“Cavage” Demonstration & Truffle Tasting in Aups

Cavage de la truffe

For over 25 years, the Canut family has been growing black truffles on their farm in Aups. Every winter Patrick and his daughter Lisa roam their oak plantation, guided by their dogs, to harvest the precious black diamond that is the truffle. Join them for an hour, participate in truffle hunting, and treat yourself to tasting your finds! Cooking enthusiasts can also enjoy a class with chef Benoit Witz to learn how to sublimate the black truffle.

A family matter

On the road to the Gorges du Verdon, the town of Aups hosts the most prominent truffle festival in France. The limestone and sandy soils of Haut-Var are perfectly suited to the development of ‘tuber melanosporum’, the delicious black truffle. Patrick Canut, once a baker and pastry chef in Aups, chose to set up his truffle farm there 25 years ago. Of its twelve hectares of land, 1.5 is devoted to the planting of green and white oaks to cultivate truffles, with over 1000 olive trees filling out the rest of the land, to produce olive oil.

It is a family affair for the Canuts, since Patrick’s wife and three children supported him tirelessly during his shift from baker to farmer and his return to nature. Lisa Canut, local pharmacy assistant from June to November, particularly enjoys getting stuck in, and helps her father every year with the digging, the workshops, and on the market stalls, since 100% of their production is sold directly.

« The truffles we harvest today come from oak trees planted by my father 25 years ago. »

Huguette Caren et Benoit Witz de retour de Aups

The cultivation of black truffles

If the white truffle (tuber magnatum) is only found in the wild, the black truffle (tuber melanosporum) can be cultivated, as can the traditional Burgundy truffle (tuber uncinatum) and the summer truffle (tuber aestivum).

Around Aups, specialised nurseries tend to oaks or other mycorrhizal tree species, which truffle mycelium has been protected against. The planting ground must have a high ‘pH’ value, made up of clay-limestone, and have the capability for good draining. Once the plants are in the ground, it takes patience. Indeed, the first truffles rarely appear before the 10th yearly cycle. Every winter after the harvest, the land has to be worked. The fields are then enriched with truffle traps, made from a mixture of earth and crushed truffles, positioned near the roots of the trees. The truffle is usually born in spring, and develops until summer. It is therefore essential to ensure good irrigation from March to August.

Tree pruning only occurs every 3 or 4 years; and of 100 trees planted, only half will produce truffles. Furthermore, successive droughts in the Haut-Var and the high population of wild boars threaten the harvest every year. This also heightens the attraction of this product: it is rare, therefore expensive, it is enigmatic and has thrilled chefs and gourmet diners for centuries.

The cavage of the truffle

The black truffle matures throughout the winter. Truffles harvested in December offer sweet and subtle flavours, while those from February have more character. At harvest time, Patrick and Lisa Canut are busy from Monday to Wednesday, which allows Lisa to set up at the regional markets at the end of the week – or more particularly the Aups market every Thursday.

During the harvest walk around their oak groves, Patrick and Lisa are accompanied by their two dogs, Jin (11 years old) a Bernese Mountain Dog crossed Border Collie, and Némo (5 years old) a Lagotto Romagnolo. It is the dogs’ job to sniff and locate while the father and daughter dig to search for and extract the truffles. Of course, the dogs then win their reward. The dog has been found to be the most effective tool for truffle hunting, rather than the pig, flies, or other particularly tedious ancestral methods. On a plot of land, not all the trees produce truffles, therefore there are no rules, and truffle growing is entirely random. When a dog finds a serious lead, it scratches the ground, perhaps taps the ground, and waits for its master to join him. Sometimes you have to dig deep – if the truffle is buried or entangled in the roots of trees – with care and delicacy so as not to damage any roots of parts of the tree.

Want to know more? Want to get stuck into a brilliant experience between nature, man and animal? Visit the truffle farm of the Canut family!

Monday to Wednesday from December 12th

Times: 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (duration: 1 hour)

Prices: 25€

Reservation : bonjour@loucalen.com

From December 12 to February 28

The cavage of the truffle

Location : Aups

Time : Monday, Tuesday and Wed. afternoon

Cost : 25€ for one hour

Included: Cavage, tasting

Reservation : Booking is obligatory

or by phone at 00 33 4 98 14 15 29

Sunday, February 19

From the Truffle hunt to the Plate

Location : Aups, Cotignac (transportation not included)

Time : 2:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Cost : 225€/pers. (with meal for 2 to take away)

Cavage, cooking class, meal for 2 to take away

Reservation : Booking is obligatory

or by phone at 00 33 4 98 14 15 29

Emilie Rousseau takes you on the “black diamond” road from Aups to Cotignac for Monaco Info.