Trish Deseine on The Black Stuff

According to food editor TRISH DESEINE a black truffle is the best Christmas present a curious food lover could give, and receive …


As a footnote to last issue’s musings on luxury and its uses, I wanted to coax you, perhaps, into trying something new. I’m talking about truffles, and in particular black truffles.

Black Truffles are fully in season from December through to February. Depending on weather conditions in France and Italy. The good news is that Redmond Fine Foods, who supply the cream of Irish restaurants, make them available to the general public through Higgins Butchers and Fallon and Byrne in Dublin. In season Redmond FF receive weekly deliveries direct from growers so you can be sure of the impeccable origins and freshness.

Prices range from three to four thousand euros a kilo early December. But for around €100, a powerful 30g to 50g truffle – that’s the size of a big Brussel sprout or walnut – can add magical flavour to an entire meal for 6 to 8 people. It’s fine grating it over finished dishes, as I suggest for the leek and potato galette, but if you don’t use quite a lot, often the best hit (and it’s still very pleasant!) will be the one you get as its aroma travels from the grater to your nose.

Truffles love cream, eggs and butter. It is in these substances, slightly warmed, that they express their earthy personalities best. So why not order a 30 – 50g Melanosporum (of a superior quality to the more common ‘Brumale’) from Higgins or Fallon and Byrne this year, keep half for the galette, or some really good eggy pasta or jerusalem artichoke soup, or risotto, and use the other half to flavour some good quality butter? Just soften the butter and grate in the truffle. Season if the butter is unsalted, mix with a fork, wrap in clingfilm and chill until use. Put it under the skin of your turkey, or dabbed on top of pan seared scallop, or on warmed sourdough or brioche with caviar or fresh oysters. It’s the best Christmas present a curious food lover could give, and receive!

Fallon and Byrne. 11- 17 Exchequer Street, Dublin, 01 4721010

Higgins Butchers. 2 Sutton Cross, Burrow, Sutton, Co Dublin, 01 839 0090

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