Truffles | A fragrant and tasty gastronomic treasure
Harvesting truffles is a real treasure hunt and this precious mushroom, which subtly perfumes our risottos and omelettes, is worth its weight in gold. When placed raw in thin strips on freshly served dishes, the truffle gives off its powerful aroma and nuanced flavour, to the delight of epicureans!
France and Italy, the undisputed truffle champions
This mythical mushroom can be found in several countries, but France and Italy are renowned for producing the most fragrant and tasty truffles. The white truffle of Alba, the magnatum, is the most expensive and the rarest, found only in the wild in Italy. The French melanosporum, a true black diamond from the Périgord region, is certainly the best known and most accessible, since it can be cultivated; it takes more than six years before the first jewels can be harvested from a truffle field.
Buried treasure waiting to be found
Truffles grow underground in the limestone-based soil of oak or hazelnut forests, in perfect symbiosis with the fine roots of the tree that nourishes it and that the mushroom protects with its antibiotic properties. Since it cannot be seen on the surface of the ground, it takes a trained animal to detect them through smell. Traditionally, truffle hunting, or “cavage”, is done using pigs that, like radar, locate the mature fungi by sniffing the ground with their snouts. Today, specially trained sniffer dogs make harvesting easier, faster and more accessible. Highly perishable, extremely precise conditions in terms of temperature, humidity and soil acidity are needed to obtain the perfect truffle. On top of that, it needs to be harvested at the right time – in fall for the white truffle and winter for the black.
A precious mushroom, the truffle conjures up earth, humidity, a little garlic, the forest. A glass of Piedmontese Barolo with white truffle or a Bordeaux with black Périgord truffle are a sublime accompaniment to the cold season’s comfort food!
Try these 2 recipes with truffles
Roasted Truffle Almonds
1 cup of almonds (raw whole blanched almonds are best)
1 tsp (5 ml) of oil (can be canola or olive)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) white truffle oil (or to taste)
Freshly grounded black pepper
Sea salt (to taste)
1 – Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit
2 – Mix almonds with oil
3 – Season with salt
4 – Spread almonds on a baking sheet
5 – Bake almonds for 5-7 minutes. Stir and return to the oven until they are a shade darker (Do not over-toast).
6 – Place the nuts in a bowl and drizzle with truffle oil. Rectify seasoning to your taste.
7 – Serve as an appetizer and pair it with Lot 2093, Villa Mondi Garganega & Chardonnay, IGT Veneto, 2019
Steak Tartare with Truffle
300 g beef tenderloin
1 tbsp (truffle olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
The quality of the beef tenderloin is the key to this recipe and it is very important that the meat is freshly grounded. It can be done by your butcher or by yourself with a knife or with a food processor. Be careful not to overwork the meat.
If you don’t have tenderloin, you can also use entrecôte, and if you want it to be very tender, you can beat the meat with a steak hammer before grinding it.
1 – Add the meat to a bowl.
2 – Drizzle with truffle olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
3 – Reserve for one hour to let the flavours infuse well.
4 – When serving, add fresh truffles or parmigiano shavings.
5 – Pair it with a medium-bodied red wine, Lot 2107, Barbera d’Alba, DOC, Terra, 2018
We would like to thank the member Michael Ferrera who provided this recipe after his trip to Italy in 2019.