Cooking at home with white truffles

One of the joys in life is cooking and sharing a beautiful meal with others.  There’s really nothing better than cooking and eating at home with good company while listening to music at whatever volume you want, at whatever time you want, and in whatever clothes you want.  All of the extra money that is usually spent on jacked up restaurant prices, extra tips that many servers usually don’t deserve anyway, and outrageous valet parking fees can be better spent on a good bottle of port for the post meal bliss.  And when you want to cook with white truffles, then for sure it’s a treat to do so in your own kitchen.

Being a doctor I am usually cool, calm and collected, but when my good friend Haru, sous chef at the Gordon Ramsay, showed up in my kitchen with a humongous lump of white truffle, I nearly lost it.  Behold the white diamond of all fungi, the holy radiant mother of all delicacies.  This enormous jewel of the earth was so powerful, that I could smell its intense perfume from the balcony.  The cross section of the truffle was practically as big as the palm of my hand, and I could really see the fine reticulated patterns on the fungus.  What was the best way to appreciate this beautiful treasure?  A simple risotto and salad.

I love the sounds of an active home kitchen: the soft blunted rhythmic taps of a knife against a wooden cutting board, the high pitched clicking of the stovetop gas ignitor followed by the quick tenor burst of flame, the gushing sound of water from the faucet filling the large pot, the pop of the wine cork succeeded by the glop glop glop of wine being poured into glasses, and the clanging of glass bowls and steel pots.  It’s really the only time that I can ever be in a peaceful zen state where my mind is clean and my heart is pure.

I left the risotto making to my friend, as this was too special of an occasion to screw it up.  ‘You need to really understand the rice in order to cook a good risotto with the perfect consistency’, he said, as he effortlessly did so with experienced hands.

It was quite amazing to watch my friend as he carefully tended to the risotto. After the initial toasting process with melted butter, he was in a synchronous biofeedback with the risotto, knowing exactly how much liquid the Arborio rice needed at what stage of the cooking process.  Grana Padano and Parmigiano cheese added the perfect amount of creaminess and saltiness to the risotto, and it was cooked to a perfect consistency.

Meanwhile, on the northeast end of the stovetop, chopped bacon bits were quietly sizzling away in the pot, releasing a pungent smokey aroma into the air that woke my two cats out of a deep sleep.

Boiled asparagus stalks were assembled on the plates along with the crispy bacon bits and spinach leaves, and topped with a soft boiled egg.  A very simple olive oil vinaigrette was used to lightly dress the salad.  The creamy risotto, which was already delicious and restaurant worthy in this virgin state, was also plated.  Both were ready to be glammed up with a little bling-bling.

Here came the crowning moment, as my friend adjusted the screws on the truffle slicer to the perfect thickness.  I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing in my own kitchen- generous amounts of long delicate white truffle shavings, releasing that distinct earthy aroma with every slice against the sharp blade, being haphazardly strewn all over the plates as if it didn’t cost anything at all.

The egg in the salad dish was cooked to a perfect consistency, and the warm thick yolk slowly oozed all over the asparagus stalks like active Kona volcanic lava.  In an otherwise perfect dish where the saltiness of the bacon and the vinaigrette-dressed leaves added zing to the savory protein, these delectable white truffles elevated the experience by an unmeasurable magnitude.

I’ve had white truffle risotto at restaurants before, and for those of you who also have, I think you can agree with me that they never give you enough truffle shavings for the $50-100 that you pay.  This was the most extravagant plate of delicious white truffle risotto that I have ever had in my life, and of all places, in the comfort of my warm and cozy home.  The generous heap of truffles was so immense that I had the luxury of eating a whole long truffle shaving for each decadent bite.  This was just an exquisite and heavenly dish, perfect in every way, and will be ingrained into my culinary memory forever.

Delicious white truffle extravaganza at home- a typical weeknight affair.  Pas mal!

Random trivia:  Did you know that truffles, often found 2- 15 inches below the ground, are the only subterranean (underground) fungi on our planet? Also, among 70 species of truffles, only 7 are edible- so don’t get excited if you find something in your backyard that looks similar.

I conclude with a quote from Alexandre Dumas, French writer and author of The Three Musketeers:

“The most learned men have been questioned as to the nature of this tuber, and after two thousand years of argument and discussion their answer is the same as it was on the first day: we do not know.  The truffles themselves have been interrogated, and have answered simply: eat us and praise the Lord.”

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