Every truffle season I am frustrated and annoyed at the amount of cafes that either don't know how to use truffles, or do and blatantly rip consumers off. I have decided to write a blog explaining how cafes are misleading us and how we can avoid being ripped off. I will also explain how inexpensive it is to buy your own truffles and how easy they are to use. Let's begin ...
Sorry, there is NO truffle in truffle oil! In most cases the truffle flavour is synthetically made. Yes, it’s FAKE! There are very rare exceptions, for example,Messina's creative department make their own truffle oil. They vacuum seal grape seed and olive oil with a large amount of truffle and then sous vide it between 4-6 times, before storing it for a few weeks.
Cafes and restaurants are promoting truffle dishes on their menu and they're charging good money for these seasonal delights. Unfortunately, a lot of them are using truffle oil and slicing truffle on top to make it look legitimate. If you are served a meal which has truffle oil in it, it is a waste to shave fresh truffle on top, as the prominent flavour will be the truffle oil. It is also likely that they are shaving old truffle (with no flavour) on your meal, knowing you'll smell and taste the truffle oil. Truffles are a subtle flavour and are best used through infusion. Shaving it on top of a dish is good, but it is not the most effective use of the truffle.
Truffle oil using cafes are not completely to blame. We as consumers also have to take some responsibility. We have become accustomed to the aroma and taste of truffle oil and when we are served a fresh truffle dish, we complain that we can't taste the truffle. This must be frustrating for chefs trying to do the right thing.
What I suggest we do prior to ordering a truffle dish is;
1. Ask whether they use truffle oil. If the answer is “yes,” don't order it.
2. If they don't use truffle oil, ask how the truffle is used in the dish. If they only shave the truffle on top of the meal, I would suggest ordering something else. You really want to hear that they infuse the truffle into a part of the meal and use fresh truffle shavings. This combination will yield the best result.
3. Don't order a truffle dish that has strong flavours. A spicy chilli style meal is likely to mask the truffle flavour and leave you wondering why you spent so much money on it.
If you would like to learn more about truffles, I would suggest a truffle hunt at a Truffle farm. I started my truffle journey a few years ago at a farm in Canberra, which was a fun and educational experience. If a day trip to a farm is a bit much, you could visit one of the local truffle suppliers and pick their brain. They are very knowledgeable and usually happy to share their passion for truffles.
Every year I hear people tell me they don't buy truffles because they are too expensive, and that they don't know how to cook with them. Truffles are affordable and very easy to cook with. As mentioned before, the best way to use truffles is through infusion. Infusion sounds fancy, but it’s actually as easy as putting your truffle in an airtight jar with some raw eggs, that’s it. The eggs will become infused with truffle.
I recently purchased a 9 gram truffle from Madame Truffles for $27. Yes, thats a rather expensive purchase for such a small item, but that one truffle has infused 18 eggs, 600 ml of cream and 150 grams of honey. And I still have 6 grams left, which I will most likely use for grating on my infused eggs when I cook them.
If you would like to know more about infusing these items with truffle click here
A special thank you to Madame Truffles for allowing me to photograph their truffles. If you are looking for an array of truffles to choose from, or some great truffle products like truffle ice cream, truffle salt and more, Madame truffles is a great place to start. I purchased truffles from Madame Truffles this season for the first time. I enjoyed smelling truffles from NSW, WA, VIC, and TAS, and deciding which aroma I preferred prior to purchasing. Did I mention the ice cream...
Note: This is an independent review, truffles purchased were self funded by "Itd be rude not to".