Truffles – diamonds from the earth
Delicate shavings of deliciously earthy and smoky fresh truffles feature in our special – “Pasta al Tartufo.” Here, we unearth facts about these “jewels of the earth.”
Unearthing the truffle
Truffles, are subterraneous fungi that grow in the forest. There are three types, white, black and burgundy. White truffles are known for their pungent flavour and grow from October to December in northern Italy and are also called Piedmont truffles. White truffles, can’t be cooked, but instead can be sliced thinly over a finished dish. Black truffles have an earthy and robust flavour, and grow in France, Italy and Spain, they are often called Winter truffles since they are in season from December until March. Did you know that heating up your Winter truffles before using them releases their delicious aroma? Finally, there are burgundy or Autumn truffles, the more delicate of the three, which grow throughout Europe. If there are Autumn and Winter truffels there must be Summer truffles as well. This type of truffle celebrates its season from May to November and grows in Italy.
An ancient mystery
Did you know that the ancient Romans thought that truffles only grew in places that had been struck by lightning? It’s easy to see why, truffles seemingly spring up out of nowhere and grow in a truly mesmerising way, growing only with certain host trees and interlinking with the tree’s roots.
Traditionally “truffle pigs” used to go out and find truffles, this is because female pigs were really good at sniffing them out because they smell like testosterone! There was just one problem, they also loved eating them and wouldn’t give them back! Today, truffle pigs are banned, but dogs have taken their place, since they’re happier to give the truffles up for a treat instead.
One of the world’s most expensive ingredients
“Diamonds of the kitchen” is how Italians describe truffles because Italian white truffles are among the world’s most expensive ingredients. This is because they’re near impossible to farm, are notoriously difficult to transport, have short seasons and require optimal conditions to thrive.
But, that hasn’t stopped the world falling in love with them! If you can’t get fresh truffles, why not look for truffle butters or truffle salt, both are fantastic for adding that note of sophistication to pizza and pasta dishes! By the way: If you don’t want to eat this exquisite ingredient right away you need to store it properly. Black truffles stay fresher for longer than the white ones. Ideally, truffles should be stored in your fridge at about two degrees in an airtight container and be wrapped in kitchen paper.
Or, better yet, come in before the middle of January to try our special “Pasta al Tartufo,” which boasts fresh truffle slices!