Truffles for Breakfast

I inhaled, I cooked, I thrilled, I screwed up

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By David Hammond

One of the major advantages of food writing is that people send you stuff to try out in the kitchen and eat. Yesterday afternoon, I received a bag of truffles from Western Australia's The Wine & Truffle Company (Ding-ding).

I opened the vac-sealed bag this morning, took out two of the half-dozen little bastids, and vac-sealed the rest (I plan to freeze them, which I'm told does them no harm  – and there's no way I can eat all of these while The Wife is out of town).

At a recent dinner at Grace, we had truffle on a bunch of dishes, but the creation that stood out most prominently, the one that maximized the truffle-ness, was a the one I posted about almost immediately on FB : "Rarely does a truffle dish deliver such deep and powerful truffle flavor: a crème caramel with scallion, chive blossom, and, of course, a generous helping of the black diamond."

I've decided that razoring truffle over pasta, though I'd never turn down the resulting dish, is maybe not the best way to extract and diffuse the precious flavor. I decided to prepare them in eggs.

I don't have a precise scale in my kitchen, so I don't know how much my bulbous friend weighed or how much I cut, but using the sharpest blade I could find, I slivered maybe a tablespoon of truffle off the chunk.

The freshness of these truffles was intriguing. I've bought truffles before, but now I know that those were old ones: they were dry and lifeless.

These were full of life, almost moist inside, but very hard, with a chalky, cake-like density to the meat; it was crumbly, kind of like good chocolate, and like some chocolate, very black, with white pinpoints (kind of like a starry night, I might say, but I already feel my prose is maybe already tottering on the purple precipice).

I spent a minute just inhaling the fungi: the aroma was deep and yet very fresh. I think I got a little dizzy. I sat down. Then I continued making breakfast.

This morning, it was just eggs and truffles. I cooked the eggs very slowly, maybe 15 minutes, to extract the truffle essence and avoid browning the egg even a little. What I got were eggs that were lightly custardy (what I was going for!), a slightly dense pillow that cushioned each truffle chunk in a pocket of perfumed deliciousness.

But I did screw up.

Having never enjoyed such riches before, I was insufficiently careful in how thin I cut them. Some pieces didn't soften sufficiently and so were a little crunchy. I was fascinated by the texture but felt that next time I should cut the truffles in thinner pieces, the better to infuse the surrounding medium with their goodness.

So I'm going to experiment more with these guys, get to know them, and remember them, probably, forever.



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