Burgundy and its truffle specialty

Truffles from Burgundy are not yet as well known as the wine of the same name. After all, the region can point to 2,000 years of wine culture and the world-famous wine route begins just south of Dijon. The medieval town of Beaune lies in the middle of this Unesco World Heritage site. Climats are the name given to the vineyards, which are characterized by rolling hills of light limestone-sandstone. Archways and walls of light-colored stone enliven the landscape. In the old town of Beaune stands the Hotel-Dieu, one of the most emblematic houses of the region. Considered a jewel of Gothic architecture, it is famous for its roof of colorful, shimmering shingles and for its outstanding history.

Hotel-Dieu wurde auf nahrhaftes Essen für die Kranken großer Wert gelegt. Die Nonnen bekamen täglich frisches Gemüse und Fleisch von dem zum Krankenhaus gehörenden Bauernhof. In der Küche ziert eine kleine Figur namens „Messire Bertrand“ (der gnädige Herr Bertrand) den großen Dreifachspieß über dem Kamin / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hotel-Dieu great emphasis was placed on nutritious food for the sick. The nuns received fresh vegetables and meat daily from the farm belonging to the hospital. In the kitchen, a small figure called “Messire Bertrand” (the gracious Lord Bertrand) adorns the large triple spit above the fireplace / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Hotel-Dieu was built in 1443 as a hospital for the poorest and operated as a hospital until 1971. To this day, the hospice is financed primarily from the proceeds of the vineyards that are part of the Hotel-Dieu’s endowment. High-quality barrel wines are auctioned off once a year at a nationally known and highly regarded auction. The proceeds go back into charitable projects, in keeping with the spirit of the former builder and founder Nicolas Rolin, at the time Chancellor of Burgundy. The Hotel-Dieu is now a museum of early modern nursing and is one of the places to see. For wine lovers, Beaune also offers the Maison des Climats a modern museum dedicated to the famous Cote D’Or vineyards. But just outside Beaune, on the edge of the vineyards, where the forest begins, there thrives the other coveted specialty to which this story is dedicated.

Fast sieht man den Hund vor lauter Bäumen nicht. Trüffelspürhund Elfe auf Suche / © Foto: Georg Berg
You almost can’t see the dog for the trees. Truffle sniffer dog Elfe in search / © Photo: Georg Berg

Coveted and expensive – truffles from Burgundy

La Maison aux Mille Truffes is a small family business. Thierry Bezeux has already been a mechanic on a nuclear submarine and worked in the management of a plastic packaging company before dedicating himself to a nature-related subject since 2003. With the truffle trade and his animal collaborators of the Lagotto Romangnolo breed, he is now rooted in nature and, as we learn during a visit to his House of a Thousand Truffles, literally so.

Frischer Fund: schwarzer Burgundertrüffel. Thierry Bezieux erklärt, dass er seinen Kunden aus der Gastronomie nur gleich große Trüffel verkauft / © Foto: Georg Berg
Fresh find: black burgundy truffle. Thierry Bezieux explains that his gastronomic customers only buy truffles of the same size / © Photo: Georg Berg

The root of all delicacies

At first glance, the House of a Thousand Truffles seems to be nothing more than a plain salesroom for all sorts of truffle products. Even less sensitive noses notice the intense truffle scent in the air. Behind the counter, truffle sniffing dog Jules dozes. On the counter is a small basket with precious contents. Black truffle freed from soil. It is October and this is the time for the black Burgundy truffles. Thierry Bezeux fends off our questions about types of truffles and where to find them and asks us to go behind a heavy cloth curtain where all our questions will find an answer.

Bis der schwarze Burgund-Trüffel auf dem Teller landet, dürfen vom Fundtag bis zur Verarbeitung nicht viele Tage vergehen. Trüffel hält sich unverarbeitet rund 10 Tage / © Foto: Georg Berg
Until the black Burgundy truffle lands on the plate, not many days may pass from the day of discovery to processing. Truffle keeps unprocessed for about 10 days / © Photo: Georg Berg

Like a ringmaster, Thierry pulls aside the curtain and lets us enter. Our eyes slowly get used to the darkness and we recognize a lot of tree trunks and roots. The perfect place for truffle theory.

Truffles grow in the root system of their host plants. Their occurrence depends on many factors. They love calcareous soils, feeding on the water and mineral salts of their host tree. Truffles thrive, Thierry explains, only on certain deciduous trees. Conifers but also fruit trees are not suitable host plants. Good are oaks and hazelnut. But ultimately it is the nature of the soil, aeration and sunshine duration that leads to the growth of truffles.

