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ulterior epicure

Alba v. Perigord

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The best way to get truffle flavor into your popcorn would be butter.

My sentiments exactly... but isn't it (butter) always the best way to flavor ANYTHING? :laugh:

U.E.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I don't want to sound unenlightened, but I've had some damn swell truffle oil (and some brutally awful stuff), and people like Tommy Keller call for it in their recipes, so I'd suggest that not all truffle oils are a dead loss. Just look for the smallest, most expensive bottle you can find (the stuff we get runs about $15 for an airlplane liquor bottle-full), and avoid anything that looks to be a bargain.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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You can get really good truffle oil online (I presume it's infused) from a company called Valette in the Dordogne area of France (they also do incredible foie gras):

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=e...2004-14,GGLD:en

If you are ever near this area in France you should drop in for lunch and try their foie gras plates and black truffle omelettes. It's brilliant value, but be warned, the portions are absolutely huge.

I had been unaware of the synthetic version of truffle oil until recently which was close to poison. I could still taste it the following morning.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

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The best way to get truffle flavor into your popcorn would be butter. Truffle flavor infuses very nicely into warm melted butter. For optimum extraction of flavor, grate the truffle with a fine microplane.

"Truffle salt" is certain to be just as artificially flavored as truffle oil.

The truffle salt had visible specks of black truffle among the salt.


PS: I am a guy.

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I started using Ritrovo truffle salt and am quite happy with the quality. It's a much cleaner flavor than even the passable truffle infused oil I've found (the truffle oil I've used does have a few bits of truffle in it).

The Ritrovo salt (braned Cassina Rossa) does have some "natural flavoring" added to it, but it's about 5% truffle, and the aroma is quite nice. It is made from Italian summer truffles.

The truffle salt works well with eggs, and that's my primary use for it. I use it very sparingly, and although I've probably dipped into it every time I've made eggs in the last 6 months or so, I've only made a slight dent in it.

One of my customers, Les Cadeaux Gourmets, offers Ritrovo products.

3.5 oz jar

Truffle trio

(I don't have any financial interest in Ritrovo or truffle salt; it's only made me slightly poorer :raz:)

Incidentally, I just happened to order some of the truffle salt mentioned on another thread on eG.  It seems to be legit., not at all chemical-y, and infused with bits of truffle.  The ingredients on the package are only sea salt and truffles.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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It is certain that all commercial truffle oil or "truffle salt" is chemically enhanced, period. Unless you've made it yourself, it will be infused with "natural flavor" that is produced in a lab and not in the wild. It doesn't matter how small and cute or expensive the bottle is, or if a famous chef calls for it in a recipe. The little bit of truffle that you see in the bottle of oil or the ground up dried bits of truffle that you see in the salt are just there to make it look legitimate. Dried truffle, especially summer truffle, has the culinary value of sawdust.

That being said, if you like truffle oil or truffle salt go ahead and use it. If however you insist on thinking that you're using real truffle then I might suggest that you stay up on December 24th, bake cookies, pour a glass of cold milk and wait for Santa Claus.

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Dried truffle is of course not quite the same, regardless, but it is surprisingly decent in the truffle salt; I had far lower expectations when I first tasted it.

The distinction between natural and artificial flavorings is very small, as you rightly, though perhaps a little zealously, point out. The distinction is whether the flavor extraction technique is using "natural" or "synthetic"... alcohol, water, and oil infusions are considered natural; heat extraction is considered natural, pressure is considered natural. All of these techniques could be used in a home kitchen, in fact. A few other solvents considered natural might not be reasonable for home use, of course.

The distinction between "lab made" and "kitchen made" isn't always that important, as the processes you use to make food at home involve thousands of naturally-occuring chemicals. Food just looks like food; it's still a bunch of chemicals.

The main distinction between fresh truffles and dried is in the volatile flavor molecules. The most volatile chemicals will disappear or break down quickly, but many of them are lost in transit, too, either because of time or temperature, so it's a matter of degree.

Claiming it isn't "real" is a bit excessive. It is certainly not "the same" as fresh truffle, but it's as real as vodka.

