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Sep 29, 2013 03:18 PM

Your favorite brands of walnut oil and truffle oil

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.

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

    1. 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.

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

        1. re: Jake Dear

          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. 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

          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

            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

            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. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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

                      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.

                3. The walnut oil I use comes from California, but they also produce it in France.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    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

                      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

                        "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.