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Your favorite brands of walnut oil and truffle oil

ScottnZelda Sep 29, 2013 03:18 PM

I've bought a number of LeBlanc oils over the years, but wonder about trying some of your favorite brands of walnut and truffle oils, if you would please provide the names and where I might find them in Paris. Many thanks in advance.

  1. s
    ScottnZelda Oct 1, 2013 04:25 PM

    I'm surprised to receive no replies yet. I'm sure there are some opinions here. What do you buy?

    1. n
      Nancy S. Oct 1, 2013 05:48 PM

      My favorite is Leblanc, so for me, nothing new to add. (Though only for nut and grape seed and olive, since I'm not a fan of truffle oil.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Nancy S.
        Jake Dear Oct 1, 2013 05:55 PM

        And is "truffle oil," even French bought in France, normally anything except mostly chemical flavoring added to oil? -- Jake

        1. re: Jake Dear
          Ptipois Oct 3, 2013 03:29 PM

          Truffle oil is *always* chemical flavoring added to oil.
          It cannot be anything else, since it is impossible 1. to squeeze oil from a truffle and 2. to obtain truffle-flavored oil from macerating truffles in oil, at least for commercial use.

          Why 2?
          Because truffle, as a fresh ingredient, contains water. When kept in oil, it falls to the bottom of the vessel. When it exsudes water, that causes fermentation. Thus it is possible to make truffle-infused oil at home but the product won't keep more than a few days. And considering the quantity of truffles that should be used to flavor oil, that would be using a lot of truffles for not so great a result (you cannot reuse the truffles when they have macerated in oil).
          The components of truffle aroma have been identified and isolated, and so it is possible to recreate it chemically. A solution of the chemical components in oil is called "Huile arôme truffe" and is not legally allowed to be called "truffle oil".
          Better go directly to the brand name that developed and issued "huile arôme truffe" for the first time: Pebeyre products are available at Lafayette Gourmet and La Grande Epicerie. They also produce excellent canned truffles of all grades.

          Please note that "huile arôme truffe" is by no means a replacement for truffle. It is meant to enhance the flavor when you use truffles in cooking and is added at the last moment (in scrambled eggs, salad dressings, etc.).

      2. mangeur Oct 1, 2013 06:38 PM

        I find walnut oil terribly perishable, so I buy it in the smallest quantity and, of course, keep it refrigerated. I really have no favorite brand. I've never been a fan of LeBlanc, finding many of his oils tired tasting.

        We do not use truffle oil for the reasons already given.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mangeur
          ScottnZelda Oct 3, 2013 07:14 AM

          I had no idea truffle oil was full of chemicals. Thanks for that info, and I guess I'll stick with shopping for walnut oil.

          1. re: ScottnZelda
            ChefJune Oct 3, 2013 09:01 AM

            MOST truffle oil is all chemical. The aroma is apparently not difficult to recreate in the chemistry lab. I have had some real truffle oil from Oregon, and there is some from Provence, but if you can find it, it is almost as expensive as the truffles themselves. Beware of anyone trying to sell you a bargain!

          2. re: mangeur
            monchique Oct 7, 2013 11:22 AM

            If desperate for walnut oil (like you would if you lived in Portugal), try some mild olive oil with a pinch of curry powder added. It does work well as a substitute...

          3. Parnassien Oct 3, 2013 10:56 AM

            For truffle oil without chemicals, try PPP (Première Pression Provence)... a handful of shops in Paris... the one on the rue Antoine Vollon/ Square Trousseau near the Marché d'Aligre in the 12th has a sort of pop-up lunch cantine with Miss Lunch cooking demos/ lessons on (?) Wed to Sat.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Parnassien
              Ptipois Oct 3, 2013 03:35 PM

              Pardon me... but there is no such thing as "truffle oil" without chemicals, because there is no such thing as truffle oil strictly speaking (facts explained above).

              If it were possible to find commercially available "truffle oil" from maceration of truffles, it would be financially out of reach - more expensive than real truffles - because it takes plenty of truffles to flavor a little oil. And that oil would have to be kept refrigerated and its shelf life would be very short.

              "Truffle oil" (which, legally, should not bear that name) is always 100% chemicals and 0% truffle. Anything of the name claiming to be otherwise can only be fraud.

