All posts by Lyn

Big truffle news from Les Pastras!

David Pakman 15

This may just be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us!

(No, being in Truffle News is the most exciting thing!)


David Pakman 41Les Pastras truffle hunts are in the news, featured in the travel section of the Chicago Tribune! The story is online now, in print on May 29. CLICK HERE to read all about it!
David Pakman 22Here’s just a taste:

“A trip to Provence isn’t complete without at least one decadent meal featuring truffles. The precious fungus, also known as black gold, can sell for hundreds of dollars a pound, and its distinctive earthy flavor can be found on seasonal menus and in everything from salt to cheese.

David Pakman 18But where do truffles come from exactly?

David Pakman 19Former Chicagoans Johann and Lisa Pepin are willing to show you if you visit their farm in the Luberon region of southern France. There, the Franco-American couple offer English-speaking visitors a unique truffle-hunting experience.”

David Pakman 21
Kind regards, 
Lisa and Johann Pepin,
David Pakman 40
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David Pakman 33
David Pakman 35

Secrets of the Alba Truffle Hunters.

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I sat next to a truffle hunter in the Barolo Region of Alba.

As the Michelin-starred food arrived and the wine flowed, he told me a lot about the local truffle hunters.

Although he wouldn’t admit to being one of them, he kept slipping up and saying ‘us’ instead of ‘them,’ and then he would correct himself – but not very emphatically, and he had a smile on his face, as though to let me know that he’d made a mistake on purpose!


Alba’s truffles are the white varieties. They sell for 3-4 euros a gram locally, and for 10 euros per gram elsewhere.

No tourist will ever buy from a local truffle hunter. They’ll find it almost impossible to find one. And the truffle hunters mainly sell their buried treasure to restaurants.

Traditional truffle dogs are white. Then my new chum told me that most of them are trained in the University of Truffle Dogs.dog5

He waited for my reply with a twinkle in his eye.

‘Oh yeah, right,’ I said, ‘And I expect they wear little black cloaks and mortar boards and everyone applauds them when they go up to collect their diplomas!’

Of course he’d pre-empted my reaction and handed his phone to me.

Sure enough, there it was! The University of Truffle Hunting Dogs was founded in 1880 in a house in the hilltop village of Roddi.

Giovanni Monchiero, aged 42 runs it now. It was founded by his great-grandfather.

Well, you learn something new every day!dog

There are no truffles growing on private land. They grow in public woodland.

The truffle hunters go out at night. They know where they’re going, even in pitch darkness.

Some plants encourage truffles to grow. Wet and humid conditions are perfect.

A rising moon means a rising truffle.

The knowledge dates back to Roman times and is passed down from father to son.

I asked what happened when someone new tried to muscle in on the local hunting. Was there any violence?

There was no way that I could imagine a fiery Italian who could earn enough money in a few weeks to keep his family for the rest of the year politely saying, ‘Hello, I haven’t seen you before. Don’t look here. It’s better over there.’dog2

Again, it was what my friend didn’t say that explained a lot. He told me that the truffle hunters all carry a long baton which is used to push the dogs’ noses away when they find a truffle.

Hmm, yeah, and the rest, I replied. He just smiled.

Actually, the truffle hunters are willing to talk about what they do. They’re just cagey about where they do it!

One of them took a BBC journalist hunting with him at night. Then she asked to see his 50-year-old notebook, listing his truffle sites, and he said that his even wife would never ask to see it – and he angrily rushed away, leaving the journalist alone in the dark wood.

Nobody knows how she found her way out of it.dog3

At the Asti wholesale market, which runs from 5-6am, truffles are discreetly sold. A journalist from the Washington Post went there and he looked around, totally confused. There wasn’t a truffle to be seen anywhere. It was just full of people in groups chatting.

Then one of them looked up and announced, ‘It’s OK, he’s a colleague of mine,’ and truffles appeared out of bags, boxes and pockets!

Personally, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m not a truffle aficionado, although I’ve tried different varieties several times. I’d rather have a big, meaty cep.



