Truffles are an incredibly expensive variety of earthy, knobby, firm fungus with a distinct, assertive flavor profile and are recognized as both a epicurean luxury (at more than $60/oz) and an aphrodiasic. One scientific and decidedly unromantic tidbit concerning the allure of truffles is that they contain a a chemical derivative of the androstenol pheremone, which is a sex pheremone in pigs (particularly in male boar saliva) and is also present in human sweat glands to a smaller degree.
Female boars are traditionally used to hunt for truffles because of their instinctual affinity to the scent. Humans may be similarily affected, albeit more subtly; I’ve noticed that more females (myself included) than men seem to be enamoured with truffles, which leads me to wonder if there is a masculine-referenced trigger evoked by them.
Regardless of their scientific background, truffles are established as haute cuisine. Luxurious and trendy in today’s restaurant scene, they appear in various forms across the food spectum, from french fries to foie gras.
One word of wisdom to keep in mind is that not all truffle products are equal.. or even authentic. Truffle oils often get their flavor from synthetic chemicals that have a strong flavor profile similar to truffles. The cheaper it is, the more likely it’s not the real deal. So then, how can truffles best be enjoyed in a manner that is fulfilling, authentic and pampering – but not entrenched in the three-digit range?
My favorite “everyday” truffle indulgence is Sabatino Truffle Salt. This fine-grained salt peppered with dried truffle flakes is the ultimate way to embellish a finished dish, particularly one with a creamy, delicate texture that allows the punch of truffle flavor to aggressively seduce your tastebuds (… trying to keep my writing PG).
Hubert Keller recently published a lovely, heart-warming recipe collection called Souvenirs: Stories and Recipes from My Life – a memoir of French recipes spanning from his Alsace childhood to his much-awarded (Michelin, among others) restaurant empire. I’m inspired by each recipe, which run the effort gamut from a few minutes to a full-day commitment. I was immediately captivated with his ultra-simple recipe of a soft-cooked egg with buttered bread batons and truffle salt on the side. It involves simply a pot of water, a timer, and raw eggs. In less than ten minutes, you have a silky egg white custard cradling a pool of warm, luscious egg yolk. Paired with buttery-crisp airy bread sticks and a generous pinch of truffle salt, you have a magical gourmet breakfast treat.
I found that Japanese sake cups are just the right size to support a large egg. And they are beautiful to look at!
If you’re looking to cut down on fat, the bread batons are just as tasty when toasted without butter. In fact, their ‘bread’ flavor seems a bit more enhanced. I think any of Trader Joe’s Italian-based breads are wonderful.
[ Fun food presentation tool: the egg topper ]
I’ll let you into a little secret about how to create create perfectly-round egg openings: an egg topper! It takes a little practice to use successfully, but it’s far superior to cracking around the shell with a knife or spoon, which generally requires picking at residual eggshell fragments. When cracking the egg, I cradle the egg in the palm of my hand to soften the impact of the topper plunger cracking the egg.
Toast coated in soft-cooked truffled egg is my new breakfast favorite, and I’m sure it may become one of yours! Let me know if you try it~