If you don’t know already, it’s black truffle season. What? What’s that? You can’t afford them? You refuse to pay $500/ounce for these bad boys?
I don’t blame you. I won’t pay that much for anything unless it’s going to save my frakking life. (Or my wife’s life, but don’t tell her. She’ll get a big head.)
So, where did I get these black beauties? No, I didn’t fly to France and take my snout for a walk in the woods. No, I didn’t waylay Gordon Ramsay on his way home from work. No, there isn’t some guy in a Pioneer Square alley with a trenchcoat and a gruff voice who says “Psst. Buddy. Looking for some fungi?” (Okay, maybe there is a guy like that, but (a) I haven’t met him and (b) he’s probably selling a different kind of mushroom.)
No, I found Oregon Mushrooms, a small(ish) but respected purveyor of mushrooms for over a decade. And they grow black truffles. Yep. Real black truffles. White ones, too (more about those after the jump).
Expensive? Well, yes, but at $20/ounce, it’s not impossible, at least not for a once-a-year treat.
I ordered two ounces of the fresh black truffles, and three ounces of the frozen white truffles. I’d had black truffles before (Oregonian, not French), but they were small, sad, shriveled things that smelled of dirt but had a hint of wonderful hiding within. Intrigued, I set about looking for truffles–fresh truffles–and I found Oregon Mushrooms last year when, alas, black truffles were out of season.
But last week, I checked again, and (cue the choir) they were back. I entered my order and two days later there was a knock on my door.
Let me put it this way–and I say this without any exaggeration whatsoever: I could smell them as soon as I opened the door. Seriously. Through the box, the wrapping, the cold, the rain, that hint of wonderful was now a symphony of perfume. An aroma of apples, anise, wild mushrooms, cheese, and (yes) dirt surrounded me. The FedEx guy was oblivious–probably inured to it from having it in the truck for the hour-long drive from the dispatch center–but it hit me like a velvet wave.
It’s a decadent thing, breakfast for dinner. It implies that you’ve just awoken after a full night’s debauch, bleary-eyed and staggered. In this case, however, it was a necessity brought on by circumstance. Eggs scrambled (French style) over toasted pugliese and topped with what in Europe would be an obscene amount of wafer-sliced black truffles. The scent of truffles filled the kitchen, complimented by the warm comforting scent of toasted bread, their sweet flavor bolstered by creamy eggs and countered by the easy sharpness of arugula on the side. Bloody brilliant, it was.
Now, as to the white truffles. I’d never had them before and even taking into account the fact that these were frozen, not fresh, I’d have to say that they’re not really in the same class as the blacks. White truffles tasted like wild mushrooms–admittedly, strongly and confidently of wild mushrooms–but only of wild mushrooms. There was none of the complex brocade of scents and flavors that the black truffles carry, fresh or frozen. So, white truffles, a disappointment.
Also on the lists at Oregon Mushrooms are burgundy truffles, of which I’d never even heard before. They’re out of season, and not to be had in frozen form, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for them. I’ve set aside a few shekels for their appearance…provided of course that I don’t spend it all on more of these beautiful black truffles!