Università dei Cani da Tartufo ® Via Carlo Alberto 13 – 12060 – Roddi (Cn) Tel. /fax 0173 615156 –


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Oh Come All Ye Tasteful


Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is a newly-published Foodies’ Guide to a Millionaire’s Christmas Feast, by Ian Flitcroft.

It’s more of a Lookbook than a Cookbook and you probably won’t actually cook any of the recipes (unless you can pass the book on to your chef and tell him/her to do it) but it’s an amusing read.

You probably won’t fancy Chocolate Chrismas Redoux, Brussels sprouts covered in chocolate, which is apparently an invention of Kent farmers John and Mark Harris. But in case you do want to try it, I’ll include the recipe.

Here is a taster of what you can expect from this amazing and original book;



Toast (this is just a vehicle for the butter and other flavours, so for once good old white sliced bread is perfect)


Butter (ideally salty Welsh butter)

Absolutely NO MILK



Anchovy relish (eg, Patum Peperium) or chopped tinned anchovies

Salmon roe

Smoked salmon

White truffle (or white truffle oil if your truffle supplier let you down)

Foi gras (with flakes of salt)

Parma ham

Lemon curd

Ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) –world’s hottest chilli (or the spiciest thing you can get your hands on)

Butter the toast first and then cut 9 pointed triangles and trim an inch off the pointed end. With a small cookie cutter, cut a small round piece of toast for the central piece. Arrange the triangles around the centre piece in the manner of a roulette wheel.

Spread or place each toppng (ie, marmalade, Marmite, anchovy relish or chopped anchovies, salmon roe, smoked salmon, white truffle, foi gras, Parma ham, lemon curd) on the triangular pieces, keeping away from the edges. Keep the ghost pepper (or your chosen spicy shocker) for the central circular piece. Then quickly cover the topping with a spoonful of scrambled eggs. Sit back and enjoy the expressions on your nearest and dearest’s faces as they play scrambled egg roulette!



For the Main Event;

A fine young (big) hen turkey

About 4lb of black Perigord truffles (2kg, which should cost about £1500, whould suffice with a little left over for scrambled eggs on Boxing Day)

2lb fatty bacon

Mignionette pepper (a mixture of cracked white pepper that sometimes also includes coriander)

Grated nutmeg (Francatelli is vague about the quantities here, but elsewhere in his famous cookbook he uses the phrase ‘enough nutmeg to cover a sixpence’ so let’s go with that)

A couple of chopped bay leaves

A sprig of thyme

1 clove of garlic

½ lb fresh duck or goose

Foi gras


For the Perigueux Sauce

A bay leaf

A sprig of thyme

A small chunk of cooked ham

6-8 black truffles

2 glasses of white wine

A similar volume of veal or chicken stock

Wash your 4lb of truffles, peel and chop into walnut-sized pieces but keep the leftover bits. Place the large truffle pieces into a large casserole dish. Pound the truffle peelings with the chopped bacon using a pestle and mortar. Add this to the casserole idh along with salt, pepper, a clove of garlic, a chopped bay leaf and thyme. Pound up the foi gras separately and add to the mixture. Put on a very low heat for an hour to melt the fat and start blending the flavours together. Mr Francatelli doesn’t add any brandy to this recipe but a good dash of cognac or Armagnac added a the end of this initial cooking wouldn’t, in my opinion, go amiss. When done set aside and allow to cool.

In preparing the bird for stuffing Mr Francatelli advises breaking and removing the breast bone. I think this is to make more space for the world’s best stuffing, though it might also help the truffle flavour suffuse into the breast meat. He also assumes you are skilled at doing this. If you are not, it might be best to ask your local butcher’s assistance. At the end of the day, if that’s how Queen Victoria liked her Turkey a la Perigord, that’s good enough for me.

Open up the neck skin as far as [possible over the breast, then fill up with stuffing. To keep all the precious truffle stuffing in, close up the neck with twine and a trussing needle – there is nothing quite like using a trussing needle to make you feel like you have stepped back in time to the kitchen of one of England’s stately homes. The next most important ingredient is time for the truffle aroma to suffuse through the bird. This should be at least 24 hours. A roasting bag, a modern invention not available in Mr Francatelli’s time, is perfect for this process as it traps and intensifies the volatile elements of truffles. As an aside this process works wonderfully with uncooked eggs and steak.

