Long before they became one of the most sought-after (and highly priced) culinary ingredients in the world, truffles were a staple of Europe's rural populations, featuring in simple pasta recipes dating back over 2000 years.
It's this rich culinary history, and his own interest in mushrooms, formed from memories of mushroom hunting in the Black Forest with his grandfather as a young boy in Germany that inspired farmer, cinematographer, food photographer, visionary, gourmand and truffle guru, Volker Miros to start a new chapter in the fabled story of the black truffle, the fabled ‘Black Diamond of Perigord' – their cultivation and harvesting in South Africa.
It's taken over nine years of painstaking research, meticulous attention to detail and trial and error, but the great news is that locally cultivated Black Perigord truffles are now available to the local market through Woodford Truffles' joint ventures with farmers in Mpumulanga, KZN and the Eastern and Western Cape using indigenous holly oak and English oak saplings inoculated with black truffle spores. It's a slow process, with each tree taking up to 5 years to produce its first crop, but with Woodford's goal of having 50 000 hectares under ‘truffled' oak by 2020 there is huge opportunity for black truffles to take their place in signature dishes in fine-dining establishments in South Africa.
We visited the Miros family at their home farm and truffle nursery Groenfontein in the Kouebokkeveld, to learn more about the Woodford Truffle story. Watch the video below.
Paul and Volker Miros examine the progress of black truffle spores on a young oak sapling
Truffle hunting in progress on Groenfontein farm using specially trained dogs
What to expect from a Black Truffle
A subtle aroma and earthy flavour reminiscent of dark chocolate, perfumed with essences of hazelnuts, earth and garlic.
A bouquet both savoury and sweet with notes of forest mushrooms.
With their intensely flavour black Perigord truffles are best cooked briefly, low and slow, infused into sauces or shaved fresh as a finishing element.
Classic pairings include wild meats, rich cheeses and eggs.
Find out how to order Woodford Truffles here.