Sooner and later, most likely, in the next three years when you order a truffle dish in the United States – the famous Périgord truffle dish from “black diamond”, which now requires bringing your truffles from Italy – the truffles will be locally grown and harvested.
Truffle starters at the third annual opening of the Napa Truffle festival.
“I’ve been cooking with truffles since 1981,” said Michelin chef Ken Frank – chef and owner of La Toque from 2008. In Westin Verasa in downtown Napa, at the opening of the third annual Napa Truffle festival (January 18) – 21, 2013) who started yesterday evening tasting wine and truffles in his restaurant.
His “black diamonds” for the opening were imported from Italy. But in two to three years he expected to use locals that are now grown in the Napa Valley.
“Think of truffles as underground mushrooms that attach to the roots of the host plant,” said Robert Chang, managing director of the American Truffle Company (ATC), at a crowded opening party attended by top Michelin chefs, scientists, and experts truffles, be truffle breeders, current breeders, gourmets who came from all over the country to take part in them and truffle fans.
Everyone is there to learn more and experience the delights that many consider to be culinary treasures. During the weekend, these truffles were discussed, examined, tested, prepared, demonstrated, combined with wine and feasted.
Chang and Dr. Paul Thomas, ATC’s partner and chief scientist, were to lead the scientific path of growing truffles. “We’ve created a network of truffle breeding partners in 23 countries – as far north as Finland and as far south as South Africa,” said Thomas, who is based in the UK and has control over what is happening in different countries via the Internet and in person.
As there are many types of mushrooms, Chang said, there are many types of truffles. ATC worked exclusively with the black (European) Périgord truffle (known as the “black diamond”) – he said that it is the most expensive food in the world.
ATC focuses on providing partners with scientific know-how and support in growing these super commercially truffles.
“Many people have tried to grow them, but they have failed because they think they will plant several trees, wait five years, hope for the best and see what will happen.
“But hope is not a strategy,” Chang said. “Science provides the highest revenues.”
English oak and hazelnut are trees usually chosen for inoculation with truffle spores. As part of the partnership between ATC and growers, the orchard owner provides land and resources, and harvests. ATC provides learning, support and support.
“Truffles are much easier to harvest than grapes,” said Chang. “You need dogs to help you sniff them, not people.”
The weekend festival was to include the presentation of truffle dogs and mushroom feeding, as well as many other activities and between the occasions to drink truffles prepared by the best chefs at various places and meals.
The Monday 21 January program includes a truffle market and wine tasting, including truffle ice cream, at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market.
Quoting William Makepeace Thackeray: “… we were aware of the smell … approaching us … musky, fiery, spicy, mysterious … truffles were coming.” He was talking about white truffles that have what I think skunky, bland aroma / taste. They cannot be cooked, but they can be good for salads and, for example, grated on a hot dish to release flavor and aroma.
Black, focused on the Napa Valley truffle festival, is more discreet in terms of aroma; more delightful to many people; and more expensive. Black can be cooked or eaten raw.
During the premiere of the truffle festival, we plucked a duck roulade with truffle chips, foie gras with truffle chips (foie gras was banned in California, but, as our waiter said, not when not sold) and small pasta cakes with truffles. We had tastings, including Beringer, Silver Oak, Vice Versa, Grgich Hills and Olivia Brion.
I asked Chef Frank what happened to the truffle oil I saw for sale all over this place, and cheap, including Trader Joe’s, about three years ago, which now seems to be disappearing from the shelves.
“Truffle oil is fake [most are chemically improved],” said Frank, who opened his original La Toque at the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1979. He was based at the Rancho Caymus Inn when he first moved to Napa Valley.
Truffles used during the Napa Truffle 2013 were imported from Italy. He expected to use locally grown truffles two years later, given that truffle spores need five years to grow
See more on the Napa Truffle Festival.