For roasting, Mr Francatelli advises covering the bird with bacon and wrapping in parchment paper prior to placing on a spit over an open fire. If you are not blessed with such a kitchen, cooking the turkey in a roasting bag and conveltional oven will suffice. Your reward for cooking this fine dish will be being the only person present when you cut into the roasting bag, and are enveloped with the finest aroma known to mankind.

For the Perigueux sauce, chop the truffles finely and heat in a pan with the 2 glasses of white wine, ham, stock, a bay leaf and thyme until it boils. Bring down to a simmer and remove the ham, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce down and use as the base for making the gravy.

Serve with the best Bordeaux you can afford, and as much pomp and ceremony as you can muster.




1 medium sized white truffle.

For the first part of this dish you need only follow the instruction of Mrs Beeton.

Choose large white potatoes, as free from spots as possible; boil them in their skins in salt water until perfectly tender; drain and dry them thoroughly by the side of the fire, and peel them. Put a hot dish before the fire, rub the potatoes through a coarse sieve on to this dish; do not touch them afterwards, or the flakes will fall, and serve as hot as possible.

To turn this snow into a dish fit for an emperor you need to alternate layers of hot potato snow with grated fresh white truffle. This king of fungi is easily affected by heat and so not well suited to cooking. Shaving or grating onto hot food is considered the ideal way of serving white truffles. This provides enough heat to release all the volatile flavours without destroying them.

As well as fine champagne, rappers are also developing a taste for white truffles. New York chef Daniel Boulud has been reported as saying that P-Diddy (aka Puff Daddy/Sean Combs) requests a little more white truffle on his plate with the immortal words, ‘shave this b*tch’. Just in case any young children or mother-in-laws are listening during the preparation of this dish, I suggest you don’t follow his example.



Although coated in chocolate these morels hark back to the days of dinners in stately mansions up and down the country, when a savoury course would routinely follow dessert.

So even if you don’t live in a country mansion, there is no reason your petits fours shouldn’t be stately.

Brussels sprouts

Balls of stuffing (of the same size a the peeled sprouts)

Balls of venison sausage meat (again of the same size)

100g each of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate

1tsp of finely grated orange zest

Small pinch of ground pepper and flaked sea salt

1tsp of truffle oil

(and 1tsp of finely chopped black truffles if possible)

2 tsp of light cooking oil

The Brussels sprouts need to have the outer layers peeled off and the stalks well trimmed. They are excellent raw, but if you prefer them slightly softer, drop them into boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, then cool down in cold water and dry. The sulphurous flavour of sprouts comes out more the longer they are cooked, so they still need to be very crunchy.

The sausage meat balls are simply made by cutting open the sausages and making balls by rolling the meat between your palms (cover your hands with flour first). Fry or bake the balls and then let cool. Similarly roll the stuffing into balls, bake and cool.

Melt the chocolate, one type at a time, in a bowl over barely simmering water. A teaspoon of oil helps to prevent the chocolate going granular and lumpy (‘seizing’) For the milk and white chocolate use light cooking oil, for the dark use the truffle oil. Be particularly careful not to overheat the white chocolate, it seizes at a much lower temperature than normal chocolate.

As soon as it starts to melt add the flavourings. Orange zest for the white chocolate, pepper and salt for the milk chocolate and truffle oil/truffles for the dark chocolate. Add less than you think you need and taste before adding more. Once fully molten use wooden cocktail sticks to dip the various centres into the chocolate, then place on greaseproof paper to cool and pull out the cocktail stick.

I’d suggest using the white chocolate and orange for the Brussels sprouts, the pepper/salt milk chocolate for the stuffing and the truffle dark chocolate for the venison sausages. But of course feel free to MIX and MATCH.


A bit about the author…

It was whilst studying medicine at Oxford University that Ian Flitcroft developed a fascination with all things culinary.

