I love truffles, as you may know from a previous post. I've been using white and black truffle oil for years to perk up mushroom pastas and soups and anything else that could use a dash of decadent heady flavour of truffle oil. While I've never been fooled that these products would replace the glories that are genuine wild truffles, they have a flavour all their own that has its place in the kitchen when used thoughtfully and with restraint. Restraint being the key word. Too much truffle oil on anything is not a good thing. Unlike too much truffles in something, which isn't possible! So given my interest in this flavour it made sense that when in Seattle's Pike Place Market I would sniff my way into a little truffle shop, La Buona Tavola. To be honest though, most of the products in there I'm not interested in, aside from any fresh Italian truffles they might sometimes have in the cooler. When a woman tried to sell me a very expensive jar of truffle flavoured salt I automatically put my salesperson defenses on. I quickly realized that of all the products on the shelves, this was the only one she wanted to make sure I knew about and she seemed pretty persistent that this was an important culinary secret ingredient. Call me gullible, call me hungry, but I started to become convinced and I plunked down $18US for 100g of truffle infused salt. I left, wondering if I'd been had.
The first time I opened it I was surprised at the truffle aroma that came out of the jar. There was no hint of artificial truffle flavours and in fact is generous with truffle bits. I made creamy French style scrambled eggs and since at the time fresh truffles were out of the question, I would use this as not an alternative but a reminder of truffled scrambled eggs. That dish with a healthy dose of truffle salt and just a drop of black truffle oil, instantly transported me. Truffles and scrambled eggs are one of the worlds most perfect dishes and for me the best way to enjoy a truffle if you ever have the opportunity.
I find myself using this salt quite a lot. Anything with mushrooms gets this salt in it and especially cream sauces or beurre blancs the truffle flavour does indeed come through. The best use so far I've enjoyed has been sprinkling it on homemade crackers and simple crostini. So luxurious yet you need so little. And while some of you purists out there will think me crazy, I really think this stuff is destined for a bowl of popcorn!
One last word on this salt. It's expensive. But keep in mind it is salt, which means you don't use very much per application. Unlike flavoured oils or vinegars that lost their flavour quite quickly, salts do not behave the same way and will retain their flavour for years to come. I've been using the same jar for a year and a half it's still got plenty in it, and I use it regularly, so that initial $20 has gone far.
This salt takes a little work to find, although with the internet these days no specialty product is far away. Head to your local gourmet specialty store or perhaps a good Italian shop and you'll probably be able to find it.If you live in the Vancouver area it is available at The Gourmet Warehouse and Meinhardt's. For those of you coming from the state's La Buona Tavola does mail order.