Just a trifle excited
Truffle Festival patron Antonio Carluccio
What do you like about truffles?
It is my big hobby, my love for natures. I grew up with it, I was a child in the area where it grows and was taken by my father to go picking truffles with a little dog. I was so impressed at the smell and the ability to go and find them. Although the dog had most of the work to do.
It is a fascination and has taken me to other fields. Mushrooms are my other great love, because a truffle is a mushroom. It remains for the rest of my life my hobby.
I was educated to that, many people don’t know the taste and smell. My opinion is you either hate or love it. I don’t know any people that are indifferent to truffles. Either way you are pro or contro and many people are pro.
How would you describe the smell?
If you take all the spices of the world, all the herbs, and put them together that’s probably truffle. It’s something that’s quote quite powerful. The black truffle is less it’s really gentle and tastes of nature, of earth. The white truffle is much, much more intense in smell. We are blessed in Italy, the white truffle is much more potent.
Imagine if you have it in your hand, all the surrounding will smell of it. You can’t put a white truffle in the fridge, everything then has the smell of the truffle.
Is that always a bad thing?
No, they put it with eggs, they absorb the smell and then eat truffle eggs.
How do you store them?
You have to know a bit about them, because people are also preparing to cheat, and you don’t know how fresh it is. Usually the white one, they have a certain limit of time. You can keep the black for a couple of weeks but it loses a little bit of smell. If you know grower, get one with a good perfume.
Wrap it in tissue paper, put it in an air tight jar and put it in the fridge. You have to change the tissue every day because it exudes moisture and can start to mould. That’s the mushroom of the mushroom growing.
How long can you keep them?
A white can keep for one week, black two or three weeks.
How do you eat it?
You shave it on food. Here’s a wonderful recipe, you take a ramekin, put a little bit of truffle butter around it, put in a bit of double cream and crack a couple of eggs in it. Bake it until the white is solid and shave a lot of truffle on top, it’s wonderful.
It sounds very simple.
All the good things are always simple. You see the perfume that comes out when you break the yolk. Accompanied by good bread, that’s it. My domain is MOF MOF, minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour. It’s simplicity, the importance of the ingredients shouldn’t be crucified.
Is truffle oil an adequate substitute?
It is a concentrated essence of truffle. Not all the time you know how it has been achieved, sometimes chemicals sometimes not. The most important thing is to know the vendor. Even for oil like this, never use it in quantity, it becomes too much, it’s too intensive.
How do Australian truffles compare to European ones?
The industry is receiving it very well, also because it’s a novelty. They love this truffle because of the identity that it represents. I observe it as something fantastic. I’m very curious to see what the industry has done.
You visit Australia regularly, what do you like about it?
The people, the atmosphere. The gentleness of the people, some say not but they are and they’re always jolly and that’s very good.