Truffle Paste Question
I've never had/used truffle paste and can't find it locally and have to mail order it.
Is white better than black?
Is it worth the expense?
Does anyone have any brand recommendations?
I found a great, easy recipe (perfect for weeknights) calling for truffle paste. I'd love to try it but I found pricing online ranging from $30 - $90 (not including s/h) for it. I don't want to purchase crap but I don't want to be a sucker either.
(I posted this question a few months ago but it was never addressed, sorry if it's redundant)
I used a dab of white truffle paste in each ramekin of shirred eggs. Outstanding! The brand was TartufLanghe. My daughter bought it in Italy. This brand does not seem to be sold in the US, but if you put the brand name into Google you will see that they have a web site and sell direct from Italy.
The results were so superb, that the cost was more than justified.
Not knowing what the recipe you want to try is for makes your question difficult to answer. The recipe *should* give a clue as to whether it's calling for white or black truffles. Sometimes terms like "winter" or "summer" are used, usually meaning black and white respectively, but not necessarily.
The best known and most flavorful (and expensive) white truffles are from the Piedmont area of Italy. There are also lesser grade white truffles from other parts of Italy, France, and the U.S. Sometimes the "lesser" truffles come very very close to premium white truffles, sometimes they miss the mark noticeably and are just plain disappointing. White truffles are almost always used raw and "shaved" or sliced very thin, added at the very last moment in cooked dishes, or shaved on top of a dish as a garnish. They do not hold up well in cooking as their flavor diminishes and the aroma is compromised. I've never actually tasted a white truffle paste, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but it seems to me that the processing would require heat somewhere along the line, so I wouldn't pay good money for a white truffle paste based on that. But if I had the chance to taste it without forking out a ton of money and it was good, I could be a convert!
The best fresh black winter truffles come from Perigord, France, and like premium white truffles, they're very expensive, ranking up there with caviar in price. But like caviar, you don't have to buy a pound or a kilo to enjoy them. Black truffles are also grown in other areas of France, Italy, and the U.S., as well as other countries, I'm sure. There was a time when wild-found truffles were the only kind, but in the last few decades great and successful progress has been made at "farming" them. You can now even buy young trees with roots that have been "impregnated" with truffle spores, and in a few years you can harvest your very own truffles, assuming your climate is right. There are also summer black truffles, and like truffles not from Perigord, they are considered inferior, and some are more inferior than others. Black truffles, including Perigord, are also available in jars or tins. You can also buy black truffle peels, which I would probably choose over truffle paste, but it would depend on the recipe.
The flavor of black truffles and white truffles is not the same, so if your objective is to do a faithful reproduction of the recipe, then you really have to figure out whether the recipe calls for black or white truffles, as well as whether peels or paste are a viable option. Keep in mind that if you buy an inferior product, you will get inferior results.
The recipe specifically calls for white truffle paste - it's a simple pasta dish with cream and truffle paste added at the end. It was the price at the link provided by kandagawa that originally started this process for me.
$90 seemed pretty pricey for something I'd never tried...if black truffle paste where almost as good, I'd be willing to sub it since it's significantly cheaper.
I guess I'm going to have to try it...I wish the dollar were doing better, I think that was cheaper a few months ago.
From your link:
"Aimo buys the paste from two brothers-in-law who produce it in Milan. During truffle season, the brothers take the one-hour jaunt to Alba to buy the best truffles available for their unparalleled truffle paste [...] The price of the tube is considerably less expensive than the cost of a top-quality fresh truffle "
LOL! Let me see if I understood correctly:
a) the brothers buy the fresh stuff
b) they process into paste
c) they package the product
d) they sell it to a distributor, who in turn sells to the public, ending up with a product that is "considerably less expensive" than the raw materials they started from.
Not counting labor, profits, &etc.
Did I say LOL! Sorry, I meant ROFLMAO !!!
I've bought white truffle paste a couple of times after getting addicted at a food fair. I have to say that, upon examination, the stuff I bought was mostly made up of very thinly sliced regular white mushrooms plus white truffle oil (and even the oil can be entirely synthetic -- never saw a truffle).
to preface, i know absolutely nothing about truffle paste, and not much more about truffles, other than the exotic lore.
i just analogized to anchovy paste vis-a-vis anchovies. purists claim the paste is the lowest quality stuff, all ground up.
just thinking that a quality truffle would command top dollar. why would it be turned into a paste if it were good?
I'd like to purchase the paste for a specific recipe with hopes that if I like it, it would be a fun ingredient to experiment with. I really would like to try it. I just would like a little more information before I spend the money, especially since there seems to be such a huge difference in price from site to site.
I know a lot of people are unimpressed with truffle oil...how does truffle paste rate?
Have you had truffles or just not the paste? White and black are different, which is better is up to you. If you can find jarred truffles locally, maybe just chop those up and experiment, I think they are around $10. There must be some sort of truffle product available locally - aren't there any Italian specialty stores in your area? I'm thinking DeLaurenti or even PFI in Seattle would have something, but it looks like you're in Portland.