It turns out buying a fresh black Perigord truffle is a lot like a drug deal (are depending on what drugs you buy, possibly even more expensive). A secret syndicate, paying per gram and then finally meeting down a suburban alley way to divide the gear, each of us leaving with a little baggie. Back to the beginning; I got an email on Thursday morning from Wellington Foodies Queen-Bee Lucy Mutch offering me a place in a ‘Truffle Syndicate’ - I jumped and in under an hour the 273g truffle had been purchased, about 12 of us each buying a piece of the $1000 rarity.
How could I describe the aroma of fresh truffle? I know this is going to sound ott but it is a combination of mushroom, wet earth and sex. I showed it to a couple of friends and colleagues on Friday afternoon and it was amazingly divisive: people either baulked at the scent or shivered with delight.
Once cut, a truffle has a shelf life of about three days - although there are ways to extend its life - one of the most common is truffle oil but one can also make truffle butter. Because the truffle is extraordinarily aromatic you can also infuse this aroma into other food stuffs, a common way to do this is to store it with some eggs as their shells are porous and over a day or two they absorb the wonderful truffle aroma. Truffles are extremely rare and expensive and are an indulgence experienced (even if one can afford them) once in a very long time (world supply is about 20t a year). So, naturally the truffle must be the star - the best advice I have found about what goes with truffle was pretty simple: fat and starch. I chose to go for a recipe that I had not heard of until Friday but talking to others in the syndicate, and then doing a bit of internet research proved extremely popular. It is a very simple pasta in a cream sauce, topped with truffle infused fried eggs (forraged at biodynamic Martinborough vineyard Cambridge Road) and Parmigiano Reggiano by Sydney restaurant Buon Ricordo. I didn’t have enough time to infuse the eggs so made the same dish and liberally doused the sauce with shaved truffle, finishing the dish with the self-same truffle. There are recipes on the amazing Not Quite Nigella and Trissalicious but I went for an online MSN/Woman’s Weekly recipe penned by the chef Armando Percuoco himself. You make the sauce and pasta, combine and then top with fried eggs. Once served you chop the whites and yolk into the sauce.
I should have infused the truffle into the egg to make the most out of it, but otherwise it was delicious. The truffle added a most otherworldly depth, richness and sensuality to the dish.