Most cuisines develop different uses for preserved foods than the fresh, but either one would be considered "real." As an example, attempting to use fresh shiitake, fresh bonito, or fresh kelp to make a Japanese soup stock will produce disastrous results. Using dried versions of the same items will be far superior.

Most "truffled eggs" aren't incorporating much in the way of truffles; they are infusing the flavor of truffes into the eggs, either by resting with the eggs or infusing it into butter. Most of the flavor is actually created by that "infusion" phase. But that's quite real. Truffle salt is about as effective at introducing that flavor, and if used judiciously, will not be overpowering. If I want truffled popcorn, I think a pinch of my truffle salt may actually work better than fresh, unless I use more butter than would make sense for popcorn.

It is certain that all commercial truffle oil or "truffle salt" is chemically enhanced, period. Unless you've made it yourself, it will be infused with "natural flavor" that is produced in a lab and not in the wild. It doesn't matter how small and cute or expensive the bottle is, or if a famous chef calls for it in a recipe. The little bit of truffle that you see in the bottle of oil or the ground up dried bits of truffle that you see in the salt are just there to make it look legitimate. Dried truffle, especially summer truffle, has the culinary value of sawdust.

That being said, if you like truffle oil or truffle salt go ahead and use it. If however you insist on thinking that you're using real truffle then I might suggest that you stay up on December 24th, bake cookies, pour a glass of cold milk and wait for Santa Claus.


Edited by JasonTrue (log)

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Sorry, You're dreaming. They do not extract the flavoring from real truffles, it's formulated in a lab. Ask a truffle hunter in France or Italy and they'll tell you the truth.

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I'm not sure how credible this is, but the recent Wall St. Journal article about "chefs' secrets" mentioned truffle salt as a superior alternative to truffle oil. They note how truffle oil is looked down upon in most culinary circles, but truffle salt is supposedly the "real deal." Again, I'm not sure how credible this is, but it adds some basis to Jason True's story.

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I'm being fairly realistic here; there's no "dreaming" about it. I'm not making grand promises or waxing poetic anywhere.

Placing aromatics together with salt is one of the common methods for extracting flavors, and as I said, it surely does not retain all of the volatile flavors, but it has its place.

I'm also painting the added "natural flavors" realistically. I'm by no means a fan of excessive use of "natural favorings" and tend to avoid most items which have added flavorings of any kind.

But I think it's irresponsible to paint this truffle salt as "fake." It is quite possible that the aromas are "reconstructed" from components of foods or plants other than raw truffles, and that would be a fair point, but it's also not necessarily "fake", as most flavor compounds are present in some quantity in other foods besides the one that they are closely associated with. However, there are truffle flavorings actually extracted from truffles.

As I said, the complaint of "lab created" flavors is not in an of itself a meaningful criticism. Not every laboratory is some sinister Frankenstein production facility; we use some of the same techniques at home to extract flavors from truffles.

Sorry, You're dreaming. They do not extract the flavoring from real truffles, it's formulated in a lab. Ask a truffle hunter in France or Italy and they'll tell you the truth.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Salt is used as a seasoning and to dry and preserve foods. It enhances our ability to taste but does not extract aromas from other foods. There are many kinds of seasoned salt, wet and dry, but they are just blends of seasonings that include lots of salt. As has been correctly noted in this thread earlier on, Summer truffles, tuber aestivum, have little taste resemblance to tuber melanosporum or tuber magnatum pico and are regarded by those who collect them as close to worthless. When dried they have a faint porcini like aroma and are incapable of giving a salt blend the truffle aroma without considerable assistance from a chemist. It is also unfortunate that they are referred to as black truffles which is misleading at best. If one has noble intentions, they should always be called what they are, summer truffles.

The single best vehicle for truffle flavor IMO is egg yolk. Fats; butter, cream and neutral oils are a close second.

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Sorry, You're dreaming. They do not extract the flavoring from real truffles, it's formulated in a lab. Ask a truffle hunter in France or Italy and they'll tell you the truth.

