What do Daniel Boulud, Richard Gere (both on screen and off) and Oprah have in common? An obsession with truffles. The mysterious mushroom has been a key ingredient across cuisines since ancient Egypt, owing much of their allure to their delicacy and scarcity. For starters, unlike the more common creminis or shitakes, truffles are much rarer and richer. In fact, they are almost impossible to cultivate and start to deteriorate the moment they leave the ground. But one thing’s for sure: there’s no denying how their unique taste and aroma can elevate even the simplest dish to a culinary experience.
Let’s start with the basics. There are three types of truffles: the pungent white truffle, the earthy black truffle and the delicate burgundy truffle. Much like wine, a truffle’s taste and aroma is linked to where and how it grows. It comes as no surprise, then, that the same regions that produce the best wines are home to the most delicious truffles, including Italy, France, Spain and the west coast of North America. Their savoury, umami flavour pairs best with fat; anything cheesy, creamy, oily, buttery. From scrambled eggs to risotto or even a baked potato, just a sliver of truffle can add depth and richness.
With such a short shelf life, fresh is best. Usually, pigs or dogs are used nose out the scent of truffles in the ground. But even if you do have the chance to go truffle hunting, don’t get your hopes up too high: it’s not uncommon for to turn up with nothing, but that just makes the challenge of finding one all the more thrilling.
If you can’t make it to Tuscany this week, these truffle-based products will tide you over.
Jacobsen Black & White Truffle Salt
$40 USD at jacobsensalt.com
Can’t decide between black and white? Get this salt infused with Italian white truffle and black truffle from Oregon.
Tennessee Black Truffle Honeycomb
From $16.95 USD at regalisfoods.com
This honey hits all the right notes: sweet, savoury, crunchy, truffle-y.
Truff White Truffle Infused Hot Sauce
$34.99 USD at truffhotsauce.com
Want a little heat with your truffle? Infused with white truffle this hot sauce is exactly what you never knew you needed.
Noble Handcrafted Black Truffle Oil
From $15.95 USD at mikuniwildharvest.com
Truffle oil is the gold standard to infuse your food with truffle flavour. This one is made by a fifth generation Italian dynasty.