What is it like to eat the most ex­pen­sive food in the world?

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

THE MYS­TI­CAL POWER of the truf­fle is de­fined by its scarcity, its amaz­ing aroma, and for the mag­i­cal prop­er­ties it be­stows on other foods.

When you ask truf­fle peo­ple about the smell, it can be very hard for them to put it into words.

“A good Périg­ord truf­fle, it’s an earthy, sweet aroma, you want the sweet, and it should last,” says Jax Lee, be­fore she gives up search­ing for the right ad­jec­tives. “Ta­nia is a much bet­ter per­son to ask!”

“Old socks and sex!” laughs for­mer chef and now truf­fle grower Ta­nia Billingsley. “I have no idea who termed this but it’s one of the best de­scrip­tions of truf­fles I’ve ever heard!

It turns out Ta­nia’s favourite de­scrip­tion comes from NZ au­thor and truf­fle grower Gareth Renow­den of Lime­stone Hills. In The Truf­fle Book (2005), he writes:

“Re­fresh your mem­ory of the smell of un­washed socks – not a teenager’s su­per-ripe school sock at the end of the week but an adult’s of a day or two’s wear (wool and ny­lon mix­ture). Leave your armpits un-de­odorised for a few hours on a warm day. Open the spice cup­board and take a deep sniff. Crush an un­peeled clove of gar­lic. Find some damp leaves and dig your fin­gers into the earth un­derneath (oak leaves are best). Then for go for some­thing flo­ral – lilies for pen­e­tra­tion, roses for sweet­ness.” Then there is the ef­fect it has on food, as Gareth ex­plains in his book.

“A steak with truf­fle sauce be­comes more meaty, eggs are trans­formed into a gourmet item, and ev­ery as­pect of the meal be­comes more sat­is­fy­ing.”

Most types of truf­fle are added as a fi­nal flour­ish and you don’t need a lot says Ta­nia.

“You wouldn’t sit down and eat one on its own, for a serv­ing you might only have 10g or 20g.

“Périg­ord is shaved on at the end (of cook­ing) and it’s divine. Some of the tra­di­tional things are to serve truf­fle on scram­bled eggs, shave it over pasta, it’s beau­ti­ful shaved over a really nice eye fil­let steak, truf­fle mashed potato… a lot of restau­rants when they get it will take shav­ings of truf­fle, split a wheel of brie and put the truf­fle in the brie and leave it for two or three days.

“When I’ve got fresh truf­fle, I nor­mally store it in the fridge with eggs and the eggs taste like truf­fle.

“My favourite, my most amaz­ing recipe, was truf­fle pizza and it was to die for, it was just a plain dough with a white wine and

cream re­duced sort-of sauce, and then you shave truf­fle on top once you cook the pizza.

“The other thing it goes really well with is cau­li­flower... a small ramekin of a creamy, pureed cau­li­flower soup with parme­san and truf­fle shaved on the top.”

You might think you’re get­ting the flavour of it if you use truf­fle oil, but there’s no com­par­i­son be­tween that and real truf­fle says Ta­nia.

“If you ever get the chance to have a real truf­fle… it’s just spec­tac­u­lar.”

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