Black Summer Truffles

amiamo il tartufo, originally uploaded by Firenze&Boboli.

Those of you who missed the fabulous fashion show last night will still be able to enjoy the new truffle flavour I've just invented and included in half of the goody bags (in the silvery sachets): Black Summer Truffle!*

The idea came to me when I discovered black summer truffle flavoured salt from Maison Coté.
This gourmet sea salt contains 3% dried black summer truffles, and 1% of truffle flavour.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge truffle fan. I like the scent, which is unusual, musky, earthy and heady. But as an aroma and flavour it's a bit much. So I used just a pinch of the salt in the truffles, and mellowed it with earthy wild mushroom absolute (aka Porcini or Cèpes). And to make a good thing even better - a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream!

Midsummer Tea Party will take place August 8th. Reservation is required for attending as space is limited. I hope to see you among my guests!

*The other half, in the golden sachets, were filled with orange blossom truffles - some were Guilt and some were Saffron Robe (I like variety when I need to roll hundreds of truffles!).

The Distrubing Truth about Truffle Oils

"I can't taste the potion!", originally uploaded by oatmeal2000.

Well, you might be able to taste that potion, but it's not the real thing: Apparently, the truffle oils in the market have very little to do with truffles. They are made of olive oil "infused" with 2,4-dithiapentane, according to Daniel Patterson's article in the New York Times.

If you find this puzzling and unsettling, you are not alone. Truffle oil was mentioned many times in Daniel Patterson's and Mandy Aftel's book Aroma (about using essential oils in the kitchen, which included recipes for both food and perfumes). I am sure it took a lot of guts as well as a good healthy dose of honesty, modesty and integrity for Patterson to publish this article. After all, he wrote the above mentioned book, with a whole chapter dedicated to recipes using truffle oils (p. 134-139).

I felt very awkward about this discovery. I have just published here a couple of recipes of my own using truffle oils. I am going to need to "take them back" in the sense that I cannot stand behind this material as a natural one (unless you choose to infuse the truffles yourself, which is what I am planning on doing from now on for my personal use).

This got to show us how deep the aroma chemical industry has penetrated our culture. We can't even know for sure if what we use in our food is natural or not?!

The truffle oil I got was not particularly cheap either, at $16.95 per a 1.8oz (55ml) bottle. There is a slight difference in the labeling between the white and the black ones though:

Black Truffle Oil is called "Fine Olive Oil with Black Winter Truffle Essences" and the ingredients lists "Olive oil, black winter truffles aroma (Tuber Melanosporum vitt)."

The White Truffle Oil is labeled similarly as "Fine Olive Oil with White Truffle Oil" yet the ingredients do not specify the Latin name of the species. It reads "Olive oil, white truffless aroma".

Above the ingredient list for each of the bottles, they say "Olive Oil Infused with Black/White Truffles", which to me would imply that the truffles were steeped in the oil to infuse it with their aroma... According to Patterson, this is a lie and a true truffle oil is not available. It is simply olive oil "infused" with man-made aromachemicals.
Both oils that I have were made in Italy, and the brand is URBANI TARTUFI.

We are getting deeper into issues of truth in labeling, and the ability of consumers to make a truly informed decisions about what they spend their money on, what they put into their food, and what enters their bodies. In a time where perfume manufacturers are required to list all suspected allergens on the packaging, it is more than alarming that the same standards would not go the other way - making clear labeling when the flavour materials are in fact completely synthetic!

Vetiver Truffle

My last experiment with vetiver was actually a solid perfume. I was so smitten with my Vetiver Rouge, that I wanted to turn it into a crème parfum. But I also really loved the coffee & vetiver accord, so I decided to use some coffee oil in the formula. In that sense, there is nothing new in this particular vetiver, except for merging Vetiver Rouge with Vetiver Noir. Bear with me for a few more lines and you’ll see what’s new in this particular vetiver rendition.

I usually use a base of jojoba oil and raw beeswax (the unbleached one, which still retains the lovely honey and pollen notes, and adds a new dimension to the final product). This time, I decided to do something a bit different: This time, for my vetiver solid perfume, I decided to use a completely different base oil: Black Truffle Oil!

Black Truffle Oil is an infusion of the rare fungi into olive oil. So you see, the base oil is actually an olive oil. The result is a slightly different texture – a bit lighter, and more like an unguent. The black truffle note is very tenacious – earthy, dirty and sensual. Along with the subtle honey notes, the tarragon, coffee and 5 types of artisanal vetiver oils (including the Ruhs from India) this is definitely a different vetiver from what I’ve smelled before. I may even be tempted to turn it into a parfum oil, with a base oil made of a combination of Black Truffle Oil and jojoba oil.
Thinking about it - that would be much easier to pack as a sample and share with you as well. The reason why I didn't think of it before completely escapes me...

This vetiver entry closes this cycle of vetiver posts. I love vetiver, so I won’t be surprised to come back to it later. But for now, I need my vetiver ideas to be brewing on low heat, until the right ideas will bubble up to the surface…

* The silver box above, containing the vetiver solid perfume is an ethnic Moroccan piece given to me by my X in-laws when they came back from Morocco years ago. Isn't it lovely?

** If you wish to try Vetiver Truffle, or any of the previous four vetivers (Wilde Vetyver, Vetiver Blanc, Vetiver Noir and Vetiver Rouge) samples can be obtained via email. The price is the same for all my other samples ($5.99 plus shipping). If you order all four, you will also get a free sample of the solid vetiver perfume (to be announced here tomorrow).
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