Diamonds. They’re rare and sparkly and very expensive. A status symbol like no other. We’ve all heard the cliches about diamonds.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are forever. Diamonds in the rough.
But as elegant and stylish as diamonds are, we tend not to associate them with food. Trying to eat a diamond al dente is guaranteed to be bad for your teeth. But when top chefs, foodies and pretentious bankers the world over refer to something as “the diamonds of the kitchen”, you know they mean business. And here at Limoncello, we specialise in bringing these diamonds to your palates in a myriad of different ways. Or, as we prefer to call them…
The comparison with diamonds is apt. Truffles are rare, expensive and used to elevate a plain dish into something outrageously delightful. They are so full of flavour and bursting with aroma that only a bare few shaved slivers of truffle is all it takes. And, like diamonds, they have achieved an iconic status far beyond their intrinsic value.
But what actually are truffles? And where do they come from?
Simplest way to think about truffles is to consider them a cousin of mushrooms. They’re also fungi. And like mushrooms they are the fruiting body of fungi living under the surface. But while mushrooms poke out onto the surface of the ground, or log or whatever they’re growing on, truffles remain underground. Associated with the roots of certain trees.
This makes them far more difficult to locate and harvest. Usually requiring specially trained sniffers like dogs or truffle pigs to ferret them out of their subterranean lairs. It also means that commercially farming truffles is extremely difficult. Requiring instead the old hunter-gatherer approach we mostly abandoned millennia ago.
Truffles can be found all across Europe, and have influenced regional cuisines for centuries. Eight truffle varieties are native to Italy, including the famous white truffle.
Fresh is Best
But for truffles, just like all other great superheroes, their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. What makes them so special and exceptional in Italian cuisine is the depth and intensity of their flavour and aroma. Without that, they are mere mortal mushrooms. And unfortunately, truffles can lose their superpowers of tastiness very easily.
Too much exposure to heat, light and air cause truffles to rapidly lose their flavour. Which is a serious problem since the places we humans live in tend to have plenty of heat, light and air. And even with the best of conditions, a fresh truffle may only last a couple of weeks before its magic has faded.
What to do about this? Well, at Limoncello we believe there are two solutions.
The first is to treat fresh truffles like a seasonal luxury. Not a standardised commodity. As different varieties of Italian truffles come into season we use them as seasonal treats in our bistro menu. So you’ll want to drop into Limoncello regularly to see what we’ve come up with this month.
The other is to capture the essence of this intense truffle flavour into another product with a significantly longer shelf life. So you can enjoy it whenever you choose. At Limoncello we’ve gone a little truffle mad, stocking dozens of truffle products including: truffle oil; truffle honey; truffle crisps; truffle paté and many more.
So next time you get that craving, come on down to Limoncello and get your truffle on!
Credit: Thomas Farley