“Hunting for truffles … Is this even possible in Austria?”, my mum wonders out loud when I tell her about our search for truffles through the Graz Leechwald forest. I must admit I didn’t quite know myself whether we’d really be finding truffles in (or near) Graz; it’s a city area, after all. Quite the impossible task, don’t you think?
If nine say, “Can’t do it”, then a tenth person comes along and just does it. In our case, it is biologist and truffle expert Gabriele Sauseng.
Smiling, biologist and Lagotto dog breeder Gabriele Sauseng meets us right by the Leechwald forest at the northern outskirts of Graz, her six-month-old “apprentice” Pablo on a leash. The lively truffle dog has already started training during the guided truffle hikes organised by the city of Graz, and is practically trained on site. For the actual truffle hunt however, Gabriele Sauseng takes her experienced truffle dog Camouflage with her. Nomen est omen: Camou’s earth-colored fur adapts itself very well to the colours of the Graz city forest area. That morning, Camou has succeeded in digging up no less than 73 grams of truffles! Altogether, we learn, there are some 150 sites and no less than nine truffle varieties that can be found in the Graz forests. Wow! I am quite astonished about so much new knowledge, which Gabriele and her fascinating Lagotto truffle dogs delight in providing us with.
The website of the city of Graz has this useful information in English language about the Graz Truffle Festival. It says, “The Graz truffle is a unique culinary delicacy, a diamond of cuisine, incomparable in taste, delicious and expensive. Long ago, the ancient Egyptians appreciated the gourmet mushroom that grew under the ground. Even the burgundy truffle, particularly coveted by gourmets, was harvested in Graz.” Amazing, right? Check it all out for organising your next visit.
International Truffle Market at the Paradeishof
However, the truffle hunt through Graz does not end with a visit to the Graz city forest. Charming host and initiator of the “Graz Long Table“, an idea born out of the city’s dedication to quality food marketing, Waltraud Hutter receives us on the same day to visit the international truffle market in Graz. Numerous exhibitors from Austria and abroad present exquisite, high-quality truffle specialties from their respective regions. Waltraud Hutter introduces us to the no less charming Giuseppe Perner, a Sicilian who moved to Graz for love and whose company is responsible for the organization of the truffle market. The Graz Truffle is also represented with many different product specialties. We get to know Lorenz Kumpusch, chef and owner of the food company Gaumengut, who runs the Graz Trüffel stand with his wife and invites us to a tasting.
Further culinary highlights await at selected restaurants that offer truffle specialities throughout Graz.
Not all truffle varieties offered at these restaurants come from Graz or Austria, but are complimented of course also from well-known truffle regions such as Alba or Istria. As a “truffle layman”, however, I could not taste any differences in quality that would speak for a lower or higher estimation of foreign truffles compared to the Graz truffle. What I took away from the conversations is that the Graz Truffle performs very well internationally, and is also respected by expert circles. I can recommend the following restaurants on the occasion of my truffle visit in Graz.
dreizehn by Gauster
This trendy restaurant, which is directly adjacent to the Franciscan Church in Graz thus providing a stark modern contrast to the historical street ambience, has prepared an exquisite truffle menu for us. In fact, I enjoyed both the food as well as the restaurant so much that I shall also remember it for my next (culinary) visit to the Styrian capital!
The Graz Skybar in the Schlossberg Restaurant likely offers the very best view of Graz down below. A perfect address, not only for the exclusive truffle dinner that awaits us here, but also for all special moments in life. I would love to see myself return here, for example with my dear husband, for a nice candlelight dinner!
Truffle Gala Dinner at Café Sacher
It was only after this visit to Graz that I realized that Café Sacher is not only in Vienna. In four courses, the kitchen team of Café Sacher Graz spoils us to even more truffle delights. A delicate truffle note in the chocolate cake as well as a more dominant truffle taste in our main course. I had no idea just how versatile truffles can be, culinary speaking so to say! Do make the Graz truffle festival a reason to visit the Styrian capital city when next in Austria!
Last but not least, I can recommend heading over to my picture gallery of all things truffle festival Graz:
Disclaimer: I have been invited to visit Graz on the occasion of its annual Graz Truffle Festival, taking place in late October / early November. All opinions are my own.