For a foodie always on a mission to maximize her (and her companion’s) eating pleasure, Valentine’s Day presents a special challenge. The question is: how do you hit a new high and top last year’s memory?
Inspired by Peter Mayle and his book “A Year in Provence”, I got my hands on a couple of fresh black winter truffles. We decided to do our celebratory dinner early, as around Valentine’s, we will be dancing Argentine tango around the clock and noshing in Portland, Oregon.
The truth is, I had never cooked with fresh truffles before. Truffle salt, yes. Truffle oil, yes. But not with fresh truffles. I felt it was time to indulge in “the luxury of grands seigneurs and kept women”, as Brillat-Saverin described it back in the day. He is also the guy who nicknamed truffles “black diamonds”, as the prices are “très sérieux”: a 1oz truffle can set you back anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on its origin. Luckily, this is all you need to pull off a truffle menu for two (and a small pairing knife, which I found more handy than other slicers and mandolines).
Besides, fresh truffles are only appropriate, as pigs are considered the most effective detectors of truffles (much better than dogs). You see, according to Peter Mayle, the pig is born with a fondness for the taste. The pig instinctively seeks out truffles; the only problem is that it is not content with just finding the truffle; it wants to eat it. My favorite quote from “A Year in Provence” is, “Anyone who has tried to reason with a pig on the brink of gastronomic ecstasy will tell you he is not easily distracted”. Sounds familiar? 🙂
And so, “rigid with porcine determination”, I cancelled all evening plans, and started working on a theme. I finally decided on “casual minimalist with a twist”.
Here is our Valentine’s truffle menu:
Truffle salad with frisee, haricots verts, tarragon, endives, fennel (with truffle sea salt, Meyer lemon juice, and white truffle oil)
Truffle sandwiches (well, actually, more like canapés) on sourdough with European style butter and truffle sea salt
Fresh WholeFoods-brand asparagus & fontina ravioli with truffles, truffle butter, and truffle sea salt
Seared scallops with truffles and truffle butter on a bed of celeriac root & potato puree (made with truffle butter, cream, and truffle sea salt) (pictured at the top)
And for dessert – you guessed it – fabulous sea salt caramel Christopher Elbow truffles purchased from Cocova (formerly known as Biagio Fine Chocolates).