Truffles are highly regarded as one of the most expensive culinary ingredients in the world. It’s what many would call a ‘diamond in the kitchen’ and a true gem of the earth for the unique way it is grown and cultivated. Do not mistake these for the truffle chocolates you find at shops. This fantastic fungi lives underground and to grow it involves incredible effort and a team of experts from start to finish. However, why are truffles considered precious? We delve deep into the mystery behind this pungent mushroom that has captivated award-winning chefs and gourmands all over the world.
What You Need to Know About Truffles
- What exactly is a truffle? It’s the fruiting body of a subterranean ascomycete fungus, predominantly one of the many species of the genus, tuber.
- The first mention of truffles appears in the inscriptions of the neo-Sumerians an ancient civilization. It was, however, during the Renaissance period that truffles attained popularity in Europe and was revered in the court of King Francis I of France.
- The production of truffles requires hot summer and cold winter temperatures and the contrast of climate is probably one of the crucial reasons for its rarity. However, there are now truffle-growing areas in the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Italy, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and South Africa.
- The black truffle or black Périgord truffle is the second-most commercially valuable species. It is associated with oaks, hazelnut, cherry, and other deciduous trees and is harvested in late autumn and winter.
- The white truffle is known more prominently as the ‘Truffle of the White Madonna’ in Italy. It is found mainly in the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti.
- White truffle season usually ranges between mid-September to December or January and black truffle (Périgord truffle) season is usually between December and March. As these truffles are seasonal, some restaurants such as 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana that uses only fresh, seasonal ingredients will change up their menu to ensure that the truffles used are the freshest possible.
- Truffles are subterranean meaning they exist below the surface of the earth. To be able to locate these special living organisms requires the assistance of an animal possessing a refined sense of smell. Trained dogs are often used for this stage of harvesting but did you know that pigs were also previously used? However, dogs proved to better explorers because they do not have a strong desire to devour the truffles!
- Truffles are used delicately as thin slices into specific dishes. Many restaurants shave it to make the most of the valuable ingredient. Truffles are expensive because they grow slowly which makes it a complicated and tedious procedure to farm them. Many factors are taken into accounts such as soil, temperature, irrigation, and more. Its high value and underground origin make it a true treasure
Why Truffles Are Well-Loved
Truffles are nutritious and flavorful. It contains protein, vitamins and various nutrients including calcium and zinc. This special ingredient has a remarkable content of antioxidants comparable to raspberries, red wine, and even garlic! Its nutritional values are surprisingly even higher than apples, broccoli, figs, and strawberries.
The truffle tastes like a kaleidoscope of savory notes. The musky, earthy odor is something you won’t find enticing, to be honest, but the taste exceeds all senses. It’s perceived to have a complex flavor profile with the goodness of mushrooms and a hint of addictive full-flavor that sets it apart from the other ingredients on your plate. The truffle stands out while not overshadowing dishes such as pasta, risotto, meat or seafood. They’re best served simply, just shaved over your dish of choice, and a little bit goes a long way.
Where to Find Your Truffle Fix in Macau
There’s one place in Macau that will appease any kind of truffle cravings. The legendary Chef Umberto Bombana is vocal about his fascination with what he calls the ‘diamonds of the kitchen’ and his mastery of truffles will take your breath away with every carefully crafted dish. He uses top-quality Australian winter truffles and pairs them with seasonal summer ingredients, harmoniously complementing each other’s fragrance and complexity in a perfect union. The one-star Michelin restaurant excels in Italian cuisine and attentive service. Not only is it an elegant dining space, but every creation from their kitchen is sure to captivate their guests’ senses.
Patience and perseverance are attributes needed for growers of the prized truffle. Australian growers practice discipline and dedication to provide an ample amount of these rare gems to the region. For more details, visit www.facebook.com/australiantrufflehunters