Apart from competent chefs and fresh ingredients, the Zigante restaurant’s exceptional delights owe their incredible aroma and flavor to the jewel of Istrian gastronomy – the truffle. With just a small amount of this aromatic and once mystical mushroom, the dish is transformed into an unforgettable sensory experience for all of our senses. However, it is necessary to hunt truffles in order to create culinary delicacies, and this is where truffle experts and their faithful four-legged companions excel, using their refined sense of smell to locate truffles. The success of truffle hunting and finding is determined by the truffle hound, who views the entire procedure as a game designed to make the owner happy and gain a prize. Due to the cold and the fact that dogs breathe through their noses rather than their mouths, truffle hunters normally hunt with their dogs at night, which makes the entire process, which last about 4 hours, more efficient. Dogs are trained as puppies to become more skilled hunters, and the training method always centers on playing with a dog that learns to detect truffles and focus solely on their scent so that nothing else in the woods distracts him. Truffle oil is frequently used in training, and it is applied to balls and other toys before being buried in the ground to stimulate truffle searching.
The most powerful secret weapon in dog training is to take an experienced dog and a dog in training to a hunt, because the younger dog will copy the older dog’s behavior and therefore learn the most. The training of truffle-hunting dogs ends when they reach the age of four, and a competent truffle dog himself is worth gold (a trained dog can cost up to € 10,000). There is no specific breed for truffle hunting, but the dog’s personality is vital in the selection process: he must enjoy working, be obedient, and be of medium height. Although pigs were once used for truffle hunting, it is now uncommon since it is easier to stop a dog from eating truffles than it is to stop a pig from eating truffles, and it is also much easier to transport a dog. The truffle hunter and the dog both have a part to play in the hunt: the truffle maker must take the dog to a location where he believes truffles may be buried, and the truffle maker must take the dog to a location where he believes truffles may be hidden. Truffles are discovered thanks to the tireless efforts of truffle hunters and their dogs, and they become part of the culinary world when they reach the hands of the chefs at the Zigante restaurant, who use them to produce high-quality dishes that you will enjoy.