Ingredient focus: white truffle vs black truffle

Caterer Middle East's ingredient of the month is truffle

Paolo Bellamio, head chef at Trattoria Toscana in Madinat Jumeirah.
Paolo Bellamio, head chef at Trattoria Toscana in Madinat Jumeirah.
Francesco Di Noia, Italian chef de cuisine at Alta Badia in Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Francesco Di Noia, Italian chef de cuisine at Alta Badia in Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

We get the low-down on using black truffle from Paolo Bellamio, head chef at Dubai's Trattoria Toscana, and white truffle from Francesco Di Noia, Italian chef de cuisine at Dubai's Alta Badia 

What’s great about black truffle?
People love truffles! In Dubai, truffles are considered the ultimate foodie’s treat. A truffle brings about an interesting flavour and aroma to a dish and, if it is prepared properly, can be one of the best things you eat.

How readily available is it in this region?
There are several different types of truffles, including the black truffles which come to harvest in early June, the white truffles — or as we say in Italy ‘the white diamonds of Italy’ — which are available from December, and then Bianchietti, found in the late Italian spring. Being here, we have to import them but there are number of Italian food importers readily available, so we are able to get them pretty easily.

What to look out for when buying this ingredient?
Freshness, aroma, colour and the smell, of course.

Challenges associated with using it?
A mistake with a truffle can cost you a fortune. It is an ingredient that needs to be handled with care, so it is important to know how to incorporate the ingredient into dish and, equally, how to prepare.

What’s the best way you’d use this ingredient?
A number of dishes with truffle are great, but a favourite is fresh egg pasta tagliolini with butter and truffle shaved on top.

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Francesco Di Noia, Italian chef de cuisine at Alta Badia, Jumeirah Emirates Towers

What’s great about white truffle?

The truffle is a gastronomic pearl. It is a product of the autumn / winter harvest season and really represents a culinary delicacy for this season. I look forward to truffle season every year.

How readily available is this ingredient in this region?
The regional Italian food suppliers are quite active in bringing in fresh ingredients into the UAE from throughout Italy. As truffles are from the Alba Piedmont region, restaurants have to import them. So although, it may take some time to get them in and then are not readily available at a local market, we are still able to get them rather quickly.

Things to look out for when buying it?
Proper smell and a solid texture.

Challenges associated with using this ingredient?
High cost – the cost for the truffles themselves and the import costs. As the cost is quite high, we consciously use the entire truffle in different cooking styles, so none of it is wasted. For examples, we start by shaving fresh truffle on particular dishes and then once a number of the shavings are off, we make truffle butter and oil.

Best way you’d recommend using this ingredient?
Freshly shaved on top of dishes. Adds a bit of luxury and richness to any dish.

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