Who does not love truffles? Leslie Stahl LOVES truffles. She went bonkers on 60 Minutes. Dotoré is neither fond of truffles or eggs. And that is the combo most truffle lovers rave about. He’s a maverick! [ed. he has to love Leslie Stahl? Everybody loves Leslie Stahl.]. We know there are quite a few readers that agree with tBoW that these tubers are divine. IGTY is a long time tuber man.
Once you have eaten enough truffles you will find yourself thinking about them unexpectedly. I think. I was thinking about truffles a few weeks back. I started looking for an inspiring video and came across Eric Lyon of Oregon. He digs up truffles in Oregon. He sells black and white truffles at a f-r-a-c-t-i-o-n… uh, 6% for the much desired white variety… of what the Alba and French truffles run. At that kind of discount we HAD TO KNOW. So we ordered two ounces plus overnight UPS shipping at $25. Math problem!!
Eric described the black truffles [ed. usually cheaper] as straying quite a bit from their black French counterpart. Chocolate flavors, he said. The white ones, he claimed, did have the pungency of Alba white truffles. But he was not willing to sell me any truffles until he had been to the Truffle Fest taking place that January weekend in Eugene [ed. future destination journey].
Cut to the chase. The dozen or more white truffles he sent were about the size of my thumbnail. They were quite pungent giving off a powerful whiff of methane upon opening. About half have been consumed. The balance will be used in a few days.
I fired off a set of fevered questions and here are Eric’s replies.
tBoW: Does size make a difference in flavor/aroma?
EL: No, the size of a truffle has no bearing on it’s aroma or flavor. We have harvested completely ripe truffles as small as a pea to as large as a baseball. The amount of nutrient exchange between the host tree and the truffle is probably what determines it’s size.
tBoW: These whites are different than Italian. Not quite as pungent. I had a white truffle pasta dish at a very fancy pants Ital restaurant in Nov. They shaved a ton on top and it was all encompassing. How would you describe the most you have ever shaved on a plate of pasta?
EL: I am by no means an accomplished chef and most of my cooking has been with the Oregon black truffle. But what I do know is that a fairly large restaurant uses about 3 ounces of my whites for it’s weekend dinner special. Usually an ounce of truffles should feed 4-8 people.
tBoW: Other than eggs what else do you put them on?
EL: I usually make a home-made Alfredo sauce and pasta. Or shave it over high quality meat as it’s resting. One of the restaurants I sell to makes an aioli sauce. Two Thanksgivings ago, I took two ounces of vacuum sealed frozen white truffles and stuffed them under the skin of our turkey…the whole thing was bursting with white truffle aroma and flavor…so stuffed poultry might be worth examining. Sorry, but I just don’t have a lot of cooking experience or second hand knowledge with Whites.
tBoW: I also let a few sit in a sealed bag of spinach for a few hours. Could not taste anything. Bad idea? Please critique.
EL:Leafy greens is something I haven’t tried before. Hard boiled eggs infused in a container with white truffles to make deviled eggs or egg salad is one recipe I have tried with success.
tBoW: What is the terrain like where you find them. Have any video I can use?
EL: The most common habitat for Oregon truffles is found in young Douglas Fir (15-40 yr old) tree plantations, with little or no under story of plant life. Oregon truffles can be found in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Coast Range in both Oregon/Washington and in the Willamette valley. The soil is rich and usually loose. Here’s a couple of video’s I’ve done for Youtube.
tBoW: Is the truffle region in Willamette Valley? Is there a specific general region?
EL: Portland to Eugene are probably the best areas for finding truffles.
tBoW: Are certain dogs better than others? Got a photo of your hound?
EL: I’ve had a lot of success with Labradors. My first truffle dog, Zoe, passed away a year ago, so I now train my friends’ dogs to find truffles. The first video I posted is with Buster. He is a natural truffle dog. Almost zero training was necessary with him. Leroy is a black Lab who has been having great success too. Labs seem to have this activity hardwired in their brain. Many other dog breeds can have great success too. It’s all about a dog that has the focus and the drive to find truffles for long periods without getting distracted by other stimuli and smells.
As the headshrinker says at the end of group, what did we learn? Eric uses dogs that he trains to dig out the truffles. The traditional method is to use pigs which just shows how tradition can be overrated…at times…under certain circumstances. Not always.
He sells his truffles to top dining spots! Portland has plenty.
He used frozen truffles with a turkey? I have tried infusing fresh truffles with the T-Day bird without much impact. I think the chef set aside a certain proportion for her scrambled eggs. I understand truffle temptation.
Within a few days of receiving the stinky little turds I prepared a pasta dish and shaved several over the plate. Yum. A few days later we dunk about five of the filthy balls sliced up into a reduction sauce that accompanied a filet mignon tenderloin. The sauce cooked for at least 40 minutes. We were amazed at the impact the truffes had on the sauce and the sliced beef we poured it over. It was something that must be repeated.
If you want contact info for Eric just ask below and I will post it.