Last Friday I had the kind of lunch every remotely serious foodie fantasises about – a meal dedicated to the wonders of the truffle. Renowned the world over as ‘black gold’, these oddly-shaped, knobbly, wart-looking fungi are a rare treat indeed, because unlike in Europe, they used to be pretty much unavailable in South Africa. That all changed a few years ago when the folks at Anthonij Rupert Wines decided to inoculate oak trees at their high-altitude Altima farm close to Villiersdorp with truffle spores. Fast forward a couple of years and today Anthonij Rupert is the only wine estate in SA harvesting and offering these precious fungi for sale.

Harvesting is probably not the correct word, because these little beauties hide in the ground. The only way to find them is to hunt for them by sniffing them out. That used to be the task of pigs, but they have the unfortunate habit of eating them, so these days specially trained dogs are used for the truffle hunt. Hanene van Dyk is the truffle hunter (or trufelau) at Altima farm. For two precious months in winter she and her Lagotto Romagnolo dogs have busy days finding and digging up black gold.

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Truffle hunters: Hanene van Dyk and her special Lagotto Romagnolo dogs.

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I had the privilege of sitting next to Hanene and her charming husband Coenie (Altima’s vineyard specialist) over lunch. They entertained us with stories of the time they spent in Italy, learning everything there is to know about truffles, truffle hunting and her four-legged hunter helpers (and yes, when work is done they come for cuddles and expect to sleep on the bed, just like any other fur baby).

Lunch started with a selection of artisanal bread served with truffle butter. Next up it was a fabulously giant prawn with asparagus, an orange and tarragon beurre blanc and truffle caviar. Heavenly. For mains we had a choice. There was Black Angus brisket with polenta, caramalised onions, a sauce Perigaux and truffle shavings. I opted for the truffle tagliatelle with a Parmesan cream, but the lovely PR for Anthonij Rupert, Pippa Pringle, let me taste her beef. Both sublime.

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Oh the joy of good food: Bread and truffle butter was followed by prawns with an orange and tarragon beurre blanc and truffle caviar. Then it was Black Angus brisket with polenta and truffle or truffle tagliatelle with Parmesan cream and truffle shavings. Oh my.

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A raspberry sorbet palate cleanser followed before we were treated to a Valrhona chocolate bomb with Amaretti crumbs, candied nuts and gooseberries. The sharpness of the gooseberries were a delightful contrast to the rich creaminess of the dark chocolate. Still we weren’t done because a final indulgence arrived in the form of a sable choux puff filled with a chocolate honey cremeux. It was coloured and shaped to look like a truffle and I made space for it. I wasn’t sorry!

Decadent indulgence: A Valrhona chocolate bomb with Amaretti crumble, candied nuts and delightfully sharp gooseberries.

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So why should any of this matter to you? Because YOU TOO could experience this incredible truffle meal as Anthonij Rupert will be offering it for the entire month of July. The Terra del Capo restaurant on the Anthonij Rupert estate is where the truffle lunches are held. It is simply one of my all-time favourite winelands venues. It’s a small and intimate space, exquisitely decorated – elegant and just a touch glamorous without being intimidating. You can’t help but feel a bit special sitting down to lunch here.

The multi-course truffle lunch costs R1 200 per person and booking is of course essential. If this is a bit too rich for your blood but you still want a fabulous day out in the Franschhoek valley, I do encourage you to still go. Instead of the truffle menu you can simply dine from their utterly brilliant and very pocket friendly antipasti menu. Highly, highly recommended, and I don’t say these things easily! Afterwards you can pop in to their deli where you can stock up on all sorts of truffle-inspired goodies – from truffle butter, truffle salt and truffle pasta to truffle salami and even truffle-infused sausages. Due to the incredible demand they also offer fresh truffles for sale for as long as the season lasts. Go home with one and discover your inner Masterchef!

For bookings contact ‘tasting@rupertwines.com’ or book via www.rupertwines.com

For more information or truffle order queries, e-mail tasting@rupertwines.com.

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About this article: I only write about places and things I actually really like. Should I receive complimentary meals/tickets/diamonds, this will always be revealed. I’m not in the rubbishing business, so if something is not my cup of tea, I’ll simply not write about it (but I’ll keep the diamonds). Therefore this is not so much a review, as a personal recommendation of places and things I like.

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Ook beskikbaar in: Afrikaans