Staci O'Toole of Truffle Huntress (trufflehuntress.com) and her trained Lagotto Romagnolo dog, Mila, uncovered a prized 1.2-ounce black Périgord truffle in El Dorado County this week. In less than an hour Mila sniffed out the truffle buried two inches below ground among 2,000 trees. Found at the base of a hazelnut tree that had been inoculated with the Périgord truffle fungus, the golf ball-sized gem is valued at about $100, while a pound of this “black diamond” of the culinary world can garner $1,200 or more.
O'Toole of Mountain View, Calif. operates one of a only a few truffle hunting businesses in California. Though the truffle is a fungus it is subterranean instead of growing above ground so it is not considered a mushroom.