The region of Meteora in central Greece is famous for its monasteries built on towering pillars of rock. But now excitement is increasing for a very different set of treasures buried in the region’s fertile soil: truffles.
This Sunday (March 26) marked the official beginning of ‘truffle season’ with the 1st Meteora Truffle Hunt. The event was organized by the Meteora Natural History Museum & Mushroom Museum, in an effort to promote Thessaly’s natural wealth in mushroom and truffle varieties.
The event was deemed a success by organizers pleased by the turnout from the general public. Also taking part were local dignitaries and representatives as well as executives from major tour operators, interested in capitalizing on the region’s little-known wealth of edible fungi.
During the expedition, truffle hunter and chef Christos Plesiotis and his dog, Brio, successfully unearthed some prime truffles which the chef used to whip up a well-received pasta dish, cooking right in the forest.
While Greece does not have the truffle-hunting tradition of say, France or Italy, the microclimate in many forested parts of central and northern Greece is ideal for mushrooms and truffles. Over 3,000 varieties of mushrooms have been recorded so far, with the number being half of what is estimated to exist across Greece. Experts believe that the country will soon be considered among the richest in Europe in terms of mushroom and truffle variety.
Thessaly in particular is famous for its wild mushrooms. Many shops sell local dried mushrooms and restaurants create specialist dishes to showcase the regional delicacies.
During truffle-gathering season which will last until late October, the Meteora Natural History Museum will organize regular truffle hunts on Sundays. The activity is also included in itineraries offered by local travel agencies and is an increasingly popular activity for visitors to the area.
The organizers aim to leverage truffle hunting as a new tourist activity and thus help further Greece’s image as a gastronomic destination, one that goes beyond sun and sea holidays.
For more information about truffle hunting excursions, contact the Museum at Tel. (+30) 24320.24.959 or [email protected].