One of the most coveted ingredients on earth, the Black Summer Truffle – or Tartufi Neri Estivi in Italian – hits peak season in May through August. While, the pungent flavor of the black truffle is more subdued than its counterpart varieties, it adds a perfect earthiness to our Fresh Summer Truffle Risotto.
Our black summer truffles are grown in Umbria, an Italian region bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche. Umbria is crossed by two valleys, Valle Umbra and Val Tiberina, and is the only Italian region with neither a coastline nor a border with other countries. In addition to truffles, Umbrian agriculture is noted for its tobacco, olive oil and vineyards, which produce excellent wines.
Historically, pigs were used in truffle–seeking. It was their keen sense of smell and innate ability to sniff out truffles that made them ideal hunters — but their tendency to eat the truffles once found that shifted the practice.
In Italy, truffle dogs, often the Lagotto Romagnolo, are used. While the Lagotto Romagnolo has the same keen sense of smell as the pig, they must be trained to sniff out the truffles. The process starts with retrieving a rubber ball, and then a small bit of smelly Gorgonzola cheese. Once the dog has learned to retrieve the cheese, it is hidden, forcing him to sniff it out for a reward. Finally, a small truffle is substituted for the cheese, and the dog is trained to fetch and then dig up the truffle.
Sabatino Tartufi team members truffle hunting in Umbria, Italy
The Lagotto Romagnolo has a keen sense of smell making it ideal for truffle hunting.
Sabatino Tartufi team members sorting through summer black truffles.
The summer black truffle can vary in size between 2 and 10cm.
This season we’re bring summer black truffles to life in our Fresh Summer Truffle Risotto made with shaved Italian black truffle, roasted mushrooms, corn and chive oil.
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an ancient breed of water retriever from the Romagna subregion of Italy. Its name originates from the Italian word lago, meaning lake, or "lake dog from Romagna." While the breed's traditional function is a gundog, the breed is often used to hunt truffles.
Lagotti (the plural form of Lagotto) vary in color from white with brown to roan, and have a wooly waterproof coat that is very thick and curly. They are excellent swimmers and love to dig – making them the perfect truffle hunting companion.