Spain, France and Italy are paradise for truffle and mushroom lovers in winter, when prestigious white and black truffle festivals and lively wild mushroom markets abound! Piedmont’s legendary white Alba truffles, the iconic Périgord black diamonds or the amazing array of wild mushrooms in Catalonia are best enjoyed at source at these authentic local truffle and mushroom feasts!

Typical fresh black truffle and wild mushroom pasta in Italy

Freshly picked Catalan wild mushrooms

 

Both truffles and mushrooms love the dark and damp, though there are many differences between these beloved fungi.

 

Truffles are a tuber, which is a type of subterranean fungus, so do come from the same kingdom as the venerable mushroom. Unlike mushrooms (of which most tend to resemble an umbrella in shape), truffles, whether of the black or white variety; look similar to a misshapen potato in size and form.

 

Truffles are only found growing underground beside the root systems of oak or hazelnut trees, preferring precise conditions of moist, warm days and cooler nights, which the heavily wooded areas of France’s Provence and Dordogne, Italy’s Piedmont and Spain’s Aragon, provide.

 

In season, we have many harvest festivals celebrating truffles & mushrooms here in Spain, France & Italy. Perhaps the most prestigious one is the International Alba White Truffle Festival in Piedmont, that takes place from October through to November. From there, you can travel to Tuscany where in November you can taste more exquisite white truffle at the San Miniato Truffle Fair. In France the black truffle is the star of the show. The best black truffle festivals are in January, the Sarlat Truffle Festival in Dordogne and Sorges Truffle Festival in Provence being the most important. For an unforgettable truffle experience, join us on a private gourmet truffle and mushroom hunting tour, where you will not only experience the lively truffle markets, truffle and mushroom cooking demonstrations and other gastronomic events, but also hunt for these delicacies yourself! Funnily enough, the completely unknown area of Teruel in Spain not only produces some of the best black truffles in the world, but also is thought to produce the largest quantity! Away from the international buzz, this is the perfect place to feast on truffles at excellent local restaurants without the exorbitant price tag.

White and black truffles once they have been dug out from the earth… they taste much better than they look!

 

While in Spain truffle-hunting, why not feast on wild mushrooms as well? The Catalan region at the foot of the Pyrenees provide excellent conditions for mushroom hunting and is well known among European mushroom lovers. If you would like to experience mushroom picking in Spain, join us for a Mushroom Hunting Getaway Tour, immersing yourself in its damp, woodland world. Feel underfoot the crush of fallen leaves and the scent of rain and earth as our expert mushroom hunting guide takes you to his secret spots to pick some tasty and nutrient-rich fungi.

Two truffles hunters hard at work in the forest close to Alba, Piedmont

 

Some glorious Spanish chanterelles ripe for picking…

In terms of cuisine, the humble and versatile mushroom is widely used in Spain in meaty stews, creates a rich risotto with arborio rice and white wine in Italy, or pan fried with garlic and herbs as an accompaniment in France: really, the choices are many!

 

When you taste the flavour of truffles, they are best enjoyed fresh and of course, uncooked. Come and enjoy the truffle season with us, feasting on freshly harvested aromatic thinly sliced truffle atop pasta or polenta in Italy, on an omelette in France or atop a hearty filet in Spain.

 

When it comes to ‘hunting’ both types of fungi, experience and knowledge of the best spots is crucial and our guides are true experts. Then for mushroom hunting a good set of eyes is enough, whereas finding truffles requires the expertise of a trained dog as well; to lead you to this culinary gold, and then for the ‘hunter’ to dig them out.

Either way, truffle & mushroom hunting in Spain, France & Italy is a fun and very authentic experience, so come on board and let us organise the perfect truffle and/or mushroom hunting getaway tour for you!

Italian wild mushroom risotto with pangratatto