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Frozen Truffles


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I had some truffles shaved into a dish last night (black truffles of the Perigord type) and thought they were some of the tastier ones I'd tried this year. I was very surprised to learn that they were flash-frozen. Urbani sells these. This makes me want to try some of Urbani's other truffle products. Has anybody tried the Himalayan ones? #### they're cheap.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have not had Urbani's Himalayan truffles, but I did have a menu of Himalayan truffles in Bordeaux. They were short of dreadful. Worse yet there was lots of truffle in each dish. I can't remember the various dishes, but the truffles imparted no flavor although they were the main ingredient in several of the dishes. The price had seemed a bargain, even after I noticed these were from the Himalayas. I recalled having read an article about people substituting these for French truffles, but since they were upfront about it on the menu, I thought maybe it was worth a shot. At best I thought they had the flavor of bread or pasta, though not of really great bread. My wife wisely ordered the game menu for a few francs less and was richly rewarded with a fine grilled pigeon, while I slogged down some heavy sauces designed to make some sort of dish out of the "truffles." Your milage may vary. Good luck.

Did you have these at a restaurant or friend's house and do you know who carries the Urbani frozen truffles. Do you know the retail price?

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I had them at a restaurant. They are, I'm told by reliable sources, used at a lot of restaurants including some you wouldn't think would use anything but fresh. They're available directly from Urbani and the prices are at www.urbani.com

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Quote: from Fat Guy on 9:10 pm on Jan. 1, 2002

They are, I'm told by reliable sources, used at a lot of restaurants including some you wouldn't think would use anything but fresh.

On the use of frozen black truffles, it is possible that Bruno at Lorgues uses them (unclear whether from Urbani).  Of course, I have only circumstantial supporting factors.  Although I have not looked into the matter in detail, French black truffle is generally not available during the summertime.  I had quite a bit of black truffle at Bruno during that time, and it was fine.

Without any knowledge as to the truffles Boyer uses, I have noted that his dish of "truffe en croute" (whole black truffle cooked in a pastry shell -- wonderful) appears to be available when black truffles are not in season.

Speaking of truffles, the other meal I had at Troisgros recently (see "Kobe beef" under "Cooking" for a description of the first :) ) was an all-truffle tasting course, with L'Escalope de Saumon a l'Oseille added out of necessity to sample the dish. The menu was as follows:

Aspic de cepes en tasse (aspic of porcini mushrooms in a cup -- this item had crushed black truffles as a top layer)

De fine lames de Saint Jacques et de truffe, du cresson sur pain "Melba" (thin slices of scallops and truffles, watercress, on Melba toast)

Une rapee de truffe sur un cannelloni aux chanterelles grises (truffles on cannelloni and grey girolle mushrooms)

Noix d'huitres chaudes et de la truffe en julienne (warm oysters and truffles)

L'Escalope de saumon a l'oseille (salmon with sorrel; see middle (?) part of discussion under "Chef of the Century" thread in "General" for a discussion of signature dishes)

La langoustine, la truffe, la poire, le poireau (langoustine, truffles, pear and leeks)

Le lievre en deux facons: en royale et en aiguillettes rosees (rabbit in two preparations -- royale and in medium rare slices; perhaps the weakest dish of an otherwise good meal)

Instant de douceurs

Quarts sucres

The above was served with a to-die-for 1988 Montrachet, Lafon, and a nice half-bottle of 1978 Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan.  Champagne by the glass was 1995 Moet et Chandon.

(Edited by cabrales at 6:02 am on Jan. 3, 2002)

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As I understand it, French black truffles are available year round. It's just that in the winter they're winter truffles and in the summer they're summer truffles. The summer truffles have much less taste. In addition, freezing is not the only way to preserve a winter truffle. It's also possible to use pretty much any other preservation technique. Christian Delouvrier at Lespinasse, for example, buys a whole mess of truffles at the peak of the winter season and preserves them himself, in duck fat. This is apparently standard procedure where he's from.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven -- Are you referring to summer truffles or Brumales truffles?  I would agree that certain French truffles are available all year around, however, I would think that Bruno or Boyer would have to specify if such truffles were being used instead of the more typical French black truffle.  Bruno in particular tends to spell out when summer truffles or Brumales are used; he appears to have the traditional black truffle all year around.  Is sourcing described in the chapter on Bruno in "Goose in Touluse"?

I have also wondered about the differences, if any, between the French black truffle from Southern France and that from Perigord.  

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Here are a couple of primers on truffle varieties:

http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Main/Feature_Basic_Template/1,1197,302,00.html

http://www.starchefs.com/truffles/article.html

I think the summer truffles most typically used in restaurants in France and here are Aestivum, not Brumales, but I'm not so well versed in the terminology to be able to say for sure. Most chefs I've spoken to just say "winter" and "summer":

http://www.sainte-alvere.com/uk_m1c2.asp?Var=0

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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