There’s a Houston woman named Jeanne DeBell Polocheck, who is known locally as The Truffle Lady. This is because Jeanne imports fresh truffles weekly when they’re in season, and sells them to local restaurants and lucky individuals. The truffles come from Les Pastras Organic Farm, an organic olive farm in the village of Cadanet in Provence. Jeanne sells the truffles, as well as truffle salt, truffle oil, truffle honey, organic olive oil, and a few other items she imports from France, through her Facebook page The French Market, and also at the Memorial Villages Farmers Market.
Before the black winter truffle season ends, I splurged and bought a 45-gram order of 3 truffles. They don’t come cheap — this order was $80.
I always thought truffles were sniffed out by pigs, but the farm uses dogs to hunt truffles. These are the cuties that found my truffles, Éclair and Mirabelle:
I would appreciate it if my dogs, Jasper and Maisy, would get off their backs and go find me some truffles:
The truffles are only good for about 10 days, and storing them in a jar of rice in the refrigerator helps keep them fresh as long as possible. (The truffle-scented rice is a treat for another day).
I am fascinated by my truffles. They’re like pets. I take the jar out, open the lid, and inhale deeply pretty much every time I open the refrigerator. I almost hate to use my truffles. But, of course, I do. Jeanne advised me that they need a base of fat and salt to bring out their flavor. Say no more.
I don’t like to make elaborate dishes with my truffles. I prefer simpler uses. One way I particularly enjoy them is over scrambled eggs (scrambled, of course, in a generous amount of butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper).
Mine, all mine.
Our favorite way to enjoy them, however, is shaved over buttered baked potatoes, preferably Mountain King Butter Golds (these are, incidentally, the best potatoes we have ever had — family is still talking about them from Thanksgiving. Watch for them.).
It’s nice to have a truffle shaver, although a sharp paring knife will work to cut thin slices from the truffle.
I promise you, a buttered, sea salted, truffled baked potato is a special indulgence that you will not soon forget.
I shared one of my precious truffles with my friend Susan, and she sent me this quote from a feature on The Huffington Post (which also gathered some great-sounding truffle recipes) — “It’s a crazy world out there, and you never know what will happen. One day, you could be minding your own business and suddenly be presented with an opportunity to buy a real black truffle. . . . If you can afford to, you should absolutely do it this one time, so that you can experience what black truffles really taste and smell like. Oh, you’ve had truffle oil? Forget everything you think you know about that and dive into the real thing.” Excellent advice!
The season for black winter truffles is just about over. It won’t be too long, though, before summer truffles come into season. Milder in flavor, and about half the price of winter truffles, they are nice too, and fun to play around with (truffle ice cream was quite popular with Jeanne and her friends last summer). But be warned, they are gateway truffles, and soon you’ll be craving the hard stuff (i.e., black winter truffles).