Tuber Aestivum: Sussex Black Gold, October 2014.
Last January, there was a new addition to the our family: a scruffy mix of Norfolk terrier x Jack Russell. B was a mere 10 weeks when we got her, having never hada dogs before, it was a daunting prospect indeed, but it was to prove one of the best decisions we ever made. As the propreiter of a Foraging and cookery school, i felt it would be great to involve B in the business somehow- the obvious choice for a terrier would be for rabbiting or ratting (the later unlikely to feature on the menu...), but why not a truffle dog? A lot of people thought the idea of training such a ferret to hunt truffles was a ridiculous notion and unlikely to come to fruition. As it turned out, I like a challenge...
Along with a bit of help from a friend and the queen of truffles herself, Melissa Waddingham, who introduced me to the forager's holy grail back in 2011 for an article I did on her for the independent, I set about 7 months of intesive truffle dog training.
After, moving training from the living room to the garden and then to the woods, I felt that B was ready to embark on her first truffle season- she was working well and it was time to upgrade. Its hard to put into words the first foray to the truffle grounds with the little ferret and quite the elation I felt when she found her first truffle and the dozens she has found since. She has come a long way in her first year, and we couldnt be prouder of what she has achieved, so much so that we honoured her by making her a Hunter Gather Cook Instructor. It has never been my intention to sell the truffles she finds, they are primarily for use at the school and whatever is left goes to friends or our local- The Ram inn in Firle, in return for beer and fillet steak for B. Bartery is still a valuable currency round these parts.
B may be a working dog, but she certainly enjoys her work, I think the video below illustrates that perfectly- she's a happy little soul and when she isn't tearing it about at 100mph, she is at least semi professional- but we still have a way to go!
On Another note, we at Hunter Gather Cook have had the pleasure of doing some videos with Vice Munchies, here is the first installment from earlier this year on how to butcher and cook wild rabbit at our Treehouse HQ, pleased to say it has racked up an astonishing 63,000 hits! Not bad for some feral folk from the woods...