(with thanks to Melvin Orange for the title of this post)
Today I was lucky enough to lunch with the local Los Angeles rep from Sabatino Tartufi, one of the U.S.'s biggest importers and producers of truffles and truffle products. The truffles above spent the morning in a cooler in the trunk of his car, which is where I caught up with them. They spent the afternoon being handed over to chefs at great restaurants all around Los Angeles, or at least that was the plan when we parted.
The Sabatino guy is to me what the dealer is to the heroin addict: He feeds my habit, and it really gives him a thrill to be able to do so. Specifically, my ever-intensifying truffle habit. Remember the pound of black summer truffles I got over the summer? Sabatino's. The truffle oil in my pantry? Sabatino's, too. And today Sabatino was nice enough to shower me with gifts: a jar of truffle honey, and samples of truffle slices, truffle crema, truffle salt, and truffle popcorn.
I should take the Sabatino guy to lunch more often.
Actually, I learned a lot today about the different kinds of truffles, particularly how to tell whether a truffle product uses the real thing (Italian or French), or is cut with impostor Chinese truffle shavings. The giveaway: price. If you think "Hey, what a bargain!" it's Chinese. The real thing comes with a real price tag. But I smelled those babies in the white bag above. They're worth it.
We also talked about truffles' affinity for white food: rice, pasta, cream, cheese, eggs. And how Oregon white truffles, while nice in their own way, aren't a substitute for the Italians.
And how Italian and Jewish mothers are cut from the same cloth: Both of our mothers a) hate that we've moved so far from home, b) seem satisfied with (a) as long as we're happy, and c) called while we were at lunch.
I've decided that one of my primary goals as a food blogger is to introduce home cooks around the world to the simple elegance of the truffle. As my husband put it: "Anyone who's willing to spend $500 on wine for a dinner party should spend $300 on truffles instead." Which is why I can't seem to stop writing truffle recipes. I'll leave you with a list of the ones already in my repertoire - more to come, I'm sure.
- Emery's salad with truffle oil and bacon
- Truffled deviled eggs
- Frisee and endive salad with truffle vinaigrette
- Pasta with black truffle sauce
- Crostini with ricotta, thyme, honey and truffle
- Potato chips with fontina and truffle
- Tartines with radishes and truffle butter
- Photos from my nine-course truffle dinner