This February I wrote a blog post about some troubling truffle experiences I encountered at a number of fine dining restaurants across Dallas. Both Private Social and Campo served me dishes garnished with black truffles that were completely flavorless -- a bummer when you've come to know how intoxicating the scent of freshly shaved truffles can be.
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This truffle season I've had too much fun dipping in and out of dingy taquerias to enjoy any truffles, and a recent article published in The New York Times makes me think I might not be missing out on much.
Remember, truffles lose a significant portion of their aroma just five days after they've been foraged, so freshness is key. The author gushes about his first-hand experience with truffles eaten straight from the ground from Italy, using words like mold, garlic, soil, and sweet body odor to describe the scent. (Sexy huh?)
Aside from flowery language, there's some good truffle text buried in the prose. For one, watch out for white truffles you see on menus this year. The season for the most fragrant of these gems is already drawing to a close. Périgords, however, are in peak season as I write this.
The best piece of advice in the article recommends home cooks leave truffles to the pros, simply because of cost and the risk associated with buying inferiors products. Established fine dining restaurants have been working with their vendors for years and know great truffles when they seem them. If you pay extra for a garnish of truffles at restaurants like these and the scent doesn't transport you to another time and place, you should pipe up and say something.