Every January a special event takes place in Sarlat, Dordogne – the famous truffle festival. The aromatic fungi take centre stage in this lovely, medieval town.
If you’re a fan of these little smelly fungi, then you’ll love Dordogne in the winter. There are plenty of the “black diamonds” on offer at the markets when they’re in season from December to February.
I visited for the dedicated truffle market which is held on the 3rd weekend of January each year.
Thousands flock to this festival in honour of the truffle. There are numerous stalls with local people who bring in their horde, secretive about where they found them, as well as dealers who sell to top chefs from around the world. You can buy truffles from 5 euros though of course you can spend many hundreds more on these strange smelling lumps.
There are steaming pots of truffle infused scrambled egg, lightly perfumed, very runny – the French way. Happy punters scoff the eggs, ladled onto paper plates and washed down with a glass of wine. Even if it’s raining as it was when I was there, it doesn’t matter. Truffles seem to bring out the best in people. And, medieval time warp town Sarlat is an absolute gem to look at whatever the weather.
Here’s how to make scrambled egg with truffle
If you’re doing it the French way, you’ll only cook the egg until it has an almost soupy texture…
Ingredients per person
Generous knob of unsalted butter, melted
Table spoon of milk
Shavings of black truffle, around 15 grams or half a small truffle. (you can use truffle paste or oil if you can’t get the real thing)
Pinch of salt
Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add all the ingredients and gently whisk with a fork to blend it all together. Pour into a saucepan on a low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Serve when you get the consistency that suits you.
Eat straight away!
Trophee Jean Rougié
If you want to keep warm and to get a grip with the French love of “la gastronomie”, pop into the Trophée Jean Rougié competition which is always held when the Sarlat Truffle market is on in January. Organised by the Culinary Academy of Foie Gras and Truffles, it’s a cooking contest featuring young chefs from around France and further afield. They cook on a stage in front of the public, entry is free, and judging is carried out by some of the most famous names in the culinary world of France including many Michelin starred chefs. They parade in their big toques, those famous white, tall chef hats, they make speeches and add a lot of pizzazz to the event. The young chefs meanwhile fill the venue with amazing smells as they cook at a frantic rate – it’s a hugely popular event in this town and all adds to the truffle razzmatazz weekend…
More on truffles
Truffle hunting in Dordogne
Recipe for Coquille St Jacques with a truffle and sauterne sauce
Recipe for barley risotto with mushrooms and truffles
Truffle markets in France
More on Sarlat
The town that time forgot – Sarlat
Sarlat in photos
Reasons to visit Sarlat
Sarlat market day
Sarlat Tourist office: www.sarlat-tourisme.com