One of my husband’s colleagues (Alexis Guerin-Laguette at Plant & Food Research) is working on the commercialisation of truffle production in New Zealand. They’ve just harvested this year’s crop, and as an ‘insider’ Ian got early access to the bounty.
“You don’t want to know what I paid for these,” he said of the five tiny mushrooms nestled carefully in a tissue-lined jar.
But, who cares—they were truffles! The real, if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it thing! They weren’t a food item, they were a life experience!
Of course, I will admit that they smelled odd. My son described it as, “sort of like petrol,” and my daughter declared the odour “weird”. I reserved judgement until the fungi were properly prepared and sitting on my tongue.
Ian described the flavour as “Sitting in my grandfather’s green leather chair in front of the fire on a crisp autumn night.” He obviously experienced it much more intensely than I did, because my description didn’t come close. I very much enjoyed the flavour—strong, rich and earthy, and unlike any other mushroom I’ve eaten. I also appreciated the crisp texture of the paper-thin slices on top of creamy risotto. Was it worth it? Yes. Worth every penny (even at $2500/kg)!
For those of you near Christchurch who want to try out some truffles yourself, check out the truffle festival July 11-18!