I frequently use extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in my cooking. Italian delicacies such as truffles and funghi porcini mushrooms are generally used only on special occasions.
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
Unless you are fortunate enough to be in Italy during the mushroom season, it is difficult to find fresh porcini mushrooms. Dried porcini mushrooms tend to be sourced from other countries.
In fact, one experienced Italian producer told me that “it is impossible to find funghi porcini in sufficient quantity in Italy to be commercially viable. We import our mushrooms from eastern Europe and dehydrate and prepare them in Italy to our exacting quality standards. Anyone who tells you that dried porcini mushrooms are from Italy are lying.”
In any event, Marcella Hazan extols the virtues of dehydrated porcini mushrooms in her wonderful “Marcella’s Guide to the Market,” entitled Ingredienti. Read more about porcini mushrooms and then try them in some of our favorite porcini mushroom recipes.
Black Summer Truffles
So much has been written about the unique flavor of truffles, which Wikipedia describes as “the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus, predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber.”
I once made the mistake of leaving some sottocenere al tartufo cheese on the counter overnight and my house was infused with the smell of truffles. Conclusion: A little truffle goes a long way!
While opinions differ, fresh truffles last approximately 14 days if stored in ideal conditions (please, no rice!). As Marcella Hazan points out in Ingredienti, the only desirable characteristic of a truffle is its aroma. Unless you can afford to dine on expensive truffles in season, dehydrated truffles or truffle slices preserved in extra virgin olive oil are the next best thing.
To learn more about truffles CLICK HERE or sample some of our favorite truffle recipes.
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