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What Exactly are Truffles?

6 December 2016

Anyone who appreciates great Italian food has probably heard of truffles before. They are considered one of the utmost culinary delicacies and are highly sought after for their unique taste, aroma, and rarity. A variety of wonderful dishes that range from savory to sweet can be greatly enhanced with the use of truffles. But enough talk about that, you are now probably asking what are truffles? Well, in order to understand just how rare of a culinary delicacy they are, a little backstory is necessary.  

What are truffles made from?

A truffle is not a culinary creation that was born in a kitchen somewhere but instead it is actually a fungus, species from the Tuber genus to be exact. Truffles are the fruiting body from certain species of subterranean fungi. Normally found near the roots of certain trees, truffles rely on fungivores (animals that eat fungi) to spread their spores. While I’m sure this sounds like anything but appetizing, trust me that enjoying a dish that uses truffles is truly something you and your taste buds will remember for a long time. The famous gourmet chef, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, called truffles “the diamond of the kitchen” for their rarity and exquisite characteristics to transform a dish. Truffles are highly regarded in Croatian, French, Georgian, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and Spanish cooking.

Why are truffles so expensive?

White and black truffles are grown in nature and are entirely wild. Since the discovery of truffles, there have been countless attempts to cultivate and domesticate them into a manageable crop. However, due to the fact that they require highly specific soil, moisture and other factors, mankind has been unable to control their growth. Mainly found in Italy, truffles grow completely underground in the root systems of chestnut, oak, hazelnut and other trees. Female pigs were the first animals used to hunt and harvest truffles because they were believed to smell like male pig testosterone. Truffle harvesters quickly switched to using dogs because pigs would damage the truffle beds and were reluctant to hand over the truffles since they desired to eat them as well (can you blame the pigs?). Due to the inability to farm them, the weather and soil disparities and difficulty to find, truffles fetch a hefty price on the market.

What do truffles taste like?

Some may describe the taste of black truffles as a mixture of chocolaty, nutty and earthy and others may describe it as having a subtle woody flavor mixed with a slight mushroom taste. The region where a truffle is harvested from plays a large role in the taste. White truffles carry a slightly different taste and aroma. They are often described as having a slight garlicky flavor similar to shallots with a deep musky aroma. The pungent aroma and subtle flavor can turn any traditional dish into a gourmet taste experience. As said before, truffles have the unique ability to enhance savory and even sweet dishes to gourmet status.

One of the best places in all of Miami to fully explore and discover the wonderful taste of truffles is at Toscana Divino with their Truffle Experience. This is a six-part taste experience that offers diners a complete range of the delicacy that truffles offer.

Peschiola al Tartufo– Drawf Peach Shaved Black Truffle.

Uovo In Camicia– Wild Mushroom Poached Egg Bread Crostini White Truffle Piemonte.

Tartare di Vitello– Veal Tartare White Truffle Piemonte.

Tagliatelle– Fresh Tagliatelle Parmesan Butter White Truffle Piemonte.

Assaggio di Filetto– Painted Hills Filet Roasted Kale Mashed Potatoes Black Truffle.

Lollipop– Ecuadorian Chocolate Cherry in Syrup Black Truffle.

The Truffle Experience is just one more reason that Toscana Divino is one of the best Italian restaurants in all of Miami

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