              1. re: Ptipois
                PhilD Oct 3, 2013 03:58 PM

                And whilst it may be chemicals there are good ones and less good ones and a little sprinkle can make simple mashed potatoes something special so no need to dismiss it because it's "not real".

                It was over used by chefs a few years ago but that doesn't mean it should be dropped.

                1. re: PhilD
                  Ptipois Oct 3, 2013 04:01 PM

                  I agree. It is not a bad product per se.
                  One should be careful not to overuse it, and as I wrote above, it is meant as a truffle enhancer, not as a truffle substitute.

                2. re: Ptipois
                  Parnassien Oct 3, 2013 06:00 PM

                  Oops, not being a cook, I thought truffle oil was just olive oil with macerated truffle. Which you can get at PPP.
                  "Huile obtenue par macération de la truffe noire fraîche de provence (Tuber Mélanosporum) dans l'huile d'olive vierge extra."

                  1. re: Parnassien
                    Ptipois Oct 3, 2013 10:21 PM

                    It may be written on the bottle, but it is chemically unlikely. Unless it was in the cold section with "keep in a refrigerated place" and a clear "use by" mention with a short shelf life.
                    Not to mention the fact that olive oil + black truffle don't go well together (competing aromas), but that is another story.

                    You can't dry truffles. You can't squeeze oil from them (they don't contain any). You can't macerate fresh truffles in oil except for short-term home use (and it would cost an arm and a leg, spoiling perfectly good truffles that should be used fresh), and you certainly can't macerate canned truffles in oil — do the math.

                    It has nothing to do with being a cook — truffle is probably the ingredient that suffers the most nonsense, in words or in practice, and as the ingredient gradually disappears, the nonsense gets worse. As a matter of fact there is going to be an entire book about the subject out by November.

                    Walnut oil is a different matter but I can't think of a brand name. I usually get it in the production region, from the producer, generally in unlabeled bottles. If I can't taste it first, I don't buy it. There are plenty of commercial walnut oils out there that just taste bad.

                    1. re: Parnassien
                      tmso Oct 4, 2013 04:09 AM

                      The repression des fraudes already can't keep up with ordinary olive oil that claims to be from provence. I doubt that oil has seen a truffle, but if it has, it got its flavor from the arome, not from the truffle.

                      1. re: tmso
                        Ptipois Oct 4, 2013 05:59 AM

                        My point exactly.

                3. ChefJune Oct 4, 2013 09:05 AM

                  The walnut oil I use comes from California, but they also produce it in France. http://latourangelle.com/index.php/ro...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ChefJune
                    ScottnZelda Oct 4, 2013 11:42 AM

                    Thanks for a great discussion! Pti, your explanation makes perfect sense. I may seek out PPP while in Paris, but will look into Grand Epicerie, too, for "arome" which I HAVE noticed on certain bottles. Going into winter, I like to use a little of this oil on pasta/sometimes risotto. It's never a replacement for the "real thing," but I love the flavor. For eggs, I use truffle salt. Also to flavor toasted almonds. Thanks to you all.

                    1. re: ScottnZelda
                      ScottnZelda Oct 4, 2013 11:51 AM

                      And Pti, I'll be in the Dordogne next May and will try for walnut oil then, but need a small stock to keep me over winter. Thus, I need to buy in Paris, too. Any CH reccos?

                      1. re: ScottnZelda
                        Parigi Oct 14, 2013 07:24 AM

                        "Dordogne next May and will try for walnut oil "
                        Ferme-auberge le Moulin à Huile de Noix in Martel, in northern Lot, which is practically the Dordogne, less than an hour's drive from Sarlat.
                        It's a walnul farm, duh. The farm-fresh food is also excellent. Must reserve.
                        Just the kind of place where Zelda would have flirted with the walnut farmer.

                  2. mangeur Oct 4, 2013 11:58 AM

                    While perusing the shelves in a tiny shop Pti sent us to. I picked up some truffle product and the shopkeeper said, in effect, "Do not consider that. Do not buy any commercial truffle product. They are all bad. Use the real thing or do without. There is no substitute. To use any out of season or derivative product is a waste of money and food."

