“It’s hard to describe truffle – it’s a very elusive perfume,” says Josh Rea, owner of specialty food supplier Gourmet Life. “It’s easy to distinguish fresh truffle from synthetic truffle. A lot of people have probably tried it and, although some of them are good, it’s nothing like the real truffle experience.”
The elusive quality of a real-deal truffle (as opposed to truffle oil, for example) is Rea’s passion. As the self-styled truffle king of Australia, Rea is committed to spreading his love for the premium and potently aromatic fungus.
How to use truffles at home
Truffles are one of those ingredients that connote high-end restaurant quality, but they’re definitely not just for chefs. With the truffle season at its peak, Rea wants to bust the myth that they’re inaccessible for the home cook.
“Time and time again we meet people that are particularly unsure of how to use truffle,” Rea says. He recommends keeping things easy and simply shaving some truffle over sunny-side-up eggs or some freshly cooked pasta. “It’s an experience that really is second to none and it’s overlooked because people think truffle’s got to be done to the nth degree to make it special, but that’s not the case.”
If you haven’t used truffles in the kitchen before (and you certainly won’t be the only one), Rea has some basic rules. “Black truffle lends itself to warmer dishes, so it’s important to pick the correct dish that you’re going to put the truffle on,” Rea says. “We see people putting it on things that it shouldn't go on – cold dishes like carpaccios. Black truffle lends itself to warm things, like pasta, risotto, scrambled eggs.” Rea also recommends storing a truffle in a glass jar with eggs (the porous eggs will absorb the powerful truffle aroma).
Now you know what to put truffles on, Rea recommends getting familiar with how to do this: shaving is the classic technique. “Many households nowadays would have a microplane – however, a truffle slicer is something of a necessity to slicing truffle paper-thin,” says Rea. “I think it’s very important that people cut truffle at a thinness where the heat that’s coming out of the dish heats the truffle and the aroma lifts off those very, very fine slices.”
Rea’s bonus tip: don’t try and use a vegetable peeler – the slices will simply be too thick.
How to get truffles delivered to your home
With Australian truffles at their yearly best, Rea is making some bespoke truffle packs available through Gourmet Life and Providoor. Each of the three packs champions truffles, of course, as well as containing a few complementary, premium ingredients.
Two packs are recipe-based (a truffle pasta and truffled eggs) while the third is a luxurious snack pack. The pasta pack contains fresh pasta imported from Italy, and it’s all about easy entry to cooking with truffles. “We didn’t want to make working with truffles out of reach for someone that’s a novice in the kitchen rather than a pro,” Rea says. The sauce is a simple emulsion of butter and stock, and is finished with a generous slicing of fresh truffle.
The second pack makes a truly regal breakfast, with eggs, sourdough, Tasmanian bacon from Boks Bacon, and Italian butter. How you make the eggs is up to personal taste. “I think scrambled is always great, but it’s probably one of the harder things to do because the average person overcooks eggs,” says Rea. “If you’re not going to go scrambled, two sunny-side-up eggs that are perfectly runny with freshly sliced truffle on top – it’s just such an easy offering.”
The final pack is pitched at those looking for a gourmet upgrade to a night in or picnic-style spread. Rather than fresh truffles, the pack contains Torres black truffle chips, specially imported from Spain, as well as premium French cheeses, foie gras, saucisson and caviar.
“The special treat is a 30-gram tin of oscietra caviar from South America,” says Rea. “It’s a nice volume of caviar for two people to be able to share.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Providoor. Gourmet Life’s truffle box is available on Providoor now.