Wednesday's In The Know: Truffles. The Highly Sought after and Priciest Vegetable in the World!
Those delicious decadent and highly sought after truffles…
I have seen the exchange of truffles with my own eyes: A undisclosed climate controlled white van pulls up. After quick verification you are who you say you are, the back doors open where crates, carefully lined with hay or straw (or the likes of it), are nestling truffles with the upmost respect and attention to preserving their fragile nature. A scale is brought out and after a quick exchange on the amount desired, truffles are weighed, a nod is given and they make their way to what looks like a to-go container also lined with a hay-straw like substance. Money is exchanged, doors are closed (and locked) and you are both on your way! Yes, I have seen this exchange with my own eyes and although it may look like a very “sketchy” transaction, its truffles that are causing the fuss.
Yes, they will cost you a pretty penny, hence the heavy security, but they are worth every ounce (literally!). Bought by the ounce, truffles are a delicacy often splurged on while toasting to a special night out or special occasion. Personally speaking, I don’t think we need to find a special occasion to enjoy them, just a forecasted budget that allows for their addition from time to time. Now that I have given my humble opinion on the matter, let’s dig a little deeper to fully understand what all this “hype” is about.
- Truffles are part of the fungi family but solely grow underground. They can range in size from that of a walnut to the size of a grown man’s fist. Truffles are highly sought after by diners because of their irresistible flavor profile and by truffle hunters because of their high ticket price. Usually found at the base of trees, pigs or dogs are often used to locate them simply using their sense of smell as a guide. Truffle sniffing dogs are most commonly used as pigs have a tendency to eat the truffles once they find them, making them very pricey pigs!!! Truffles cannot be cultivated or controlled which makes them so special and again, highly sought after. If a distributor doesn’t have truffles, they simply have to wait for a shipment before they can fulfill the order.
- Black Truffles:
- Price: On average, black truffles will run you $95 per ounce. A few shavings of black truffles can cost an extra $100 at most restaurants but most (including myself) say its worth it on a special occasion!
- Overview: Most popular in restaurants because of their availability and lower price point.
- White Truffles:
- Price: On average, white truffles will run $168 an ounce because they are not as common or readily available as black truffles. According to CBS News, a European white truffle can sell for $3,600 a pound! CBS News also reported that recently, one two-pound white truffle sold for $300,000 which speaks to the needed security detail and “sketchy” transaction mentioned earlier.
- Overview: Highly sought after but harder to find. White truffles tend to have a stronger aroma and flavor profile than black truffles making a huge statement to anything they touch!
- Mostly found online, at specialty (as in very high end) stores and through private distributors, truffles are a hot commodity and hard to get your hands on. Your best bet may be making friends with the chef at your high end eateries and seeing if they will share their contact. I have seen the distribution centers where truffles are held and the smell alone in this undisclosed and heavily gated and alarmed facility is enough to put you over the edge.
- Since truffles are not peeled before use, it is important that you carefully but meticulously clean them! Use a soft mushroom brush and a little water to carefully scrub the outside ensuring you reach between all the nooks and crannies.
Carefully dry with a paper towel before use.
Truffle slicers are what most restaurants use to shave small amounts of truffle onto your dish of choice. Truffles can also be grated depending on the desired use.
Now that you have the skinny on truffles and all of their delicious characteristics, you may want to start saving for that ounce of shaved truffle on your pasta course.
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