There are mushrooms and there are truffles. Truffles are indeed mushrooms. But they are the First Growths of the mushroom world. Truffles are tremendously expensive. They are one of the best, luxury, food products. Their exotic nature has been enjoyed since ancient Roman times.
Truffles have the ability to transform a simple home chef into a gastronomic powerhouse with the ease of a magician’s wand! With only the aid of a truffle slicer, anyone can create a dish that competes with the best food found in three star restaurants! Because truffle season takes place at the end of the year, they are also the perfect holiday indulgence.
The truffle takes its name from the Latin term tuber, for its unique shape, which eventually became tufer and finally truffle.
If wine can be condensed into two colors, red and white, truffles can be viewed the same way, black and white. Black truffles mainly come from Perigord France, not far from Provence in the Rhone Valley. They are also found in Spain, Italy, Croatia, Oregon, Australia and even Serbia. But the best black truffles are found in France.
White Truffles are much harder to find. They grow in Italy in Alba and Asti. But they can also be found close to Tuscany, in San Miniato and even in Croatia. White truffles are best when simply shaved over select dishes. The best black truffles are more versatile. They can be used in cooking, for example when slipped under the skin of a chicken, which would infuse the unique truffle character. They can also be shaved over a myriad of dishes like potatoes, eggs or most famously pasta.
Quality truffles are hard to cultivate. They are best when grown in the wild, close to the roots of young, select trees, predominately, oak, hazelnut, chestnut, willow, elm and pine trees. Truffles enjoy soils with high alkaline content found in Phosphate and limestone, low levels of moisture and they prefer being close to same type of tree.
To find the elusive mushroom, truffle hunters use specially trained pigs and dogs to help ferret out the fungus. While pigs are more efficient at finding truffles than dogs, there are problems with using pigs to find truffles. The biggest problem comes from the fact that the pigs love to eat truffles! Who doesn’t? You cannot blame the pigs for their good taste. For that reason, many truffle hunters are now using dogs in their search for truffles.
Now that you know more than you ever cared to learn about a truffle, what do you do with them? That’s the best part of using truffles in cooking. With only the assistance of a truffle grater, anyone can create a perfect dish that will have everyone at the table salivating for more.
Truffles are versatile. They can be used in a myriad of dishes. But for my palate, they best simply shaved over warm, simple ingredients. Buy a truffle slicer from any cooking store and you are set. Make an omelet, scrambled eggs, fried egg or potato dish, give the truffle a few shaves and serve. Shave your truffle over chicken, stews and you’re set. Or, use them with the classic dish, egg noodles with butter and olive oil.
Al this truffle talk has me hungry. I’m thinking tonight perfect for, you guessed it, truffles! Keep in mind, truffles have an incredibly aromatic quality. They are extremely earthy, with a garlic accent. They are also versatile when it comes to pairing with wine. Due to their pungent, earthy quality, wines that offer equally earthy, as well as truffle scents make the best partners, when it comes to matching truffles in a wine and food pairing. While numerous people claim they must be paired with wines from Northern Italy, due in part to their shared origins, I do not believe hard and fast rules for wine and food pairings work.
Truffles, with their exotic perfume and exalted status in the world of food deserve your best wine. Serving one of the worlds best luxury ingredients demands one of your best wines. I prefer older Bordeaux, due to their shared truffle qualities. After all, since when is too much of a good thing, a bad thing? The famous quote, “Anything worth doing in excess is worth doing in excess applies here.” While many older Bordeaux wines eventually take on truffle scents with maturity, for this occasion, for the potato dish, we went with 1982 Pomerol!
1982 Trotanoy exploded with a nose of truffle, tobacco, plum, chocolate, wet earth, sweet cherries and floral notes. The wine at 30 years of age is pure silk and velvet on the palate, ending with a sensuous melange of pure, ripe, sweet, opulent layers of black and red fruits. This decadent Right Bank wine is drinking perfectly today. 96 Pts