I'm curious to see your documentation. I can't find anything comprehensive on the web, but I'm happy to trot down to the library. And there is this , for what it is worth, that says truffle oil is a traditional product made with shavinges etc. that would otherwise be wasted.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Did some more googling and some calling around. Both the lady on the phone at Petrossian in NYC and the customer service representative I got on the line at Dean & DeLucs maintain that their oils are made with real truffle. Again, I don't consider this definitive, but it is relevant.

In looking over oils available on line, there some products that seem clearly to be chemicall assembled: "Truffle Flavored Oil" and Truffel Scented Oil." And the D&D CS rep said that their white truffle oil was "infused with truffle flavor " while the black was made with truffles. Could be a wording thing. On the other hand, other products were clearly implying that they were made with truffles.

Not that I'm obsessing...


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Ken is right in his posts.

I am yet to see or taste an oil or salt or whatever which was able to capture the aroma of Truffles.

Nevermind the above, but even truffles themselves come in different flavour and the same white truffle can be a gem or a whiff.

I had dinner last week at this Italian restaurant with a special Alba truffle promotion week. As I am a regular guest at their restaurant, I like to indulge in off-menu dishes. The first day we had a simple salad of Palmito/asparagus and endives with an oil/balsamic dressing to prep the papilles followed by a simple plate of tagliatelle sauce blanche with white truffle shavings. The portions are apparently 7 gms or 12 gms and weighed on a spanky digital scale on a special trolley in front of the diners. I think they went overboard with my serving and the taste was heavenly. Washed with a small Vermentino di Gallura.

On a following day and as I noticed that they are keeping the black and white truffles on a trolley under glass cover nestled on a bed of Arborio rice.

I requested the restaurant Mngr to have a risotto prepared from couple of handfulls of the rice from the truffles bed and he gracefully obliged.

So again a salad of artichokes/tomatoes/green beans with oil/balsamic followed by a Truffles risotto with truffles shavings. It was excellent and the only sad part is that the risotto was way too large portion to enable me finish. Washed with a Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

I have to mention that this particular restaurant has a knack for trolleys and even the blooming olive oils and balsamic vinegar have their own trolley with dozens of different olive oils and aged balsamic vinegar.

On the following day, I was invited to the Chef's table after closing hours and we sat there with the F&B Mngr, the Rest Mngr and the Chef for a feast of Truffles ranging from Omelettes to Ice cream!

Washed with a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and an Alto Adige.

It was OTT. but the point is that each truffle was different in flavour from one other.

As for truffle oil or salt. I think I'll pass and uh my gf does not like truffles. :cool:

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This version has a truffle in the bottle and appears to have lots of shavings floating around.

What say the mavens?

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Update - I had my second significant white truffle experience today. You all are definitely right on the aroma-no taste factor. In my opinion; the aroma is better than the taste!!


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Ken is right in his posts.

I am yet to see or taste an oil or salt or whatever which was able to capture the aroma of Truffles.

Different question. I don't think anyone's saying that the oil or salt is the same thing as a real live truffle. But, for those of us unable to afford the little bastards at $200/oz -- or using it to add a flavor note under the fresh truffle aroma, which is what I think TK uses it for -- it's nice stuff to have around.

My wife puts it on her pizza. :biggrin:

I'm just curious to see if I've been duped all these years.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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My knowledge of truffles comes from almost 30 years of experience cooking with them. In season, I can easily go through 4 or 5 pounds a week. Over the years, with lots of trial and my share of errors, I've learned how to get more and more satisfaction from truffles by being a purist and accepting that they are both powerful and delicate at the same time. Nicolai makes an excellent point. Those who really know truffles appreciate each one differently like bottles of fine wine. Open three bottles of fine mature wine and each may shine, but in it's own way. Some truffles are earthier, some more perfumey, many a well balanced combination, sometimes there's an almost "smokey roofing tar" note and there is inevitably the occasional total loser.

