The Croatian ground it’s a special source of Truffles. These precious lumps were once considered food for gods and witches, but today most of them end up in gourmet delicacies for us “ordinary mortals”. Truffles are a type of edible fungus that grows underground, most commonly along the roots of trees such as oak, beech, poplar, willow and elm. Now days Truffles are considered a food with multiple forms of use in sophisticated gastronomy.
Truffles grow all over Europe, Asia, North and South America, but their most important habitats can be found in France, Italy and Istria. The most famous truffle habitat in Croatia is the valley of the Mirna river in Istria.
Truffles are picked only when they are ripe. Looking for truffles or the so-called hunt is led by an expert truffle hunter, and the truffles themselves are found by trained dogs with a perfected sense of smell. This used to be done by pigs, but today it is a rarity. Although pigs are very skilled at finding truffles, they often eat whatever they find.
As soon as the dog points to the location of a truffle by digging with its paw and receives a reward for good work, the truffle hunter will carefully dig out the fungus and make sure not to damage it. He will then reseal the excavated hole to allow new roots to develop or new truffles to grow. The truffles are then washed, sorted and evaluated, taking into account their smell, size, shape and general impression. During the evaluation, we can also cut into the truffle to see its inside colour. Sorted and cleaned truffles are finally packed for transport.
On the day Giancarlo and his dog Diana found a white truffle in the forest near Motovun that weighed an incredible 1,310 grams. The gigantic truffle named Millenium was entered in the Guinness Book of Records and inspired the entire Zigante family to continuously strive to improve the status of Istrian truffles ever since..