In Provence, Truffles (known as Le Diamant Noir, or Black Diamond) are an object of veneration, with their own confraternity, hunted down (“caver” in French) in fields and woods, admired and exchanged in dedicated markets and welcomed in the greatest Chefs’ kitchens. They can be savoured with a good bottle of wine among family or friends, at home or in fine restaurants. Truffles are all about taste and conviviality!
Truffle harvest season lasts from early December to March and in Uzès (where A La Carte’s rental house is located) the climax was reached this weekend.
For saturday night’s Soirée de la Truffe (Truffle Night), the local restaurants in Uzès had all prepared special 100% Truffle menus and – I kid you not – there was even a special late-night mass to honor this little black mushroom! Only in France… 😉
First stop was the evening truffle market in the central square of Uzès (Place aux Herbes). The closing darkness gave the stalls had a slightly undercover feeling that added a frisson to proceedings.
Carole and I bought 17g of Black Diamond (about 15€ at the going rate of 80€/100g), beautifully presented in a jewel-like glass pot, for use at home.
We then continued on to the special truffle diner we had booked at Le Comptoir du Sept in Uzès. The Comptoir’s chef had concocted a truffle-only 7-course menu comprising a truffle appetizer, two truffle entrées, a truffle main courses, a truffle cheese, a truffle deserts, and even a final truffle sweet! Only the wine and sparkling water were truffle-free – that night those who didn’t fancy the black stuff had only to turn and RUN! 😉
The stone dome of the dining room of Le Comptoir du Sept in Uzès
It’s hard to convey quite what eating a truffle dish is like. Whatever the food, truffle seems to enhance and embalm it with its unmistakable aroma. The truffle perfume somehow manages to be wonderfully rich and strong, yet also impossibly delicate and subtle. The aroma reminds me of a beautiful woman lying naked on a mound of slightly humid earth, her body decorated with flowers in bloom. Like I said: irresistible!
But first, let me make one thing clear: I am NOT a food blogger and I had NEVER EVER taken photos of my food in a restaurant before. Nevertheless, I decided to make an exception on the great Provence occasion of the Fête de la Truffe!
As well as my Canon, I also had a notepad & my trusty dictaphone out on the table. I must have been just a stopwatch short of the poor restaurant staff thinking I was a (not so) undercover restaurant critic!
Now, let’s dig in!
Foie gras truffé, héliantis, poire, écume yaourt, brioche bergamote
Truffled foie gras, heliantis, pear, moussed yogurt, bergamote brioche
Jaune d’oeuf fume, carotte ancienne, truffes, terre végétale, écume homard, capucine, noisette
Smoked egg white, old style carot, truffles, earth vegetable, lobster mousse, capucine? (not easy translating some of this!), hazelnut
Turbot farci, pommes de terre camargue, truffes, epinards
Turbot flatfish, camargue potatoes, truffles, spinach
Beignet de chèvre, truffes, poires, pousses de jeune salade, brioche romarin
Goat’s cheese donut, truffles, pear, young salad sprouts, rosemary brioche
Gateau fromage truffe, pommes, caramel salé, crème glacée au foin
Truffle cheesecake, apple, salted caramel, straw ice cream
No, they hadn’t accidentally left the “berry” off the “straw” on the menu ; it really did taste like cold straw!
So, not too sure about the straw ice cream… could it be because I suffer from hay fever?
Caramels truffés, truffe armagnac
Truffled caramels, armagnac chocolate truffle
All things considered, straw ice cream notwithstanding, this 100% truffle special was truly outstanding. And despite being a 7-part meal, we came away without feeling stuffed (thanks to almost zero carbs I suspect). 🙂
Then, on sunday we got to enjoy our 17g of “Black Diamond” at home, with scrambled eggs.
As luck would have it, just a couple of days before, I discovered that the post office in our little village of La Bruguière sells fresh farm eggs directly from the local farm.
I should be ashamed, but being a long-time city dweller meant that this was the very first time I’d seen fresh farm eggs presented in their natural filthy unwashed state. I guess I had never realised that eggs are only usually squeaky clean thanks to industrial processing…
How charming to find fresh farm eggs for sale at the village post-office!
In that little hexagonal jar lie 17g of finely cut black diamond…
The eggs are beaten and mixed with the laminated truffle several hours before cooking, to allow the flavours to diffuse.
Beware: truffles are very sensitive to heat and have to be cooked gently to withhold their full aroma. The solution is to scramble the egg & truffle mix in a dish placed in simmering water, thus ensuring that they never go above 100°C.
The result is a very simple yet delicious meal! 🙂
You can sample the “Diamant Noir” all year round in Uzès, thanks to La Maison de la Truffe on Place aux Herbes.
For further information about Provence truffles, ProvenceGuide.co.uk is a good ressource.
Reminder: Our Provence rental home just outside Uzès is starting to fill up with bookings, so if you’re interested in a week or two unwinding and exploring the Provence countryside, you can take a look at and book our Provence house here.
Let me know in the comment box below what you think of the infamous “Diamant Noir” (aka truffle).
– Have you tried a truffle-laced dish before? What did you think?
– Truffle has a very strong and unmistakable aroma. Do you find it an easy taste to appreciate or do you think it’s more of an acquired taste?