White truffles are particularly expensive this year explains Cucina’s head chef Mattia Camorani at Hotel Missoni. The temperatures were so high in Italy and the ground so dry, they didn’t get the chance to grow big. On the other hand, they are of great quality.
Whilst we are talking Mattia is clutching a large plastic box of fresh eggs. I am intrigued. In side the box, placed on top of the eggs are shapes wrapped in kitchen paper. He gently unwraps one of the bundles to reveal a large mis-shapen form appears. A delicate, almost scented aroma escapes: a white truffle.
Mattia comments, “People either love or hate the smell”. Suffice to say I love it. At 3000 euros a kilo, I shudder to think how much this truffle is worth. It was discovered in Umbria, Italy by a specially trained “Truffle Dog”.
A truffle’s appearance can tell you a lot about where it’s from – a sandy soil will result in a rounded tuber. A truffle found in a stony soil will have a more knotted appearance.
So, why are the truffles stored in the box of eggs? Mattia explains that the eggs will absorb the truffle flavours and when the eggs are cooked, the flavour lingers all the longer. If you store the truffle in rice, it will have the same effect and will enhance any dishes you create.
In many dishes, the truffle appears at least twice. The ingredient might be cooked in butter flavoured with truffles; oh-so-thin slices will be shaved on top of the dish and there might be a touch of truffle oil to complete it. If you get the slices the wrong thickness, you’ll either lose the flavour as it will melt too quickly or too thick it could over power the dish.
“It’s always best focus on dishes that are simple and have clean flavours. We have a special white truffle dinner coming up with Giorgio Locatelli. We’ll be using the truffle in each course – even the Zabaglione dessert! Imagine, Spuma (potato foam), soup followed by a raviolo with a runny egg yolk inside, risotto, a veal dish and the dessert all flavoured with truffle! But all of these dishes are essentially simple.
Luckily, the restaurant is currently serving dishes that feature truffles: risotto, scrambled eggs with toast and truffle and taglioni with truffle (pasta that’s thinner than tagliatelli) and the zabaglione, don’t miss it, it’s going to be fabulous!
Find out more
Mattia regularly runs masterclasses. The next will reveals the secrets of the perfect risotto bianco and takes place on 10 December. To book for the masterclass, the dinner or the restaurant ring 0131 220 6666.
Hotel Missoni Edinburgh
1 George IV Bridge
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