Local truffles soon? Plus tips on how to store and prepare truffles, and an easy truffle soup recipe.

Is this the year? Black truffle season is upon us and there’s talk about Robert Sinskey’s truffle orchard, which was planted in 2010—the first in Napa county. Since then, a score of other vintners and growers have jumped on board. It typically takes 5-7 years for farmed truffles to produce and, according to mycologists and the noses of some trusty truffle dogs, all soil and scent indications for Sinskey’s orchard show positive signs of yielding. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, fresh black truffles continue to be imported every year from Europe. Most are snatched up by restaurants, but there are a few retail sources – you just need to know where to find them. In January, the sixth annual Napa Truffle Festival will be serving up truffle programs and dishes throughout the festival weekend, culminating in one big Marketplace at Oxbow Public Market where you can buy your very own black diamond.
To make the most of your truffle purchase, America’s top truffle chef Ken Frank of La Toque offers a few tips. (Ken has been serving his truffle menu for the past 33 years, longer than anyone else in America.)

First, it’s important to note that fresh truffles are highly perishable and have a half-life of 4-5 days. After 8-10 days, they lose 75% of their aroma and flavor. But you can have your truffle and eat it too. Store fresh truffles wrapped in paper towels with fresh eggs or covered butter in a well-sealed container for 24-48 hours. The truffle aroma will permeate and infuse the eggs and butter, which you can use to make fabulous, truffle-y scrambled eggs. Top with truffle shavings, pour yourself a glass of wine and there you are: truffle heaven!   NVL


Truffle Cappuccino Soup Recipe
By Chef Rick Tramonto

Serves: 4

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb brown and white button mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 C cream
2 oz black truffle, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter to finish
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
minced chives for garnish
shaved truffle for garnish
salt and pepper

In a pot over medium heat, melt together one tablespoon each olive oil and butter. Add 1/2 pound sliced brown and white button mushrooms with one large diced onion and cook until slightly browned. Add 1.5 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend until the mushrooms are smooth. Add 3/4 cups cream and bring back to a boil, then simmer and add chopped black truffles until it reaches a thick consistency. Whisk in one tablespoon unsalted butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, and garnish with minced chives, shaved truffles, and salt and pepper. Serve in a cappuccino cup and saucer.
Buon appetito!