The first time I ever ate a truffle was when I was eight years old. My family had been invited to attend a friend’s annual Christmas party. Among the many canapes being passed around on highly polished silver trays was foie gras with truffles on toast. I had never had foie gras before, let alone heard of it. And while I took French at the United Nations International School, I hadn’t yet learned the word for “liver”. These family friends (Mr and Mrs M) had great taste, and over the years since this incident, I have been fortunate enough to eat in some of the world’s best restaurants with them. While their home is in New York, they spent and still spend a good portion of each year in France. And as gourmands, indulge in all the best produce available there. That Christmas, the foie gras was, as is their practice, simply the best, fresh off a plane from Strasbourg, and studded all the way through its middle with black truffle.
One bite was all it took. I was hooked, on both the liver and the shroom. Today, my reaction and follow-up action have reached slight epic status (of course, only among friends and family). Mr and Mrs M like to tell people that I shortly devoured the entire tray, obviously embarrassing my parents to no end, but earning a place in their hearts forever.
Over the years since, I’ve had the fortune of eating both black and white truffles, in a variety of dishes. I still love foie gras with truffles but now equally desire a myriad of other truffle-infused delicacies. As does my wife.
And so, for her birthday, which was last week, I got a chef-friend of mine to bring in 100g of black truffles for me. On the eve of her Birthday, I made a dinner for her and 3 friends. It was a simple but fun meal. The first course was Baked Eggs with Tetsuya Wakuda’s Truffle Salsa (now available in jars). This was followed by a Chicken slow-cooked “en cocotte” with a Truffle-Butter Sauce and Braised Japanese Leeks. The main was a roasted Tenderloin served with an XO Sauce and Baby Carrots.
Amazingly, despite being pretty liberal with truffle shavings, both in the Truffle-Butter sauce, and tucked under the chicken’s skin, I only managed to use about 40-50% of the truffles.
So, yesterday, my brother’s girlfriend and my wife collaborated to use up the rest of our truffles. Six of us gathered in our tiny apartment for a wonderful meal. J (my brother’s girlfriend) prepared a home-made Pappardelle with Porcini, drizzled with White Truffle Oil, and my wife (“S”) made a variation of Tournedos Rossini (steak with foie gras and truffles), using Ribeye and a cognac-based sauce.
Both dishes were amazing. J’s pasta was better than anything I’ve had recently in Singapore or Italy (although truth be told, my last two trips to Italy have been to Venice–which we all know is not the best place in Italy to eat). S’s Tournedos was also divine. Instead of pan-frying or grilling the steaks, she slow-roasted the whole chunk of meat at 75 degrees Celsius for 5 hours. It was delightfully juicy and tender. My only regret is that, being in Singapore, we had to settle for Australian beef, which, in my opinion, is too lean. I much prefer US beef, but unfortunately, that’s still banned here. But, that should be the topic for a future post.