05 December 2006

White truffles - mystery and revelation

When you regularly walk past boards advertising white truffles at £2000 a kilo, it is easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. Sometimes in Booth's at borough market they let us sniff the jar they keep them in. The other day, I saw a chap buying a small one for £15, and realised that it was possible to afford to try them.
When we were looking, the smallest was £25's worth, so that was what we bought. He said it would serve four. It seemed like a good idea to buy some fresh egg taglietelle to go with it.
Then we got home.
All our cook books think it is too fancy a topic to cover. There are no details on what to do with a truffle, how to store it, how to clean it, and hardly any recipes. There were a lot of little holes in the truffle, with fine sand and grit in. I tried using a toothbrush on its own, but resorted to water assistance. Straight after this, Hungerpang found an exhortation on the internet to avoid contaminating truffles with water.
I found only one recipe, which added merely butter, parmesan and grated nutmeg to the pasta, and grated the truffle over the top. This is easier said than done - it was quite brittle, and we ended up with chunks and fragments everywhere.
The result was pretty spectacular. Very pungent, a powerful gastronomic experience, but not necessarily the most pleasant in the world.
That used up only half of it. I had most of the rest for lunch today following the same recipe, discovering that a pototo peeler is an excellent tool for grating truffles with!

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