Discovering Anthonij Rupert’s homegrown Altima Black Truffles

19 Jun

An exclusive locally grown 100g Altima truffle, as shown to us at the Truffle Lunch at Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to experience the brand new black truffles cultivated on the cool climate Altima Estate in the Elandskloof valley outside Villiersdorp – a farm that forms part of Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek. Anthonij Rupert Wyne is the first producer of these rare Périgord truffles in South Africa.  Oak trees were planted on Altima Estate in 2010, their roots inoculated with truffle spores. It would be only 7 years later that the team at Anthonij Rupert would find that their patience has paid off, when they harvested their first truffle.

Truffle hunter (also known as a Trufelau) Hanene van Dyk, who learnt her craft in Piedmont, Italy, works closely with her specially-trained Lagotto Romagnolo dogs to hunt for the truffles. Truffles are seasonal and will only be available during May – July this year.

The Périgord truffle, or French black truffle is known as the world’s most expensive edible mushroom. Grown originally in France, Italy and Spain, it is now also being cultivated in other areas like Australia, New Zealand and Wales. It is revered world wide by culinary enthusiasts as a rare winter delicacy. They have a distinctively aromatic smell and can reach a size of up to 10 cm in diameter (although size doesn’t govern quality, in this case). Truffles are usually imported to South Africa at around R60/g, but the value of these local truffles is roughly estimated at around R40/g. To give you an idea, this truffle pictured above weighs around 100g, and is worth around R4000. An important note is that Anthonij Rupert Wyne doesn’t intend to sell these truffles yet, but truffle enthusiasts will be able to enjoy these delicate treasures at Anthonij Rupert Estate‘s exclusive Truffle Lunches at R950/person, including a wine pairing. The next four-course lunch will be taking place on the 28th of June 2019 (book here). To ensure an exclusive dining experience, each luncheon will be kept to a maximum of 10 people.

For those who want to see exactly where the truffles are grown, there is also an exclusive Altima Truffle Experience and Tour available at R2500 per person, including a guided tour of Altima Estate,  the tasting of 3 estate wines, an introductory talk by Altima Truffle hunter Hanene van Dyk, an opportunity to see how the truffles are discovered and harvested, return transport from Altima Estate back to Anthonij Rupert Estate, tasting of their truffle products produced from Altima’s truffles, a 4 course lunch inspired by Altima truffles, Cape of Good Hope Wine pairing through lunch, with focus on wines produced from Altima vines. The next experience is happening on the 28th of June 2019. Book here.

Take a look at my experience in pictures. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to taste a fresh truffle – I’ve only experienced it as infused truffle oil. The taste is very different to truffle oil – earthy, mushroomy, almost like a matured cheese and absolutely delicious. You can actually smell the truffles right through the soil (after the dogs have indicated that there is a truffle to be found in a certain spot). The truffle hunter then makes the careful decision to either leave the truffle in tact if it isn’t ripe yet, or harvest the truffle if it is fully ripened. Truffles must then be used within about 2 weeks.

Seeing the passion of the team that has successfully cultivated these truffles (9 years later!) on Altima Estate was a very special experience. Sharing in the fruits of their labour was an absolute privilege – thank you very much to Gidi, Hanene and everyone from Anthonij Rupert Wyne who made this memorable experience possible.

For more information or to book your truffle lunch/experience, click here.

The breathtaking views from the lookout point at Altima Estate, Elandskloof valley.

 

Gidi offering us a taste of the Cape of Good Hope range of wines by Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

One of the younger truffle hunting dogs.

 

One of the more experienced truffle hunting dogs.

 

Hanene follows her dog who will point out a truffle shortly.

 

The dog has pointed out a truffle, and Hanene tells us more about how she will go about unearthing it.

 

Careful not to damage the truffle, Hanene shows us the tip of a truffle peeking out from underneath the soil.

 

The menu for our exclusive truffle lunch.

 

Amuse bouche – truffle croquette.

 

First course: Asparagus, soft boiled quail’s egg, honey pickled golden baby beetroot, truffle caviar & vinaigrette.

 

Second course: prawn ravioli, saffron cream and truffle carpaccio.

 

Third course: estate raised black angus steak, thick cut chips, truffle butter.

 

Fourth course: golden paradise tartlet.

 

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