                    So I spent the money on foie gras.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: mangeur
                      Ptipois Oct 4, 2013 02:22 PM

                      I wouldn't be so harsh, far from it. Preserved (canned) truffles are an excellent product when from the right manufacturer. I trust Pebeyre products because I know how the Pebeyres work, and their honesty about truffle facts is rather amazing - sobering at times, but always worthwhile. Their family has been selling truffles wholesale and retail for four generations and they know their business. They are the ones who first ordered serious scientific research about truffle aroma, which resulted in isolating the components and recreating a very close imitation of truffle aroma.

                      They also are the ones who insist that "huile arôme truffe" should not be used on its own but to help bring out the flavor of some truffle preparations like truffle butter and egg-based recipes.

                      Recommending against using truffles out of season is pure nonsense. In season you can use fresh truffles, but good canned truffles are no less good than fresh truffles, they are a different product with a different, more complex flavor. Think canned sardines compared to fresh sardines.
                      Fresh truffles are better in cold, uncooked preparations, while canned truffles shoud not be used there. But if you want to make a foie gras terrine with truffle inside, you may use some fresh truffle if you are to eat the terrine within one week or so, but if you wish to keep the foie gras longer (by sterilizing it), you should use a canned truffle for it has already been sterilized. When making sauce à la truffe (basically, pureed truffle whisked with butter), canned truffle is mandatory. Fresh truffle won't do. Etc.

                      Canned truffles are priced according to category. In decreasing order of price, first you have "truffes entières pelées", whole peeled truffles, then "brossées extra", whole unpeeled regular-shaped truffles, and "brossées premier choix", whole unpeeled irregular-shaped truffles. Then you have "morceaux", large chunks, generally just as good as the brossées.
                      Lower in price, the "pelures" (peelings) used to be real peelings, but now they are rather chopped slivers of second-choice truffles. They are still good, but inferior to the categories above.
                      And finally you have the "brisures", a mix of bits and pieces fallen from truffles during their cleaning and brushing, and finely chopped pieces of second-choice truffles.
                      All these come in a certain amount of canning juice which is a pure truffle extract that should absolutely be used. "Jus de truffes" is the same canning juice sold on its own.

                      All other derived products you should stay away from, especially the truffle purees in oil which usually taste and smell terrible because they've been made from low-quality truffle bits blended with truffle aroma oil, and the maceration that ensues does not improve the concoction.

                      I am not including the truffle aroma oil since it is not a truffle-derived product at all. However, be wary of anything labeled "truffle oil" or "truffle-flavored oil", it is most likely a fraud. The labeling should state that the oil is artificially flavored and that is precisely what is printed on the Pebeyre Huile Arôme Truffe label.

                      1. re: Ptipois
                        mangeur Oct 4, 2013 03:10 PM

                        Wow! Thanks for this. I'm glad I shared my moment..

                        Ah, ETA FWIW you sent me to this shop for foie gras, not for truffles.

                        1. re: mangeur
                          Ptipois Oct 5, 2013 06:54 AM

                          Which shop was that, Mangeur?

                        2. re: Ptipois
                          Parnassien Oct 4, 2013 04:40 PM

                          I think we should all build altars to la déesse Ptipois for sharing her amazing knowledge... anyone know what should be the proper offering for all her much appreciated insights ? I have so little experience with adoration... but I'm a believer now !

                          1. re: Parnassien
                            mangeur Oct 4, 2013 06:22 PM

                            Hear, hear! (How about a virtual bottle of Doisy Daëne?)

                            1. re: mangeur
                              Ptipois Oct 5, 2013 06:54 AM

                              Now THAT's a bribe.

                              (Seriously - you can buy the book when it comes out. There will be a French and an English edition. Not wishing to advertise, I can only say that you'll know it when you see it.)

                              1. re: Ptipois
                                John Talbott Oct 5, 2013 07:14 AM

                                "Not wishing to advertise, I can only say that you'll know it when you see it." I have no such restrictions and will tell all wwith all my toe and finger nails intact.

                                1. re: John Talbott
                                  John Talbott Oct 5, 2013 12:38 PM

                                  So the book will be out in November and is published by Féret, in Bordeaux. Title TBA.

