I wake up every now and then and find myself in the most unexpected of circumstances, most recently black winter truffle hunting in the region of Somontano in northern Spain. Traveling through Spain as a guest of Gonzalez Byass, a wine group that owns properties throughout Spain, we visited their Secastilla vineyard in the northern most part of Somontano, set at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. This is Spain’s Piedmonte, and the perfect setting for both growing mineral rich Garnacha based wine in very stony, high elevation soils and winter time truffle hunting. After a snow and sleet filed day of hunting with our guide and his trusted dog, Teo, my group was treated to a lavish truffle dinner, featuring the truffles we found on our hunt, at the beautiful Bodega Blecua Estate, the top tier of the three wineries the company has in the region. Every minute of the evening was truffle filled, from the stunning amuse bouche, featured here, to a dessert truffle infused cotton candy.
I will feature a few other dishes inspired from this dinner soon, but this one is a must as upon my return to Dallas, creating a late Valentine’s Day dinner for a few friends, I found whole black truffles resting beside King and Chantrelle mushrooms at my local Central Market. Truffle paste, or even very sparingly used, truffle oil can work for risotto and mac and cheese, but for this special palate pleaser to prep you for a big truffle night, a whole truffle is needed. When I had the dish in Spain they used an impeccably rich, very clear stock made from a fattened hen….I used the highest quality chicken stock I could find, reducing it a bit to really concentrate the flavor. We paired it the other evening with a dry, herbaceous and slightly floral Fino Sherry from Gonzalez Byass, Tio Pepe, the night of the dinner we enjoyed a lively, floral and still very fresh 2001 Gewürztraminer from Blecua’s sister winery, Vinas Del Vero.
Black Truffle Amuse
1 2 ounce black winter truffle, shaved into very thin slices, preferably with a truffle shaver or mandolin
6 cups good quality chicken stock or homemade chicken broth
Additional items –
8 white wine glasses with stems
The presentation of this amuse is as special as the actual broth, so going through the whole process makes the dish complete. Bring the stock to a low boil and reduce it by about a cup – cup and a half to concentrate the chicken flavor. Carefully lay two or three slivers of the truffle in the bottom of each wine glass. Pour the stock into the tea pot. Present a wine glass to each of your guests and have them enjoy the aroma of just the truffle on its own. Then carefully pour the hot broth over the truffle in the glass, filling each glass half way up. Have guest once again savor the aroma of the truffle, now with the stock, gently swirling the broth around in the glass. Then, carefully, sip the amuse enjoying the flavor and awakening the palate.