The truffle butty
At a truffle festival, run by the US arm of Paul’s company in California’s Napa Valley, he was introduced to what’s now his favourite truffle dish by top chef Ken Frank. ‘He kept telling me you have to try the truffle sandwich. I did. It is so intense it’s ridiculous,’ says Paul. Take two pieces of topquality white bread like ciabatta, spread one side of each with good butter and fill the sandwich with sliced truffle. Squash it gently but firmly and leave it wrapped or boxed in the fridge for about 20 hours, then fry it both sides in more butter, and eat at once. niche. A hectare needs about 1,500 and a normal orchard is maybe 1,600 trees. We have more than 30 orchards around the country now, including some in Lancashire. But we need more.’
It’s a highly technical business. Spores are processed in their laboratory on the Isle of Bute, but the trees are raised and inoculated in Lancashire. To keep flavourless interlopers like the Chinese truffle out, the seed truffles are all Dnatested to make sure they’re the desired native summer truffle
‘Paul recommends the springer spaniel as ideal, though he knows of corgis, labradors and even chihuahuas being trained to find truffles’
(in fact native to 26 countries across Europe, and known in France as the Burgundy truffle) or the Perigord truffle, and the greenhouse and all their equipment kept scrupulously clean by the carefully trained team of experts.
Inoculation is only the start of the tricky process, which is why Paul’s preferred business model is a 70/30 partnership with the orchard owners, his staff providing consultancy to maximise the yield of aromatic fungi.