Saturday, January 31, 2009

Black Gold

As soon as I unlocked the front door to the restaurant this morning, I was greeted by the most remarkable and very welcome scent of black truffles. We put a couple pounds of truffles in the cooler late last night and they donated their inimitable fragrance to the restaurant.

The photo to the right shows a bowl of black truffles (Tuber melanosporum). I have no idea what we are going to do with them yet (tonight's Chef's Table will see some). Because of their pungency and price (you're looking at several hundred dollars worth), we use them very sparingly.

Many chefs shave them wantonly over all kinds of dishes in a kind of more-is-better, gilding-the-lily (the Bard actually wrote "paint the lily," but this is a food blog, not an English blog) approach, but I have always felt that truffles require a neutral foil to bring out their best qualities.

For me, truffles do not get any better than when showcased on top of a risotto, a warm potato salad, or on an omelette or scrambled eggs. Chicken serves the same neutral role when served en demi-deuil (in half mourning), with truffles under the breast skin. And scallops can do the same when prepared in black tie à la Daniel Boulud.

What I will do with my truffles, only time will tell. If you'd like to sample some, call me and let's do it.

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