Ian has travelled around the world twice and sampled many of the world’s strangest foods en-route. Hi is a long term member of the Slow Foods Movement in Ireland, a collector of old culinary-related books and an avid cook and wine collector. Iain now works as a consultant eye surgeon in Dublin, where he has lived for over 10 years.


Oh Come All Ye Tasteful is published by Legend Press & costs £9.99.

Legend Times

175-185 Gray’s Inn Road




Secret Sussex Truffle Hunting!

truffle & Massimo 103 (Medium)

Truffles in Sussex? Really? I wondered as I drove to a secret destination in West Sussex.

I was meeting Melissa Waddingham who is a registered Truffle Hunter and Wild Mushroom picker.

Pulling into a car park area, I couldn’t see any sign of Melissa, so I phoned her. But it was a bad reception area, so we had to talk a couple of words at a time before we were cut off again.

Eventually I realised that I was in the wrong car park, so I drove back down the road for a few yards. And there she was, with her trained truffle dogs, Ella and Zebidee.

We set off into the woods. And Zebidee started digging at once!

Melissa pulled her off and, getting down on her knees, she sniffed the ground like a dog. Then she began digging too, and emerged out of her hole, all excited, gently brandishing a tiny white truffle. She said it was a rare type of truffle, and she placed it gently in her basket, rewarding Zebidee with a titbit.

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Recently, Melissa found an unknown species of truffle that hadn’t been seen for 200 years!

As we walked along, Melissa talked about truffle hunting and pointed out signs in the landscape.

Sussex is chalky in places, which gives the soil a high PH, which is good for truffles.

We were in a wood with a lot of beech trees. If you look up at the canopy, the root area will be the same, and there’s potential to find truffles everywhere, 360 degrees under a tree in that area.

Suddenly Zebidee started digging again, her front paws working rapidly, pausing now and then to stick her nose in the ground with her tail wagging. She was obviously having a great time.

Melissa gently nudged her aside and bent down to sniff in the hole. Then she called me over to have a sniff. I could distinctly smell a sweet, musty smell. And, success! Melissa dug out a large black truffle!

It was a bit too old to eat, and an animal had nibbled the edges. But it was an exciting find, and there would be enough traces of the truffle in the ground to produce more truffles.

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Melissa is an expert at sustainability, and she carefully covered over the hole.

It was an exciting, interesting morning, but I had to leave for another appointment.

‘Do you know the way back?’ she asked me.

Of course I did. England’s supposed to be a built-up country and I was in the woods, not far away from a main road!

Melissa pointed South and told me to go that way, so off I set.

No problem. I was heading roughly towards the sun.

But then I came to a fork in the woods. Oh dear, which way should I go?

I went left for about 10 minutes, then as the woodland got thicker, I retraced my steps and followed a more obvious track. I was bound to meet someone walking their dog or riding a horse soon! I could ask them the way.

No, I didn’t meet one person. The woods were deserted!

truffle & Massimo 106 (Medium)

Finally, I emerged at the first car park, so all I had to do was turn left and walk down the road.

But there was no sign of the other car park. What on earth was going on?

Again I retraced my steps – several times. Where was it? It should be there down the road from the other car park!

Again, I didn’t see anyone outside their house, and the few cars that passed me had no intention of stopping.

Finally, I walked up to a house and knocked on the door. The man who opened the door looked at me very strangely when I told him I’d lost my car! But then he said he’d take me there in his car, and said it was up the road.

No it isn’t, it’s down the road! I replied.

He told me we’d go up the road, then he could turn round if necessary.

We drove past the first car park (as I thought!) and there was car park no 2!

I found out that there were two identical car parks, so I’d turned left instead of right!

And there was my little car, waiting for me. Oh, the relief!

As you know, Dear Regular Readers, I am not a fan of hiking, etc.

See my Nordic Torture Walking article on our sister magazine B-C-ing-U!

As Hubby John says, I’d drive to the bathroom if I could!

And where did I go truffle hunting? Aah, that’s a secret and I’ve promised not to tell!


