The land around the village of Villeneuve-Minervois in the Aude department is perfect for growing black truffles. Right at the foot of the Black Mountains, this charming village forms a mythical truffle triangle along with Cabrespine and Trassane who all have a thriving truffle production. Visiting the Maison de la Truffe d’Occitanie is a great starting point if you want to know more about this mysterious mushroom.
A whole museum completely dedicated to the divine truffle is like heaven on earth to me. Although modestly size, La Maison de la Truffe clearly displays all there is to know about the so-called black diamond. And the set-up is quite interactive, including a free audio tour- also in foreign languages- that comes with the entrance ticket. In this informative audioguide, the former truffle grower Pinpin leads you through the museum and reveals (some) of his secrets.
The tour starts with a fun smell test to see if you can distinguish the typical black diamond scent. However, I have to say that I definitely appreciate the smell of a real truffle over a chemically simulated one… Pinpin the ‘trufficulteur’ also taught me about the truffle’s history, diverse varieties, how truffles grow, their predators, the truffle-searching methods called ‘cavage’, and much more. I could even weigh differently sized (fake) truffles to see their precious value. When I was there, the price was 1,200 euros per kilo, to give you an idea.
And at the end of the tour, you will also get some culinary tips. I loved the wall, which revealed some delicious recipes. Before going to the museum shop, I decided I wouldn’t buy a truffle here. However, when the lady working in the museum shop opened a jar of fresh truffles, I cracked at the heavenly scent of them and, of course, ended up buying a 20-gram beauty. To the delight of Chéri, because that evening we had a risotto-with-truffles created thanks to a recipe from the museum. With a little twist, as I added some dried mushrooms that I also bought in the museum shop. Pure happiness on our plates!