Tales from the Truffle Trade – Chapter 4
Dinners NEXT WEEK November 13 to 17, 2018
Back in 2010 we had an exceptional year—big beautiful truffles in abundance, and at a good price. On the Sunday before our dinners, I was still near Sienna, happy with the haul I’d be taking home tomorrow. Then I got a call from Denise Sacchini, Giorgio’s daughter, saying that there was one more truffle I needed to buy. It was a huge 604 gram truffle. I’d seen giant truffles on display at truffle fairs, but never anything this size. It’s the size that a Hong Kong restaurant owner would buy for tens of thousands of dollars to get his picture in the paper. I declined, respectfully. Denise persisted. I thought I had all I needed, and it didn’t have that kind of value to Oliveto, though it was offered at a very reasonable price. I called Maggie, and she thought I was nuts to pass on it, so I agreed. When it came in from the field, it was beautiful, though not particularly fragrant.
Here it is, our 604 gram truffle. Found in the south of Tuscany, near Chiusi, with Denise Sacchini.
Our truffle had been missed by two hunters earlier that day, but was found deep underground by a young dog named Jeny. To my great honor, Jeny was the daughter of a truffle dog named Bob, and Bob was named after me 12 years earlier. He is the 6 week old puppy in my pocket in this video
of Giorgio. And while Bob was lazy and proved disappointing as a truffle dog he had good genes. His mother, Jeny Sr., also in the video, was a prize winner. It took over an hour for the truffle hunter to dig this truffle out. Giorgio and his family had become very good friends of ours, and they thought I should have this truffle.
I could have driven to Alba, sold the truffle and made enough to buy a car, but Sunday night I drove to my regular pre-flight hotel in Milan. I became well known there for all the smells. In a marble bathroom, I’d clean the truffles all night, 12 pounds, so they’d pass Agricultural inspection at SFO when I arrived on Monday. By Tuesday night, our 604 gram truffle had bloomed with an extraordinary fragrance. It took an exceptional dog to find this adolescent so deep in the ground.
We want Truffle Dinners at Oliveto to be fun. Truffle Dinners aren’t exactly fun at $25 per gram in a stuffy dining room. We find that at $7-$8 per gram you can still have some fun. Once we have our truffles in hand on Monday we’ll put out the final menu and report on their condition and price.
In case you missed them: Truffle Tales #1, Truffle Tales #2, Truffle Tales #3, & the preliminary Truffle Menu
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