Melissa Waddingham is a truffle hunter and wild mushroom picker. In the spring and autumn months she runs mushroom forays, truffle hunts, talks and courses and throughout the year she provides truffle hound training days for your truffle hound to be.

She also manages woodlands for the sustainable production of truffle. For more information regarding these services, contact her.

Dates of up and coming events will be posted and group numbers are small with a maximum of ten people so Melissa does advise that you book well in advance. One to one and smaller group forays/courses are also available.

Truffle hunting is an uncommon practice here in England and the rare opportunity to have a go with a trained dog and its owner is an experience not to be missed for a great day out!





Truffle Burgers

IMG_0003Prep time 10 minutes  Cooking time 20 minutes.

These Burgers are topped with Truffle Oil and a Parmesan Crisp, and are served on a piece of Focaccia, or in a Burger Bun if preferred. It makes 4 Burgers.

480g/1lb fresh sirloin steak mince, or other good-quality mince.

175g/6ozs freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

1/2tsp salt & 1/2tsp pepper.

4 15cm/6in squares foccacia, or 4 Burger buns.

1 tsp white Truffle Oil.

Preheat grill to high.

Combine the beef, 55g/2ozs cheese and seasoning in a bowl.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal-sized portions and shape each portion into a patty.

Heat a samll frying-pan. Pile a quarter of the remaining cheese into two small circles, spaced well-apart. Heat until melted.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the circles onto a plate to cool and harden.

Repeat with the remaining cheese, so you have 4 circles.

Place the burgers under the pre-heatd grill and cook for about 4 minutes per side, turning halfway. they should be browned on the outside.

Place each Burger on a piece of Foccacia, or on the base of a bun. Drizzle each one with about 1/4stp of the oil.

top with a Parmesan crisp and serve immediately.

 Previously published n The American Diner; The Ultimate Burger Cookbook.

Truffle Hunting Tours Around the World in 2015

Meet the truffle hunters

Whether they are black or white, big or small, French or Italian, the season of one of the most gourmet products in the world it’s coming! It’s time to hunt truffles!

Did you know there is a special University in Italy for training truffle hunting dogs?

Known as white and black gold, truffles are a very special delicatessen because they are usually found only in some regions of Italy and France. They grow naturally underground, so it is necessary to train a dog to hunt them! Therefore, truffle dogs are the real protagonists of the truffle hunting, as they have the best sense of smell and can detect a truffle even from 100 meters away. In fact, there is a truffle dog University in Italy were they are trained to detect truffles since they are small puppies, being able to find thousands of euros in truffles just walking around the hills, it’s like a game for them! In the past, pigs were used as well but it was very hard to make them stop eating this edible treasure!


Types of truffles.

There are different types of truffles and they mature at different times of the year, depending on the region. Therefore, different truffles are available throughout the year. They are usually classified by their colour, season and region; white truffles are considered more special than black truffles because they grow only at limited latitudes and regions, they have a broader unique bouquet and they don’t need to be cooked to show their intense aromas, so they are traditionally shaved directly on simple risotto, pasta, and egg dishes, allowing the truffle to be the protagonist of the dish. In the other hand, black truffles are grown in more regions and they have a delicious earthy, subtle bouquet, you can enjoy them with meat, risotto and pasta.

Would you like to experience the unforgettable thrill of truffle hunting?

Definitely Italy and France are our favourite countries for enjoying the best truffle hunting experiences. So we prepared for our gourmet food lovers a list of the best truffle hunting tours around the world!



4-Day White Truffle Extravaganza in Piedmont

Indulge in a journey into gourmets’ paradise searching for the most valuable truffle in the world! You will be part of the white truffle of Alba celebration experiencing truffle hunting, wine tasting and gourmet dining in beautiful Langhe hills of Piedmont, added to the ‘World Heritage Sites’ List in June 2014. This tour is perfect for wine and truffle lovers that prefer the best of the best!

4-Day Wine and Truffle Holiday in Tuscany

Go on a white truffle hunt in San Miniato and participate in a cooking class! You will enjoy the beautiful Tuscany in a place that offers you an amazing view with a great food, tranquillity, comfort and not last great wines and truffles!