                            2. re: Parnassien
                              John Talbott Oct 5, 2013 07:12 AM

                              Amazing - but both of you are - we owe you big time (which my friend Paga partially tried to recompense Pti for today). But more about that great meal at DansLes Landes with a new carte - later.

                              1. re: Parnassien
                                Rio Yeti Oct 6, 2013 02:08 AM

                                I'm joining the cult crowd.
                                Thank you Ptipois for all this insight.

                                Although I understand the use of truffle oil as an enhancer for a dish already using truffles, the stuff is so powerful that I would be afraid to overpower the natural aroma of the truffles. One should note that truffle oil should always only be used in a few drops.

                                Next time I see a bottle of supposedly "real" truffle oil, I will take a closer look at the ingredient list.

                                1. re: Parnassien
                                  Parigi Oct 14, 2013 07:28 AM

                                  We're talking about the déesse who saved my Thanksgiving turkey, using a new (which means capricious) oven.

                            3. Teep Oct 14, 2013 05:00 AM

                              What about the truffles sold in little glass jars?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Teep
                                Ptipois Oct 14, 2013 07:39 AM

                                They're truffles preserved by sterilization, i.e. canned, and they're just like canned green beans: if they're good they're good, if they're not they're not.

                                A good preserved truffle will always be better than a mediocre fresh truffle. Besides, the two products are not equivalent and are used in different types of preparations.

                                1. re: Ptipois
                                  ScottnZelda Oct 14, 2013 01:36 PM

                                  Pti, I have read one recco to look for truffles in jars with cognac, too. But wouldn't those flavors compete?

                                  1. re: ScottnZelda
                                    Ptipois Oct 14, 2013 02:01 PM

                                    Yes, they would, absolutely. One domestic method for preserving truffles at home is keeping them in madeira wine. I like that much better.

                                    When buying preserved truffles you'll always be better off with plain canned truffles than with cognac-preserved truffles. Cognac may be used to conceal bad quality.

                                    1. re: Ptipois
                                      ScottnZelda Oct 14, 2013 05:44 PM

                                      Would the madeira truffles be "preserved" or merely kept in jars with a bit of wine?

                                      1. re: ScottnZelda
                                        Ptipois Oct 14, 2013 08:02 PM

                                        It is a home recipe. You won't find it in stores. When I have fresh truffles and I know I won't be able to use all of them, I just put them in a glass jar and pour Madeira over them, and I keep that in the fridge. When I have fresh truffle peelings I put them in too for aroma.

                                        1. re: Ptipois
                                          ScottnZelda Oct 15, 2013 06:37 AM

                                          Thanks for the useful tip!

                              2. Parigi Oct 14, 2013 07:18 AM

                                Walnut oil: from Ferme-auberge le Moulin à Huile de Noix in Martel, northern Lot, which I either buy from the farm or order by emailing.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Parigi
                                  ScottnZelda Mar 17, 2014 07:51 AM

                                  Parigi, I'll be there in May! Thanks for the tips.

                                  1. re: ScottnZelda
                                    Parigi Mar 17, 2014 08:22 AM

                                    Yeah ! Do try to (reserve) have a meal at the farm restaurant. It is the number one local secret. All the ingredients are produced by the farm or neighboring farm. (Therefore don't expect a huge menu. I remember the mains are either duck or lamb, all from the farm). You will have a great meal at a great value.

                                    1. re: Parigi
                                      mangeur Mar 17, 2014 09:17 AM

                                      Once again you break my heart!

                                      1. re: mangeur
                                        Parigi Mar 17, 2014 09:58 AM

                                        Vas-y, fonce !

                                        1. re: Parigi
                                          mangeur Mar 17, 2014 11:12 AM

                                          My one prayer is that I outlive my bucket list! :)

                                      2. re: Parigi
                                        ScottnZelda Mar 18, 2014 06:59 AM

                                        We have a reservation for lunch! I read your post that booking ahead was essential, so it will be a real treat for the four of us. Thanks, again! Are there any other special "do not miss" places? We're staying in tiny Envaux, and have also booked Le Vieux Logis for tapas lunch. Dinners will be mainly market- driven in our rented house. (2 weeks) with lunches "out." Two nights in Bordeaux before the house arrival. A week in Paris after. Can't wait.

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