It takes six to eight months for truffles to reach maturity. The degree of maturity is not indicated by the size, but by the smell they give off. And this is where noses come into play.

200 Trüffelarten gibt es weltweit. Eine davon: Tuber uncinatum, der Burgundertrüffel. Thierry Bezieux hat sich ein spezielles Werkzeug anfertigen lassen. Es hat die Form einer Hundepfote. Die letzten Zentimeter gräbt der Trüffelexperte lieber selber – denn seine Hunde wissen den Trüffel als Snack zwischendurch zu schätzen / © Foto: Georg Berg
There are 200 species of truffles worldwide. One of them: Tuber uncinatum, the Burgundy truffle. Thierry Bezieux had a special tool made. It is shaped like a dog’s paw. The truffle expert prefers to dig the last few centimeters himself – because his dogs appreciate the truffle as a snack between meals / © Photo: Georg Berg

Fine noses for fine goods – on the trail of the truffle

Wild boars are responsible for the natural spread of truffles in the forests. They track down the mushroom, eat it and excrete the mushroom spores undigested. Through the example of the wild boar, man came to use the domestic pig in the search for truffles. However, in the European strongholds of the truffle, in France and Italy, the dog has prevailed as a workhorse. Not least because every truffle hunter is concerned about secrecy of his finding places. With a dog as a companion, he is simply more inconspicuous than with a domestic pig led on a leash.

Let’s talk about money – What truffles can cost

It’s October. It’s been harvest time for the burgundy truffle for a month. The lighter summer truffle has less aroma than the intense winter mushroom. More aroma also means more value. While a light summer truffle fetches around 30 euros per 100 g, the same amount of Burgundy truffle already costs three times as much. For the most expensive truffle worldwide, the white Alba truffle from Italy, even 800 euros per 100 g are put on the table. Thierry Bezeux goes three times a week and then twice a day with his dogs. But his own finds have long been insufficient. He also buys truffles from private collectors within a radius of 200 kilometers. The season for the Burgundy truffle runs from September to January. It always gets exciting just before Christmas. Then the demand for noble truffles is particularly high among customers. But the fantastic sales opportunities in the pre-Christmas period remain unused when there is a thick blanket of snow over the treasures. For the dogs it would be no problem to sniff through the snow. It is only the telltale tracks in the snow that keep the truffle team from searching.

Hund und Herrchen bei der Arbeit. Trüffelnase Elfe wartet aufmerksam auf weitere Suchbefehle, während Thierry Bezieux durch die Fragen von FrontRowSociety-Redakteurin Angela Berg abgelenkt wird. Thierry ist mittlerweile eine bekannte Größe im Burgund. Seitdem er so anschaulich Wachstum und Suche von Trüffel darstellen kann, führt er jährlich rund 3.000 Touristen durch sein „Haus der tausend Trüffel“ / © Foto: Georg Berg
Dog and master at work. Truffle nose Elfe waits intently for further search commands, while Thierry Bezieux is distracted by questions from FrontRowSociety editor Angela Berg. Thierry is now a known quantity in Burgundy. Since he has been able to so vividly illustrate the growth and search for truffles, he leads some 3,000 tourists a year on tours of his “House of a Thousand Truffles.”/ © Photo: Georg Berg

Thierry Bezeux’s truffle dog Elfe belongs to the Lagotto Romangnolo breed. This Italian dog breed is 800 years old and has special abilities. An extremely well-developed good nose meets the playful joy of searching and finding. Elfe was just 10 weeks old when she already started to search. The truffle hunters take advantage of this eagerness. The dogs are trained specifically on the scent of the ripe truffles. To do this, a ripe truffle is placed in the cavity of a tennis ball and a game of throw-and-bring begins at a high culinary level! Once the learning goal is achieved, the dogs are able to display truffles at a depth of up to 12 centimeters.

Trüffeldame Elfe ist 9 Jahre alt. In der Ausbildung werden die Hunde auf den Geruch der reifen Trüffel geschult. Die Hunde können Trüffel in einer Tiefe von 10 bis 12 Zentimeter anzeigen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Truffle lady Elfe is 9 years old. In training, the dogs are trained to smell the ripe truffles. The dogs can indicate truffles at a depth of 10 to 12 centimeters / © Photo: Georg Berg

In the small oak forest behind the House of a Thousand Truffles, sniffer dog Elfe shows off her skills. “Cherche” calls Thierry and Elfe gets going. Seemingly without a plan, she scurries back and forth between the trees. Then she barks and paws briefly, indicating a possible location. Thierry is quickly on the spot and digs with his special tool. He has to keep the excited dog somewhat in check. The dogs also like the mushroom quite a bit and wouldn’t say no to this snack if you let them. Usually the team agrees that the truffles go to Thierry and the treat to Elfe.

