La Toque has long been known for our extravagant truffle menus. White truffle season got off to a slow start last fall following another hot dry summer in Piedmont. The Summer rain which truffles need to trigger the fruiting cycle didn't arrive until late August. The harvest didn't really peak until late November when the quality finally kicked in with intense perfume. Still, the top quality truffles were very scarce and accordingly the price was as high as we've ever seen.
Our 31st Annual All Truffle menu featuring fresh Black Winter truffles in every course began in Early January. This past season was the longest in memory, lasting until just past Easter. Truffle season has now ended and we are now looking forward to next fall, when the fresh White Truffles return in October. If all goes well, we anticipate our 32nd Annual All Black Truffle menu will debut on Friday, January 10th, 2014.
Planning has also begun for the Fourth Annual Napa Truffle Festival, January 17 though 19, 2014. The festival features seminars on truffle cultivation, winery truffle lunches, a spectacular Gala Dinner featuring Michelin Star Chefs from Europe and the United States, visits to local truffle plantations and a mushroom foraging expedition. Visit napatrufflefestival.com for further information.
We only use truffles from sources we know well and have used for years in both France and Italy. We feature three species of fresh Truffles; Tuber magnatum pico, the true white truffle, Tuber melanosporum, the true winter black truffle and 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 from 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. Truffle oil will desensitize your palate to the true but more subtle flavor of real fresh truffle. Flavored truffle products are a fraud, shunned by good chefs who know better. Truffles have been savored for millennia but truffle oil is a new phenomenon. It is no coincidence that "truffle oil" appeared a few decades ago, around the same time scientists successfully duplicated the chemical compounds in the laboratory that are 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, no matter how fancy the bottle or prestigious the purveyor. It is simply too good to be true. Real “home made” 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 simplyflavors.com, my favorite and most trusted purveyor of fresh truffles.
You can see our truffle menus from previous years by clicking on the links below.
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