It’s Truffle Time!
Take 3000 eggs, 3 kilos of truffles, 10 litres of olive oil, and a big pail of cream. That was the recipe of the day at the Truffle Fair in Uzès yesterday, and although it sounds rather plain, it made a delicious snack for 1500 or so people. As you might imagine, this is cooking on a rather large scale, and requires the assistance of a fork lift and several burly chefs with long-handled wooden shovels.
Want to know how it’s done? First you’ve got to get your truffles. Yesterday they were expensive, but then, aren’t they always?
Under the shadowy arcades of the town’s main plaza, the black diamond vendors spread their wares. Only the melanosporum or Perigord truffles were for sale, 1000 Euros a kilo was the going rate, and the sellers kept a sharp eye as the tightly packed crowd sniffed the truffles in the dim and musky light. I bought the three little treasures pictured up top and tucked them deep in my bag, safe from truffle-nabbers.
Meanwhile, out in the open, the cooking is about to get underway.
While waiting for the fire to burn down to an egg-friendly temperature, the fork lift hoists the giant pan, ready to set it over the coals.
The chefs strategize and steel themselves for their upcoming labors.
The coals are judged to be perfect and the frying pan meets the fire.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have eggs! It takes just about one hour to scramble 3000 eggs, and the chefs really get a workout.
Several times the forklift has to back the full pan off the fire to allow it to cool down, while the chefs scrape the bottom to keep the eggs from scorching.
Finally the eggs form a very soft curd
and the crowd gathers in close as the serving begins. It’s 6 Euros a portion, so we share a plate.
The eggs were incredibly soft and creamy, almost liquid, and very generously studded with truffles. Once we’d tasted the truffles we had to have more.
Since every restaurant was serving a truffle menu of some sort, and everyone in town was awaiting their turn to trufficate freely, we hung around under this bell tower until we were rewarded with this:
a truffle, arugula, and crème fraîche pizza, one of the best pizzas of my life.
So now I have three small truffles, and about 7 days to use them while they’re fresh. One I diced up and kneaded into a roll of good butter. That’s in the freezer and will happily melt onto food for some time to come. The other two are in the fridge, one sealed into a container of rice, the other is snuggled up with a few eggs. And now I’m contemplating what to do with them after they lend a bit of their flavor to the eggs and rice. There’s that leftover foie gras in the freezer, perhaps they’d all like to dance together. Or perhaps I’ll make a paté, or a risotto with the perfumed rice, or an intoxicating sauce for something special. Or should I just use them to make pizza?
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