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Buried Treasure: Food Fans Rejoice! It’s Truffle Season

truffles

Photo of black truffles by Luri / Shutterstock.com.

In the preface to “The Physiology of Taste,” published in 1825, renowned gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin wrote, “Whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas.” It’s true that the truffle—what he also called the “diamond of the kitchen”—is at the very top of the fungus food chain.

Digging in the Dirt

truffles

Photo of truffle slicer by Luri / Shutterstock.com.

Truffles grow underground around the roots of oak, hazelnut, beech and poplar trees, and while many attempts have been made to “seed” or farm them, they mostly occur naturally. Thus they are considered rare, and becoming more so as countryside gives way to urban planning. Traditionally, the two most highly prized varieties of these edible tubers come from Italy and France, and they’re hunted using the sensitive noses of trained dogs and pigs. Italy’s Piedmont region produces the more expensive, aromatic and delicate white truffle—harvested in autumn and sold at a massive fair in Alba in October and November. France’s Périgord province generates the black truffle— late-fall and winter crop.

If there were ever a food item not to judge by appearance alone, it would certainly be the truffle. Lumpy, cream- or brown-hued, and sometimes marbled, white truffles can appear like uncut, unpolished gemstones. Black truffles resemble lumps of coal from the outside and are often white-veined on the inside. It’s the flavor that’s captivating, both earthy and ethereal. And the prices are breathtaking: One of the largest white truffles on record (about 3.3 pounds) sold at auction for $330,000 back in 2007.

While both white and black truffles are costly, with the price dictated by demand, parings of these uber tubers can go a long way, as they’re utilized to create truly captivating dishes, like this season’s truffle-infused plates.

RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY

guy savoy soup

Artichoke and Black truffle Soup at Restaurant Guy Savoy.

If anyone knows how to best utilize the truffle, it’s French master chef Guy Savoy. The signature dish coming from his Caesars Palace restaurant is the silky Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup topped with shaved Parmesan cheese, and served with toasted mushroom brioche and black-truffle butter. It’s a decadent dish Savoy has been serving at his restaurants for more than 30 years.

SUSHI ROKU

sushi roku avocado hanabi

Photo of “Hanabi” courtesy of Sushi Roku.

Diners will find a truffle-heavy menu at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace restaurant. Chefs infuse truffle
into numerous dishes including brussels-sprout chips, tuna tartare and Chilean seabass. Two new fall dishes grace the menu: a bamboo-rice risotto served with shrimp, scallops and truffles, and the Avocado “Hanabi” with soy truffle and crispy rice.

GUY FIERI’S VEGAS KITCHEN & BAR

The spiky-haired Food Network chef is known for the Triple-T fries he serves up at The LINQ Hotel & Casino. These julienne fries are tossed with black-truffle oil, truffle-infused Gouda cheese and a creamy white-truffle dip.

GORDON RAMSAY

Menus at Gordon Ramsay’s five Las Vegas restaurants are dotted with truffle dishes. Scour them and you’ll find earthy truffle Parmesan fries and fingerling potatoes, as well as a mouthwatering American Wagyu Carpaccio with a truffle salsa. Over at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace, he’s serving a smoked salmon toast with truffle cream cheese, and a pan-roasted chicken with truffled white bean and parsnip cassoulet.

It’s Truffle Season!

White Truffles (Tuber Magnatum)
Found in Italy’s Piedmont region
Harvested in autumn

Black Truffles (Tuber Melanosporum)
Grown in France’s Périgord province
Harvested in late autumn and early winter

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