In addition to learning from endless practice in the kitchen, I know lots of people in the truffle business, both here in the States and in France and Italy. They are passionate, fascinating people with many generations in truffles who have generously shared their stories, advice and knowledge with me since the beginning. I still remember the first truffles I ever bought fresh as if it were last week.

The widespread of availability of commercial truffle oil happens to coincide with the succesful simulation of truffle flavor in the lab. Home made truffle oil has indeed been around for a long time as a good way to get some life out of little scraps. Personally I find that butter does a better job. At the end of every week during truffle season in my kitchen, we grind up the leftover bits in the food processor with butter, roll it in parchment and freeze it. White truffles do fine with strongly flavored olive oil, it fits their flavor profile well. Black truffles, and to me that's only true tuber melanosporum, do better with a more neutral flavored oil although I still prefer butter. Real "make it yourself without cheating" truffle butter and oil is delicious but very subtle, never stronger than the truffle it comes from. The oil in particular doens't have much shelf life. Not enough to be commercially viable and therein lies a problem. I've frozen butter perfectly sealed for a year and it still tastes pretty good, but oil is good at best for a few weeks before it loses so much flavor as to be meaningless. All of my friends in truffledom scoff at commercial truffle oil because they consider it a sham. They're of course totally spoiled with an endless supply of the real thing. They know that you can't beat real truffles. Do the math, you can't capture 1/2 pound of truffle flavor in an ounce of oil for 25 bucks unless you get a little help.

The flavor/aroma of black truffles is less pungent, sharp and vegetale. It's a more complex "sweet earthy"taste. It's ultimately more versatile in the kitchen too. I used to insist that black truffles were the best, my french kitchen roots I guess. But I've learned to appreciate white truffles just as much in their own right. They're both potentially great, just different like Barolo and Burgundy.

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My knowledge of truffles comes from almost 30 years of experience cooking with them. In season, I can easily go through 4 or 5 pounds a week.

Off Topic Alert

I am going to venture a guess as to which Ken you are. My wife and I enjoyed a terrific meal at your place a couple of weeks ago -- sandwiched between visits to the FL and Danko. Every aspect of the meal was wonderful, particlarly the Canneloni Head to Tail with Alba Truffle.

Michael


Edited by MichaelB (log)

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Well, I'm coming into this discussion late, and first and formost I want to apologize if the photos linked below, which I've posted before, are old stuff to some of you, but I thought they'd be worth sharing. I was in France, specifically in Alsace in December of 2002, which at that time was apparently the most abundant Black Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum) year they could ever remeber, and the restaurants were using truffles galore. And, they were the size of softballs! We had the Truffle Dinner twice in a week at the restaurant Le Cerf in Marlenheim, and on the second visit when we had the camera, the chef went quite overboard (which was perfectly okay with us) with the truffles.

Hope you enjoy and sorry to anybody who's seen these before...

Black Truffle Extravaganza


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Oh gawd, I've clicked on that link every time you post it and every time I've clicked, I've had to sit in a corner for 1/2 an hour quietly gibbering in seething jealousy ;).


PS: I am a guy.

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so - i'm dying to get my mouth around a nice truffle garnished/enhanced ravioli. i've got all the ingredients except the truffles themselves. while i could splurge for truffles - i was wondering as a less expensive substitute, if truffle butter or truffle salt or truffle oil would be best.

i see that upthread, there is a debate - and the clear consensus seems to be on truffle butter. what about truffle salt v. truffle oil? if i use truffle salt, do i actually use it to season the ravioli while cooking (ie. in the truffle filling and in the sauce) or as a garnish, or both?

any advice would be greatly appreciated!

u.e.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Any commercial truffle product you use will inevitably be artificially "enhanced" and you can probably acheive your goal with any of them. My preference for butter would be if it was homemade and pure. Be judicious so it doesn't get too strong and clumsy, taste as you go. I'd "perfume" both the filling and the sauce.

This year has been a terrific year for truffles, the fresh black ones from Norcia are still very very good although they will be disappearing soon. I served my last "all black truffle menu" for the year last night. We'll feature them in a dish or two for the next few weeks. It's the latest I've seen truffles this good in a long time.

Bon Appetit

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