What is a truffle? A chocolate mushroom? Where can you buy it, what does it taste, how is it eaten? To find out more about this very luxury product that has always fascinated gourmets and gourmets, we asked a few questions of one of the main importers of truffles in Montreal, Paolo Macchi. Here is what he explained to us.


What is a truffle?

The truffle is a very rare mushroom. (There are also chocolates called truffles, so named because they resemble mushrooms.) Truffles grow in several places, including France, Italy, the United States, China, Croatia, and even Sweden. But these truffles that are found everywhere are not all so fragrant and tasty. The most recognized are the French and Italian.

What are the different kinds of truffles?

There are many different names to talk about truffles – summer truffles, black truffles, white truffles, Burgundy truffles – but different names can be used from one country to another to talk about the same thing.  The best way to navigate is to use botanical names. The most famous truffle is the black Périgord truffle. It is also found in Italy under the name tartuffo di Norcia. (Norcia is a town in Umbria). This truffle is the melanosporum. It is fragrant and very aromatic and keeps relatively well (10 days in the fridge). You can also cook it. The most expensive and rare truffle is the Alba white truffle, the magnatum, which is only found in the wild and is eaten raw. However, it does not keep for a long time.

And in Oregon, what kind of truffles do you find?

There are local wild truffles, the tuber oregonense, which is considered a white truffle. There is also truffle culture from European strains.

Why are truffles so expensive?

Truffles are expensive because they are rare, difficult to find, difficult to grow – you have to inject spores into the soil and wait five or six years – and highly perishable. It grows in the earth, in truffle forests with limestone soils. A truffle likes to grow near oaks, hazelnuts – numerous in Piedmont – hornbeams and lime trees. As you cannot see it on the ground, you have to guess its presence with the help of well-trained dogs who smell it. One is never sure of its maturity before having unearthed it.

What does fresh truffle taste like?

The truffle evokes the earth, humidity, a little garlic, the forest … Often, especially in the case of white truffles, it is not the taste of the truffle that is sublime, but its smell. This is why we usually serve truffles on fairly mild dishes. Eggs, rice and pasta are excellent stakes for the truffle, which we slice thinly and gently using a small special tool, directly in front of the guest, above his plate, so that he captures the aromas well during the operation.


How do you cook truffles?

White truffles are usually eaten raw, over plain tagliatelle, risotto or even scrambled eggs. You can keep the truffle in rice, which will take on its aromas. The same goes for the eggs. Since you can also use cooked black truffles, you can put some in a sauce that will accompany a poultry or slip it between the skin and the flesh of the animal. Generally, we accompany the dish truffled with a wine that comes from the same part of the country. A Piedmontese Barolo with white truffles. A Bordeaux with Périgord truffles …

Can we find fresh truffles in Montreal?

Yes, several restaurants serve it: DNA, Toqué! , St-Urbain, Barocco, etc. The list is long. You can also buy fresh ones from Chez Louis or Nino at the Jean-Talon market, in particular.

What is truffle oil?

Truffle oil is a neutral vegetable oil flavored with a synthetic product reminiscent of black or white truffles. Sometimes a small piece of Chinese truffle or lightly scented summer truffle is slipped into the bottle to give the impression that the oil is imbued with the taste of fresh truffles, but the bulk of the scents come from artificial flavors. Just look on the ingredient list and check if the word “aroma” indicates the presence of the synthetic fragrance.

How to use truffle oil?

In minimal quantities which are measured in drops. You can easily put too much and then the taste falls on the heart. The real truffle has a captivating scent, but it is always more subtle than the artificial aromas of truffle oils. If you are used to consuming truffle oil, you may be surprised, precisely, by the subtlety of real truffle, much more delicate, precise, less intrusive.

Can we talk about price?

At retail, it takes a good twenty dollars per person, to serve truffles on a main course. We usually calculate 4 to 6 grams per person. It may seem expensive for a simple garnish, but the base can be very inexpensive – eggs, pasta, rice. I even had a delicious dish of braised celeriac garnished with truffles at the famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagen – which makes it possible to have dinner at home with a spectacular dish for a price similar to what it costs to receive while serving at all. the world a good quality meat.