Greetings dear readers and friends! Summer is already in full swing here and we are hot, hot, hot. No one is complaining though, as this is one of the best times of the year. The region is abuzz with festivals, concerts, arts’ programs, and every possible sort of foodie event imaginable.
I had the pleasure of attending an “Eductour” hosted by the Maison de la Truffe in Aups and what an amazing, and delicious, experience. If you’re not familiar with this charming village, it is literally a stone’s throw from the Gorges du Verdon and rich in cultural and culinary traditions.
This is also an important wine-growing and olive-oil producing region, along with attracting tourists from all around the globe. Other beautiful villages to visit in this area include Villecroze, Tourtour, Salernes, and a bit further out, Cotignac.
But let’s get back to Aups’ real claim-to-fame, les truffes. La Maison de la Truffe serves as both the main tourist office of the city and a state-of-the-art educational tour of everything you ever wanted to know about truffles. The concept was five years in the making, and if you come for a visit, you can literally feel the passion the village has for its star product. To give you an idea, our tour was conducted by the assistant mayor of Aups, who mentioned that he was onsite at 7am that morning fixing one of the videos before our arrival. Passion!
As he guided us through the Maison de la Truffe, we learned that the truffles of the Verdon are overlooked in comparison with those of Périgord largely due to the lack of publicity (marketing) of the period. At one point, truffles were so abundant in the village, that they were known as the “potatoes of the poor”. Imagine! Now the profession of “trufficulteur” is passed down from generation to generation, and there are well-established events that allow truffle enthusiasts and visitors to take full advantage of the two truffle seasons per year – winter and summer.
The start of the summer begins with the traditional Wednesday “truffle market” held on the main square of Aups, until, as we learned, the “stock runs out”.
And from Saturday, the 1st of July to Sunday, the 9th of July, Aups will host, “La semaine de la truffe d’ été” – the week of the summer truffle. Some of the activities include: discovery of the secrets of old Aups (a guided tour), a summer-truffle tasting market, discussions with the trufficulteurs, and guided visits of La Maison de la Truffe (discounted to €3). Please find the complete list of activities on the “La semaine de la truffe d’ été” page.
And let’s really get down to the important stuff… Besides these great events, where can you taste/sample truffles in Aups? Well, there are several restaurants that feature truffles on their menus, and we were fortunate to attend a tasting at La Truffe restaurant. Organized by La Maison de la Truffe, this was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had since living in Provence.
With the help of a local artist, Béatrice Chauville, La Truffe’s chef, Sebastian Gaillard, created a concept where he served his truffle “amuse-bouche” on “paintings” created by Béatrice using flavored butters (like black curry) – actual edible works of art. Wow…and what!? Luckily I have the photos to prove it.
It goes without saying that not only was our tasting beautiful, but it was totally delicious. My favorite was the dessert – a sphere of “soft” chocolate cake with a truffle-caramel sauce on the inside – trop trop bon!