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Truffles: The best pickings
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Autumn is truffle season in Europe. Hungry for more knowledge of these infamous fungi we caught up with two Michelin-starred Chef Norbert Niederkofler who shared his knowledge of this highly prized food.

Mushroom and truffle fettuccine

What makes a good truffle?

Firstly the freshness of the truffle is very important and usually the truffles from the cold season are better as the taste is more concentrated.

Which is your favourite variety?

The best for me is the white truffle from Alba, as well as the black truffle from Norcia – those are for me the best quality truffles.

Which country or region are your preferred choice for truffles?

White Alba truffle from Piedmont – you can find a lot of other white truffles elsewhere, such as in Molise, Tuscany, Istria and Croatia, but the white truffles from Alba are unique in taste, colour and smell. I would say the best black truffles from Italy are Nero di Norcia from Umbria, which are black with some light red and have a very strong earthy taste.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever made with truffles?

Cucumber gelée with kumamoto oyster and white truffle  – strange, but a great combination. However, I think that one of the best dishes is tagliolini with white truffle.

How should you use truffles when cooking?

I will only include truffle on my menus and serve them if there are fresh truffles available… white truffle should never be cooked – the best way to use them is to put the truffle onto dishes such as pasta or risotto in front of the guest, so that they may see it and enjoy the strong smell also. When using black truffles it depends – they can also be used warm, for example in sauces, or you can also stuff some products with black truffle, such as chicken. However, it is also very good just shaved on the table, depending on the truffles’ freshness. For me, black truffles and white truffles are two different products – each of them has their place and it is always very important with what else you use with them. Because truffles are so expensive you really have to make sure that you make the most out of using them.

 

Norbert NiederkoflerNorbert Niederkofler

Chef Norbert Niederkofler is Executive Chef at Restaurant St. Hubertus in Rosa Alpina Hotel in the Italian Dolomites.  Norbert’s culinary roots can be traced back to his father in the Valle Aurina, a small valley in the province of Bolzano, where he developed a love of home cooking using local quality products. Inspired by the mountains, his cuisine follows Italian tradition, with Austrian influences from the South Tyrol. He is renowned for techniques designed to respect the ingredients he uses and get the best out of it without altering its true nature.

 

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