Truffle Hunting and Cheese Tasting Tour in Siena

Spend a colourful day in the rolling hills of the splendid Val d’Orcia, UNESCO World Heritage. Enjoy a truffle hunting adventure with this full-day truffle and cheese tour. Delight in a great walk in the woods with licensed truffle hunters, dogs and spectacular views in the background made of charming hilltop towns and cypresses.

Truffle Hunting, Cooking and Wine Tour in Tuscany

Enjoy a truffle and cooking experience in Tuscany during the fall season with this full-day truffle, cooking and wine tour. You will hunt for truffles with a licensed hunter and his precious dog immersed in the woods and you will enjoy a delicious truffle lunch paired with amazing Chianti and extra virgin olive oil!

Truffle Hunting Gourmet Weekend in Marche

Enjoy a weekend break in Marche, Italy, where you’ll become a truffle hunting expert. Experienced chef, Monica will help you prepare a meal showcasing the truffles of the season. You will learn tips on how best to store, prepare and use fresh truffles. Also, you will enjoy a tutored wine tasting of a selection of the red and white local wines, led by a professional sommelier. If you are a truffle and wine lover, this is the tour for you!

Truffle Hunting Day Trip in Marche

Experience an authentic truffle hunting experience with the Truffle Hunters. You’ll take part in an exciting truffle hunt in the foothills of the Sibillini Mountains. Afterwards you will enjoy a fun cooking session at a truffle cookery school followed by a long, lazy truffle-based lunch.

Best Truffle Hunting Tours 2015

Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

Escape to the serenity of Tuscany for pure tranquillity, relaxation and rejuvenation. This break promises a boost to your wellbeing and a whole lot of fun too! You will stay amongst the vines and enjoy the unique experience of truffle hunting. Your truffle expert will take you to a secret location where you will partake in the hunt for the elusive Tuscan truffle. A delicious, truffle-themed lunch will be served afterwards at a traditional osteria and you will also enjoy a wine tasting in the hotel’s extensive cellar.

1 Week Autumn Gold: Truffle and Wine Tour in Tuscany.

You will stay in the magnificent 11th century Villa Maddalena situated in the centre of Montisi, a medieval hilltop village near Montalcino and the package includes your own private chef and sommelier for the duration of your stay. Chef Selina and sommelier Matt work together to create an unforgettable dining experience using the very best local ingredients and wines – including your truffle if you are lucky enough to find one!

8 Days Truffles, Chocolates and Sagrantino Grapes in Umbria.

Nature has bestowed upon us several luxuries and Umbria has some of our favorites; chocolates, Sagrantino wines and the ultimate, black and white truffles. During this amazing tour, you will indulge in all of these pleasures and more! You will taste Sagrantino wines under an awe-inspiring architectural dome and tour the town where this obscure grape grows. Not yet convinced? You will visit Rome, Todi, Assisi and Perugia and make our own creations at Perugina, Italy’s oldest confectionary! If you like to indulge, this tour will prove to be the ultimate!


Truffle Hunting Tour in Provence

This tour allows wine lovers and foodies to experience Provence away from the beaten track with one of France’s most historical countryside traditions. Whether summer or winter you can go on a truffle hunt, sample delicious truffles, world-class Champagne and rich olive and truffle oil. This is a unique and unmissable experience for any Winerists looking to explore and discover Provence.

4 Day Cahors Truffle

Winter truffles are one of the best kept treasures in the Lot valley. The soil and climate of the region so come and let your guide unveil the secrets around this noble mushroom. Your private guide will arrange and accompany you to a range of truffle oriented activities such as a truffle market, a demonstration of truffle hunting, a truffle lunch, a winery and the only exclusive truffle merchant of France.



