Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What do Oregon truffles smell like?

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Olive oil, a pinch of salt and grated Oregon black truffles: Your bread will never be happier
We interrupt Superfoods Month to bring you some exciting news: It's Oregon truffle season again.

As you can imagine, this truffle-obsessed blogger is quite happy when she rides her bike to the Santa Monica farmers market and spots the telltale picnic coolers on the wild mushroom guy's table. Inside each cooler is an ice pack on top of a tea towel; inside the towel are a few hundred fragrant, marble-sized black or white Oregon truffles.

At $20 per ounce, Oregon truffles are an affordable luxury. The white truffles (called white, actually brown) sell out first, so I go early. I like both white and black and pick up a few nuggets of each. Pasta, risotto, scrambled eggs, salad, or just bread and butter - truffles add a new dimension to the simplest foods.

We sampled the Oregon white truffles both on their own and mixed with olive oil
Biologically, Oregon truffles (Tuber oregonense and Tuber gibbosum) are kissing cousins to the European truffles. They're similar but not the same. I tried to describe the smell and taste of Oregon truffles for you, but I found myself at a loss for words.

Which is why I invited Arianna Armstrong, wine writer extraordinaire and owner of a true "super palate," to come over this weekend and experience Oregon truffles with me. I'm neither a super smeller nor a super taster. She's both. We sniffed and sniffed, then sampled both kinds of truffles on their own and grated into olive oil.
Wine writer and "super smeller" Arianna Armstrong with an Oregon white truffle

I got some excellent video of our smelling and tasting session. As soon as I figure out how to edit video, you'll see it here. Meantime, here are a few tasting notes:
  • alcohol
  • pine
  • wet leaves
  • river water
  • manure
  • pears
We also discussed the possibility that given their pheromonal effect, truffles smell like "the essence of a woman." Possibly a woman who doesn't bathe very often.

I just realized the tasting notes above don't do these truffles justice. You'll just have to trust me. They're magical.


Marnely Rodriguez-Murray said...

I need to get my hands on Oregon truffles ASAP! I've never even tried them... Thanks for the fun post!

Rhonda said...

I've been very curious about Oregon truffles and I especially like the idea of buy American. As you know, I'm a big truffle fan and eager to try these.

David said...

I mentioned on Google+ I was getting ready to use fresh truffles (from Italy) for the first time, and someone suggested I check out your blog...I can see why with all these great posts about them. I'll be stopping back as I plan...

Erika Kerekes said...

Oh David, you are so lucky! I hope you've found some truffle recipes you like. Where did you get the truffles?

Chickenofthewoods said...

If you find yourself in the market for Oregon Truffles, do all you can to find a source for the dog-harvested ones... the raked truffles you find on the market pale in comparison to the naturally ripened truffles a dog finds - and there is no rake involved!

Erika Kerekes said...

@Chicken - you are so, so right!

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