Bryan G. Newman
The truffle season
Périgord truffles will be on the menu when added fresh, as shavings to enhance a dish, or cooked as part the main flavor enhancer of a whole dish. Fresh black Perigord truffles are available from the end of November to mid-March; however, truffles have a short shelf life and any that are not used in a short time will become truffle oil or truffle essence. For more on truffle oil and truffle essence see the end of this post.
The black truffle of Périgord has many French names: the Truffe de Périgord, Truffe Noire, Truffe Périgourdine, Truffe du Vaucluse, Truffe du Tricastin, Truffe de Bonneville and the Truffe Vraie. (German - schwarze trüffle, echte trüffel, Französische trüffel or perigord trüffel), (Italian- tartufo nero or nero pregiato), (Spanish - trufa de Périgord or trufa negra), (Latin - tuber melanosporum).
Carpaccio de Bœuf Juste Mariné à la Truffe Noire du Périgord - A beef Carpaccio marinated with the black Perigord truffle; truffle oil will have been used here. For more about the Carpaccio see the post: What is a Carpaccio? How to Order a Carpaccio in France.
Consommé à la Râpée de Truffe du Périgord - A consommé flavored with shavings from the black Perigord truffle. The consommé soup used here will, like all traditional consommés be a clear soup; and here it is almost certainly made with a veal stock that is then flavored with the truffle.
Glace à la Truffe Noire - Ice cream flavored with the Perigord truffle; this is a rarely seen dessert; for me, when I next see this on a French menu it will be a rare opportunity.
La Crème Brulée a la Truffe Noire de Perigord - Crème Brulee flavored with the Black Perigord truffle. For more about Crème Brulée and how it became accepted as a French creation see the post: Crème Brulée. Who Created Crème Brulée.
La Demi Langouste en Salade, Huile de Truffe du Périgord - Half a rock-lobster, that’s the owner of the lobster tail; here it is flavored with Perigord truffle oil. There is more about truffle oil and how it is made at the end of this post.
Le Risotto Carnaroli à la Truffe Fraîche du Périgord, Copeaux de Parmesan. A carnaroli rice risotto made with the black truffle of Perigord and served with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Carnaroli rice may not be well known, but amongst Italian and French chefs it is indisputably the best, and also the most expensive, rice for risotto. Carnaroli rice comes from the same area of Piedmont Italy that the more well known, and less expensive, Arborio and Baldo risotto rice come from.
Photograph courtesy of ulterior epicure.
The Truffe du Tricastin –The Tricastin truffle; again the same truffle as the Truffe Noir de Périgord. Here in the village of Grignan, and three other villages close by, between Lyon and Avignon, in the département of Drome, the Rhône-Alpes, Provence, they have truffle markets on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings, from mid-November to mid-March; the markets alternate among villages and the French Government Tourist Office will advise you which village is next in line.
Truffe du Vaucluse – Another name for the black Périgord truffle. Vaucluse by using the name of their département they are trying to make sure that everyone knows the source. Vaucluse is a département in the région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. Already at the end of the 18th century the region was well known an excellent place to find the black Périgord truffle.
When you buy commercially prepared truffle oil it is unlikely that the amount of truffles used is anywhere near the amount of truffle a chef would use in his or her home made product. Look carefully at the label and like truffle essences do not buy products that note they are made with truffle flavor; that is not the real thing.
Truffles are a fungi, a subterranean tuber, and while truffles are also members of the mushroom family, they truffles are not mushrooms. Attempts at truffle cultivation are still not supplying many truffles to the market; I have heard rumors of success that come from Spain, however, at the moment that is all I know, rumors.
Also on the menu:
Truffes (en saison) (Les) – Truffles in season.
Truffes Selon Caprices du Temps – Truffles are available according to the quirks of the market! This will be on many menus in areas famous for their truffles.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu.
Copyright 2010, 2013