April 10, 2008

Truffles!

Tonight I was lucky enough to take a cooking class at Byerly's on truffles. And I'm not talking about the chocolate kind.

I had never tasted, smelled or held truffles before, which is why we (my fiance and I) took the class. We thought it be a great opportunity to try this mysterious "mushroom" at an affordable price (you get to watch three recipe demonstrations over the course of an hour... and--this is key--EAT!). These chefs were sooo talented and used all around quality ingredients.

It was such an awesome opportunity to try something new and extravagant at an affordable price (the class is only $10 a person. They had a representative from Urbani Truffles who told us all about truffles. Here are some fun facts I learned from them:
  • There are different kinds of black truffles, (but for my purposes I'm not going to differentiate them) but there are also white truffles, which are said to be more aromatic.
  • Black truffles are currently about $700 a pound. Yup, you heard me right.
  • White truffles are currently about $6,000-7,000 per pound. CRAZY!
  • It's not possible to cultivate it, which is one reason it is so expensive.
  • You find truffles using dogs to sniff them out, because truffles grow a few centimeters underground. Pigs have also been used, but with less success. Pigs were so smart that they would end up eating the truffle... they have good taste.
  • Harvesting happens at night because the people gathering the truffles don't want others to know where they're finding this precious produce! Plus dogs have fewer distractions at night.
  • In a night, they'll only discover about 3 to 5 ounces.
  • A more round, less nubbier truffle is considered more desirable because there is less waste when cutting it up and it's more attractive.
Well, they say you either love or hate the flavor of truffles. I know which side I fall on. Tonight I had one of the best meals of my life! The flavors were so incredible and yet indescribable.

We had a Northern Bean and Truffle Soup to start, which had even, warm, smooth flavors. It had pancetta, escarole, white truffle oil and truffle shavings/julienne slices.

Then we had Sea Bass Poached in Truffle Broth which was perfectly prepared and delicious (this was also my first time with sea bass). The broth featured sage, fresh veggies and white truffle oil. Plus julienne cut truffles. I can't say enough about how good it was. The woody, earthy flavors of the truffles complemented the fish beautifully.

We finished with a rich, musky, earthy, flavorful Fettuccine with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffle Butter Sauce. This dish had a creamy flavor without any cream or milk in the recipe! The flavors melded perfectly. It was rich, and the truffle flavor shined.

I'm a changed woman.

It just goes to show, always try new and different foods. You never know what new favorite food you may discover. More truffles please! Well, I guess I have to wait for a special occasion. Really special at $700 a pound.

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