The Dark Spaniard

by Sasha Dorey

At the beginning of last year I travelled to Spain for a very special,instructive and gastronomical truffle tour around Catalunya,led by Marcos Murcillo and Xavier Vilanova. Along with a group of truffle growers from around the world we toured Spain’s most productive truffle orchards, learning their techniques for success and watching the dogs and hunters at work. We spent mornings in the class room learning from the experts then jaunted off to top class restaurants which specialised in black ( melanosporum ) truffle dishes. It was the most amazing experience and a wonderful combination of learning, exploration and good fun. Right at the end of this year’s season I treated myself to a small Spanish black truffle from Wiltshire Truffles who not only produce their own truffles here in the UK but now import from Spain,Italy and Australia. I wanted a reminder of the taste which is quite different to our own Autumn variety ( uncinatum ) . It has a stronger more musky flavour so can be paired with more robust flavours .

Truffles are a great match for cheese. I have tasted many truffle cheeses but nearly all have added “aroma” which is fake truffle flavouring .The only one I know for sure had no flavouring was made here in the UK by Vickie Ward,a brilliant, ethical cheesemaker. So I prefer to add fresh truffles to various cheeses. Our own Autumn truffles work well with more delicate cheeses, especially mild sheep and goat varieties . But this strong, musty Spaniard can hold his own with a more pungent cheese like Epoisses which is especially good when gently heated.
And a truffle toastie was spectacular with a glass of Amontillado ( sherry is a good match for this truffle )This could be a business .

Panna cotta was a tremendous surprise as the big hit of dark truffle mingled in harmony with the delicate vanilla like a marriage.