Il mio nome è Enrico Bacio il Tartufaio (My name is Enrico Kiss the Truffle Hunter). Mi amicos call me Rico, for short. My tartufaio is Guglielmo (his truffle hunting name), and my favorite lady for whom I was a birthday-love present is Nella. I am a Lagotto Romagonolo that is paws-ionnate about all things truffles! I love finding those elusive earth diamonds!
I’m training for the 2020/2021 truffle hunting season for Tuber melanosporum, Tuber aestivum, and any indigenous truffles I can find. My daughter’s name is Zara, short for Mazara del Vallo, Sicily, where I was born, and I’ve become her truffle mentor like my mother was for me.
I wasn’t even a year old when I attended the First Napa Truffle Festival in 2010.
There’s a funny story about how I discovered the Napa Truffle Festival and all of those yummy treats and heavenly smells. My Tartufaio and I were driving around when we heard Connie Green on National Public Radio talking about foraging and her cookbook The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes.
Ever the inquisitive one, my Tartufaio sent Connie an email asking her about local foraging. She invited him to meet her at the Napa Truffle Festival. Well, as they say, the rest is history. We attended the truffle growers meeting, they wouldn’t let me go to the dinners, but I hear they were spectacularly delicious! Connie and other truffle purveyors set up some blind truffle hide spots for me to find. I’ve been finding truffles since I first suckled from my momma, Gaia, so I ran to each truffle find beaming my big smile, waiting for my earned treats. As prescribed by my Italian Lagotto Romagnolo Union, I’m a card-carrying member. I am the shop steward, ensuring that my daughter Zara is duly rewarded for her incredible truffle hunting talents.
One of my favorite humans has one of the best job titles ever, Chief Truffle Officer, Robert Chang. It was love at first smell; the luscious truffle aroma was strong with the CTO. He’s a truffle wizard who integrates and synthesized science, nature, and a bit of magic to cultivate truffles, which Zara and I have found at secret locations.
I’ve been a bit more nostalgic lately, looking back since the First Annual Napa Truffle festival and training hard for the 2020/2021 truffle hunting season. I’ve had to be creative because we have added a new weekly regime to my training. I get to see some of my new favorite people, the nurses, and an oncologist who hook me up so I can live to truffle hunt another day. I’m incredibly grateful that chemotherapy and lymphoma have not impacted my sense of smell. Zara and I hunt very well together, just like I did with my mama, Gaia, and my sister, Malu, in Sicily.
This would help me with my chemotherapy treatment, which keeps the lymphoma at bay and keeps me truffle hunting the 2020/2021 season and beyond with my daughter Zara.
I still have a lot of truffle hunting tricks to teach her, more truffles to uncover, kisses, and smiles to share.
My motto: “Hanno sempre una zampa in avanti (Always have one paw forward),” In other words…I like to look at life as my water bowl is always half full!
I’m looking forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones.