La Toque has long been known for our extravagant All Black Truffle Menus. Every January we feature this special menu with Fresh Black Truffles in every course. 2018 marks our 36th year with the All Truffle Menu which will be available nightly through the end of January.
For the past couple of years we have been fortunate to enjoy a second “Winter” Truffle season with fresh Australian Truffles in June, July, and August. They are indeed every bit as good as the finest European Truffles. The availability of Winter Truffles during our Summer season is particularly exciting as it allows us to cook them with a completely different set of ingredients.
Sadly this past Fall ended up being the worst White Truffle season in generations. A hot dry Summer in Northern Italy made for a late start, poor quality and an early finish to the season. With prices typically over $4,000 a pound and mediocre quality, we only featured them a few times before giving up for the year. Fortunately, the Black Winter Truffle season started the first week in December, far earlier than normal, and with surprising good early quality. This trend has continued with the flavor and perfume now reaching a peak which I expect to continue through the rest of January.
We only use truffles from sources we know well and have used for years. We feature three species of fresh Truffles; Tuber magnatum pico, the true white truffle, Tuber melanosporum, the true winter black truffle and occasionaly Tuber uncinatum, often referred to as the Summer or Burgundy truffle. Other species just don’t compare, and they’re not worth the money. We do not use truffles native to China or Oregon, although we look forward to the success of American truffle plantations in the next few years. The truffles from the Himalayas are technically truffles, but their flavor pales in comparison to the real thing. Sadly many people don’t know the difference and are either easily fooled, or worse, mix them in with real truffles to cut costs.
We also don’t use “truffle oil”, “truffle cream”, “truffle honey” or “truffle salt” at La Toque. Flavored truffle products are crap, shunned by good chefs who know better. All of these products will desensitize your palate to the true but more subtle flavor of real fresh truffle. Truffles have been savored for millennia but truffle oil is a new phenomenon. It is no coincidence that “truffle oil” appeared only a few decades ago, when flavor scientists figured out how to make it in the laboratory with chemicals that mimic the compounds responsible for truffles legendary aroma. If it was possible to produce truffle oil by natural means, the Romans would have figured it out, long ago. You can infuse some fresh truffle flavor into oil or butter, but it doesn’t keep any better than fresh truffles which are best consumed within 10 days of hunting. Because of this very short shelf life, real truffle flavored oil is simply not a viable product. Commercially produced truffle oil is invariably artificially flavored with 2,4 dithiapentane, no matter how fancy the bottle or prestigious the purveyor. It is simply too good to be true. Real “homemade” truffle flavored oil or butter is always subtle in flavor unlike the powerful products sold commercially. That little scrap of “truffle” at the bottom of the jar is often from an inferior species, and in any event, it takes much more than a little crumb of truffle to infuse oil with any amount of flavor.
For more information on truffles I recommend three books; The Little Book of Truffles published by Flammarion, Truffles Ultimate Luxury Everyday Pleasure by Rosario Safina and Judith Sutton published by Wiley and The Truffle Book by Gareth Renowden published by Limestone Hills Publishing.
I also recommend that you visit www.simplyflavors.com, and www.truffleandwine.com.au, my favorite and most trusted purveyors of fresh truffles.
You can see our truffle menus from previous years by clicking the links below.
2017 Menu| 2016 Menu | 2015 Menu | 2014 Menu