Finally, a truffle tasting

For visitors to La Maison aux Mille Truffes, after the truffle museum and the search demonstration in the forest, there are some culinary treats. On a tasting plate are all kinds of preparations with truffles. In conversation, Thierry Bezieux gives tips on how to use truffles in the kitchen. In order to properly set the scene for the mushroom and transfer the maximum aroma to the food, it should be combined with fat first, if possible. It is better to let the fresh truffle steep in butter grated a day before the actual use and then continue to use the truffle butter, advises the truffle expert. After more than 10 years in the truffle business, Thierry Bezeux is very successful with his concept. He guides 3,000 tourists a year through his small museum. He also explains his success by the fact that vacationers in Burgundy like to open a new culinary chapter in addition to the many wine tastings.

Vielfältiger Trüffel-Teller: Eine Verkostung kann bei einem Besuch im La Maison aux Mille Truffes in Marey-les-Fussey dazugebucht werden. Von der Trüffelsalami, über Perlhuhn mit Trüffel bis hin zu einem fantastischen Trüffeleis im Brandteig ist alles dabei / © Foto: Georg Berg
Varied truffle plate: a tasting can be added to a visit to La Maison aux Mille Truffes in Marey-les-Fussey. From truffle salami to guinea fowl with truffle to a fantastic truffle ice cream in choux pastry, everything is on offer / © Photo: Georg Berg

Beaune – an ideal starting point for many activities

On a trip to Burgundy, the city of Beaune is suitable for many activities. Vineyards can be visited in summer by bicycle along the Cote d’Or. Hotels also organize excursions for their guests. For example, the Ermitage de Corton, located just from the gates of Beaune’s old town and named after the area’s most famous vineyard, the Corton, offers tours in a nostalgic VW Bulli. The Hotel Ermitage de Corton has several suites and runs its own restaurant with an extensive wine list. If you prefer to stay in the old town, you’ll encounter all sorts of history at Hotel Le Cep. Parts of the building date back to the 14th century. The young King Louis XIV also stayed here. And the Moutarderie Edmond Fallot is just a five-minute walk away. A guided tour of the museum and production facilities and a tasting of the famous mustard from Burgundy is also a recommended culinary excursion. Read more in the report A trip to the most famous mustard in the world.

Mitten in den Weinbergen und vor den Toren von Beaune: das Hotel Ermitage de Corton. Gegenüber liegt der berühmte Corton. Auf ihm wachsen sowohl weiße als auch rote Rebsorten / © Foto: Georg Berg
In the middle of the vineyards and at the gates of Beaune: the Hotel Ermitage de Corton. Across the road is the famous Corton. Both white and red grape varieties grow on it / © Photo: Georg Berg.
Hotel Le Cep. Das Haus liegt mitten in der Altstadt von Beaune. Das Hotel hat 30 Suiten. Teile des Gebäudes stammen aus dem 14. Jahrhundert. Im 17. Jahrhundert machte hier auch der junge Louis XIV, der spätere Sonnenkönig, halt / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hotel Le Cep. The hotel is located in the middle of the old town of Beaune. The hotel has 30 suites. Parts of the building date back to the 14th century. In the 17th century, the young Louis XIV, who later became the Sun King, also stopped here / © Photo: Georg Berg

Print publication

Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

Never miss new Tellerrand-Stories again! Mithilfe eines Feed-Readers lassen sich die Information über neue Blogartikel in Echtzeit abonnieren With the help of a feed reader, all stories about the Tellerrand (edge of the plate) can be subscribed to in real time.

The research trip was partly supported on site by the French Tourism Federation

Food topics on Tellerrand-Stories

Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

Never miss new Tellerrand-Stories again! Mithilfe eines Feed-Readers lassen sich die Information über neue Blogartikel in Echtzeit abonnieren With the help of a feed reader, all stories about the Tellerrand (edge of the plate) can be subscribed to in real time.

Permalink of the original version in German: https://tellerrandstories.de/burgund-truffel-spezialitat
Optimized by Optimole