Diana Isac


CEO & Co-Founder


Tel: +44 207 096 1006 

Mob: +44 7515 727984

Twitter: @thewinerist



Best Travel Website of 2014


truf-prov1-1Go behind the scenes of the world’s most secretive business. Take a tour of a Provençal truffle plantation, learn how truffles are cultivated and truffle dogs are trained, and go on a hunt for France’s elusive “black gold” with professional hunters who know all the tricks of the trade.

truf-prov1-2You’ll be regaled with stories of successes and sabotage, and learn to tell the difference between the different types of French truffles and the “fakes” from China. Tours are followed up with a sampling of fresh truffle hors d’oeuvres, Champagne and a tasting of our Les Pastras olive and truffle oil. A real treat!

Want to see what our guests say about our truffle-hunting tour? Click here.

Truffle Hunting Tour: Truffle hunt, truffle hors d’oeuvres, Champagne, olive and truffle oil tasting: 70€ per person (winter), 60€ per person (summer). Minimum of 2 people.

truf-prov1-3Weekend tours at flexible hours, weekday tours at 6pm (summer) or 4pm (winter). Please book at least one week in advance.

Summer season: May 1 – September 30*
Winter season: November 15 – March 15*

* Weather permitting

Please contact us for more information or to schedule your tour.

truf-prov1-4Johann & Lisa Pepin,, +33 6 26 05 30 49

Follow us on Twitter @LesPastras and on Facebook

50% of the profits from Les Pastras products go to the One Family orphanage in Haiti

With kind regards,

Johann & Lisa Pepin

White Truffle Weekends at Villa Lena, Tuscany – Autumn 2015

Villa Lena, Image Credit Ellie TsatsouThis autumn, Villa Lena in Tuscany will be hosting special weekends in celebration of the white truffle, trifola d’Alba Madonna, which grows amid the roots of oak, ash, and white poplar trees in their own forests.

Guests will learn to forage with their specialized agriculture team and Lagotto Romagnola dogs, to prepare and cook the truffles with the Chef-in-residence Guillaume Rouxel, from Le Dauphin in Paris, and enjoy multiple courses and variations of the Tuscan delicacy at degustation meals.

4 F1020025_830Set in 500 hectares of beautiful woodland, rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards; Villa Lena is much more than just a traditional Tuscan retreat. Founded as an artist residency and a hotel by contemporary art consultant Lena Evstafieva, her musician husband Jérôme Hadey and their friend Lionel Bensemoun, a successful entrepreneur and founder of the hip Parisian nightclub Le Baron, the three have collaborated on a retreat to bring together their experiences in entertainment, music, art, film and other creative fields in one place. As always at Villa Lena, guests at the Truffle Weekend will be included in the community of resident artists and musicians who will host special cocktails, a concert, and a creative workshop.


Date: first date – 9th -11th of October

Price: 600 euros per person inclusive of VAT

The package is separated into two fees. The Truffle Package includes the weekend’s gourmet menu and all the activities (which are optional, in case guests would like to opt out of one or few).

_J1A7524Accommodation fees are separate since there are different sized apartments on offer. Guests are invited to stay in Fattoria – old stables converted into airy apartments with tall ceilings and views over the rolling hills or the adjacent 19th century Villa.

Accommodation Fees:

One bedroom suite for two people – 300 euros for 2 nights

Two bedroom suite for three people – 380 euros for 2 nights

Two Bedroom Suite for four people – 520 euros for 2 nights

Truffle Recipes


Serves 4
140g celery
70g shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
70g shaved black truffle
4 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
White pepper

Clean and thinly slice the celery sticks. Put in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave to rest for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the water.
Mix the celery with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle, oil, salt and white pepper, and serve.



Serves 4
4 bread slices
3 eggs
70g unsalted butter
2 spoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 spoon of grated black truffle

Toast the bread slices. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Break the eggs and add them to the melted butter. Leave them to cook and then add Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle and salt.
Remove from heat (the eggs should still be moist) and arrange on the toasted bread slices.



Serves 4
8 Pork loin slices (about 1cm thick)
8 cooked ham slices
2 spoons, Parmigiano Reggiano
1 spoon, grated black truffle
100g shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
50g shaved black truffle
4 spoons, extra virgin olive oil
1 glass, fresh cream
50g unsalted butter
1 glass, white wine

Lay the pork loin slices on a board and pound them slightly. Arrange a cooked ham slice, truffle shavings and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on each loin slice.
For each slice, fold in the edges on either side and roll them up, finish with a toothpick to hold them together.
Heat butter and oil in a pan. Add the rolls and sauté, turning them and simmering with white wine until reduced. Once browned off add fresh cream, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and grated truffle and cook again. Serve with truffle shavings.



