Known around the world as the "Black Diamond," "White Diamond," "Black Pearl," "Fragrant Nugget" and many other names, truffles are truly one of nature's miracles. Truffles have long been adored by chefs and food lovers as one of the world's greatest delicacies. They possess a unique earthy flavor that truly must be experienced to be understood.
Premium truffles are found mostly in France, Spain and Italy. Preferring a warm climate, free of frost and sheltered from summer storms, truffles develop in the root system of certain trees, primarily oaks and hazelnut trees and occasionally certain pines, willows, chestnuts, beech, red alder and poplars. Since truffles grow as much as one foot below ground, the trained nose of a pig or dog must discover them. Dogs are more commonly used for truffle hunting today, as they can be more easily trained to find the truffles and not eat them.
Black truffles are black or dark brown on the exterior and marbled with white veins on the interior. They are best when cooked, because the flavor of the truffles intensifies with heat. Small shavings or strips can be added to sauces and other savory dishes. White truffles are creamy white to tan, sometimes with a reddish tone, and have a heavenly aroma. Those trufflesÊare best served raw because the intense flavor and fragrance are lost during the cooking process. Shave raw white truffles onto pasta, risotto, potatoes, eggs or sauces, or with poultry or other white meats, such as rabbit or veal. White truffles also pair well with hard Italian cheeses, prosciutto, salami and foie gras.