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Unassuming Who knew that from late March, Gaillard would have a gold mine behind its doors?


Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.

On the scent of black truffles

Stanley Moss goes in search of the elusive black truffle in an unsuspecting French village
photographed by Paula Sweet

 

 





 

Motor through the tranquil village of Caussade, France and you suspect little of the magic that goes on behind closed doors there. Citizens saunter disinterestedly by a certain building on the rue du Général de Gaulle. In late March, a succession of white sacks arrive from the depths of local forests, filled to overflowing with truffles, the aromatic fungus treasured in so many kitchens. Once the province of gluttonous pigs, as truffle season ends, armies of trained dogs fan out one last time in search of black gold. And what a haul it can be.

At the airy workspaces of Maison Gaillard, a truffle vendor since 1906, the first step after the white bags arrive is grading by size and shape. A delicate process of brushing occurs, and the truffles inadvertently scratched by canine claws get sorted out, trimmed down, or crumbled for use in house-made infused products. Chefs behind the scenes don’t mind shaving off perfectly oval slices, so nubby and irregular shapes go immediately to them; perfectly round ideal weights get quickly shipped off by jet to Japan, where top prices are the byword.

The elegant dilemma with truffles is that they can be eaten so many different ways: in omelettes, shaved over pasta and cheese, in salads, with roasted chicken, infused in oils, salt or honey. Let the heart dictate how to make a choice. Jean-Luc Clamens, Gaillard’s maître, simply serves thin slices dusted with rock salt on a small plate at his work table, a minimalist solution which permits the perfume to eloquently come forward. But temptation proved irresistible and your correspondents later commandeered a fresh loaf of local baguette, some soft cheese and a beer, sprinkled on shaved truffle sliced with a pocket knife and demolished it all picnic-style on the shores of a nearby river. •

 

Maison Gaillard
82300 Caussade
www.truffesgaillard.fr
Telephone 33 5 63-93-09-61




 

 

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