Thursday, November 11, 2010


After my delicious truffle filled dinner at Frank’s Kitchen, I thought it quite appropriate to talk about the truffle and my love for such a delicacy.

A truffle is a rare, edible mushroom, harvested in the wild and extremely expensive!! They have no relation to the chocolate truffle - but they could not be more delicious! Truffles require climates with mild weather changes, so they grow in a limited number of places that include France, Italy, Croatia, some parts of the United States, Middle East and North Africa. They grow about a foot below ground, near the roots of oak, elm, chestnut, pine and willow trees. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, sometimes smooth but generally bumpy and wrinkled looking.

Truffle hunting is a big business that usually lasts from fall to spring. Each year, trufficulteurs use specialty-trained dogs to find these “buried treasures.” This generally takes place at night!

There are a few varieties of truffles with the two most famous being:

The White Truffle
Comes from Northern Italy and most famously from the countryside of the city Alba. It can also be found in Croatia. Italian white truffles are highly esteemed!

The Black Truffle
“Black Périgord truffle” is named after the Périgord region in France which grows these truffles exclusively with oak.

Now to the best part, using truffles in cooking! Because of truffles' high price, they are generally used quite sparingly. White truffles are generally served raw (as when it is cooked it looses its strong natural flavour) and shaved over pasta or salads. White or black paper thin truffle slices are often put into meats, or under the skins of roasted fowl, in fois gras preparations, pâtés or in stuffing’s. They are also used in some specialty cheeses. Truffle oil is an alternative to a fresh truffle as the cost in lower, yet it provides the flavoring to enhance a truffle aroma in cooking and can be used for just about anything. Fresh truffles are generalyl found at the end of fall into mid-winter, but quite often only available in specialty stores. When selecting a truffle, make sure it is firm, with a fragrant aroma, blemish free and well-textured. It is best to eat truffles as soon as possible because they are quite perishable!

Here is a great idea with the use of truffle oil - inspired from a pizza I had last night.

Truffle Filled Pizza: A basic pizza dough - white (so no sauce) with some fresh mozerella baked onto the pizza. Then top the pizza with wonderful bitter arugula, fresh shavings of parmesan, proscuitto strips and drizzle with truffle oil. If you have the good stuff, shave those truffles on top! Now that is a delicious truffle filled meal!

photo credit: google images

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