Serves 4
Fresh Pasta (Tagliolini)
400g flour
4 eggs
1 spoon of extra virgin olive oil
8 spoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 spoons of grated black truffle
150g unsalted butter
Cooking water

For the fresh pasta, mix all the ingredients, cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge. After 1 hour minimum unwrap the dough and roll out a thin piece of pasta dough, spread flour over the dough, roll the dough lengthways on a floured surface. Then, slice the rolled dough evenly into 1cm pieces, so as to make small spirals, the dough should then fall out into evenly cut strips of taglionini pasta.
Bring to the boil a large pot full of water and add some salt and a splash of oil. Add the tagliolini and cook for about 3 minutes.
Melt butter with cooking water from the pasta in a large pan and then add Parmigiano Reggiano and black truffle.
Drain the tagliolini in a colander and then pour into the pan, mixing them with the sauce.



Serves 4
400g flour
4 eggs
1 spoon of extra virgin olive oil
500g cow’s milk ricotta
200g grated Parmigiano Reggiano, aged 30 months
1 radicchio
1 egg
2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
8 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 radicchio
50g dried porcini mushrooms
200g béchamel (*)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
(*) Béchamel
50g unsalted butter
50g flour
500ml whole fresh milk
Grated nutmeg

For the fresh pasta, mix all the ingredients, cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for one hour minimum.
For the filling, wash and cut radicchio. Heat some oil in a pan, add the radicchio and let it soften. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then chop. In a mixing bowl combine ricotta, the egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and radicchio.
For the sauce, rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms in cold water (squeezing them and changing water a few times).
Unwrap the dough and roll a thin strip on a floured surface.
Using a spoon, piping bag or fingers, place filling equal distance apart along one side.
Fold over the sheet of pasta, being sure not to let air in with the filling. Cut out the tortelli using pastry cutter or shape cutter.
Bring to the boil a large pot full of water and add some salt.
In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Wash and chop the radicchio. Heat the oil in a pan, add the radicchio and let it sauté. Squeeze the porcini mushrooms (keeping their water apart), cut them and add them to the sauce. Add some salt and cook for 10 minutes over gentle heat.
Prepare the béchamel. Melt the butter over a gentle heat, add the sifted flour and stir it quickly with a whisk to avoid lumps. Add milk and continue to blend until it boils. Add grated nutmeg and salt if necessary.
Add béchamel to the sauce, with some water from the porcini mushrooms and some salt, if required.
Cook the tortelli for 3 minutes and drain with a perforated spoon.
Dress the tortelli with the sauce and finish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top.


Recipes  by Micaela Pellegrini and photography by John Holdship


Truffle day at San Miniato, Tuscany

IMG_4436Riccardo and his truffle-hunting hound Turbo take us to find the truffles buried in the soil around the roots of trees near San Miniato (Tuscany). He explains the life cycle of truffles and shows us how he trains his dogs. We take our truffles back to his house to learn how to clean them and prepare traditional dishes with them, which we eat for lunch — truffles in every course! There are truffles to be found in every month of the year: bianco (white precious) and uncinato (black autumn) from September to December, marzuolo (whitish bianchetto) from January to March and the scorzone (black summer) from April to November. Choose from lots of other seasonal activities to create a personalised tour of whatever length you like including accommodation and transport.

Image 10Available from: Lucca, Florence, Pisa

Fee for two people for truffle hunt day: 570 EUR, includes local transport, activities described, truffle lunch with wine, friendly Sapori e Saperi guide to explain and translate; excludes extra snacks and drinks, personal purchases.


Contact: Erica at
Erica (Heather) Jarman, Director
Sapori & Saperi Adventures Ltd
flavours & knowledge of Italian artisans

IMG_4771Photo: Heather Jarmanhills