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Meet the producers: truffles

Black diamonds at Domaine de Bramarel in Drôme

The first truffle trees at Domaine de Bramarel in Drôme were planted four generation back by Joseph-Pierre Ayme, in 1850 after a particularly bad grape harvest. Gilles Ayme (pictured, above) took over the business from his father in 1991 and says he just loves looking for truffles. His father produced other crops as well as truffles, but Gilles Aymes loves them so much that he’s turned the entire domaine over to truffles, and formalised the company as Ayme Truffe.

His other big passion is dogs. “Any canine can be trained to find truffles, from a Yorkie to a St Bernard, but the best are Labradors. Some people still like to go out hunting for wild truffles, but of course here we help nature along. Our truffles are 100% natural, however.”

A large part of their production is sold to restaurants, but the farm shop is open 365 days a year and sells fresh truffles as well as conserves and truffle oils, plus some lavender oil too. “We plant the truffle trees in lavender fields because it takes 10 years for a truffle tree to produce fruit. So while we’re waiting for them to grow, we grow lavender crops around them. It’s easy to harvest truffles, they grow very near the surface, and collecting them doesn’t damage the trees. So a tree can crop for 60 years.”
They also sell one year-old truffle trees, small oak saplings with their roots carrying truffle spores. They are only €5, but they won’t crop for nine years.

His favourite recipe is incredibly simple. “You just boil the pasta and toss it in truffle-flavoured crème fraîche,” he says. All their products can be bought online as well as in the shop. “We send lots to the City of London, where lots of French people work in banks.” They also offer books about truffles, recipes and dog training lessons to help people train their dogs to hunt truffles.

“It’s a little family business, and we want to stay small rather than become industrial. Our truffles are used by Michelin star chefs, who like to buy from a person, not a business.” The domaine is also a popular tourist attraction. “We do guided visits and tastings in English and in French, which I love, because truffles are magic.”
Their website is

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