A Date with Samba
Samba was anxiously awaiting in the car for us to pile in. We were off on a very successful hunt for kitchen diamonds. She, Samba is a 2-year-old affectionate companion to Jean Luc, but she has a special talent for sniffing out Rabasse, truffles of Provence. Her wooly curls give it away that she is a Lagotto Ramagnolo, a breed known for such talents.
Jean Luc Monteillet is proprietore of the wine estate Domaine de Montine, a large family of vigerons, lavender producers and black truffles are all part of their inheritance and historical background of the estate. Grand-father, Roger Monteillet, was an active wine producer and activist in the AOC creation in 1973, as well as planting over 40 inoculated trees for truffle. Historically the estate owns 3 hectares of truffle fields planted from generation to generation. And Jean Luc has just planted more trees that will produce for his children and grandchildren maintaining the tradition.
Once in the field Samba was on the immediate hunt and digging within minutes. So well behaved she backed off allowing Jean Luc to dig with his truffle spade to uncover the first of many rabasses, she then jumped to his pocket that held her special treats. She earned that! With all 13 that Samba dug up except one which she did eat. Jean Luc says a tiny one keeps her excited to hunt more.
We went back to the picturesque winery….where a lunch was prepared by his wife Marie Laure. And what a lunch it was!! I went into the kitchen to see if there was a brigade of Michelin chefs. No, the was only Marie Laure serving a 5-course truffle lunch to 14 of us! French soft scrambled eggs with truffles, airy truffle flan with current sauce, the famous regional Ravioles du Dauphiné with crème and truffles, cheese and of course a chocolate dessert. Each was matched with wine of the estate, making every course a standout. Indescribable deliciousness….
Luckily the Domaine has five very smart ensuite rooms and pool within steps of the dining room. Who could move after that!!
From mid-November to mid-March and every Saturday, enthusiasts can enjoy the truffle market of Richerenches, close by and the largest in Europe. An indescribable fragrance escapes from the precious mushroom when it is mature. Try the dishes in the restaurants along the gastronomy trail, especially “brouillades”, and your taste buds will be amazed.
Spelt risotto with truffle
Julien Allano, chef of the restaurant Le Clair de la Plume presents his recipe for creamy spelt risotto with truffle.
• 160 g spelt • 1 carrot • 1 onion• 1 clove garlic• 1 bay leaf • 80 g grated Parmesan cheese• 40 g chopped truffles• 12 g truffle shavings • 10 cl meat juice• 40 cl cream • salt and pepper • truffle oil
Rinse the spelt with clean water and put it in a saucepan. Cover with 0.8 liters of broth. Peel the carrot and onion, taking care to keep them whole, not forgetting the crushed garlic clove and bay leaf. Cook for 40 min over very low heat. Salt at the end of cooking, drain and refresh. In a second saucepan, place 20 cl of cream and the Parmesan cheese and bring to a boil. Stir in the spelt and warm everything. When the risotto arrives, stir in the chopped truffle and turn off the heat. Make the emulsion by mixing the cream and the broth. Bring to a boil and add the salt, pepper and chopped truffles. Mix everything using a blender to create the emulsion. Serve hot, without forgetting a drizzle of meat juice.
To accompany the tasting of the creamy spelt risotto with truffle from chef Julien Allano, recommends wine in AOC Grignan-les-Adhémar: • Viognier cuvée from Domaine de Montine