My most rewarding and memorable days are always spent in local markets with our guests – from Helsinki to Istanbul, Hobart to Tortola, Athens to Amsterdam. There is so much to be learned in these markets (and from these farmers) about the seasonality of food, and the joy of travel for many of our guests is learning the authentic cuisine, ingredients, wines, food traditions and culinary techniques of the places we travel.
On a recent Culinary Discovery Tour in Slovenia, we had the chance to observe an authentic truffle hunt for their prized spring black truffle. The handler – and his dogs – were informative hosts, showing us the base of the trees where the truffles grow beneath the surface (like underground fungus). The dogs sniff out the truffle and the handler delicately removes it with a special shovel.
Guests frequently ask me if they should buy truffle oil when we visit markets in the north of Italy, south of France and here in Slovenia. Unfortunately, I have to tell them no because truffle oil is actually a perfumed oil and contains no truffles. With the exception of a few artisans, truffle oil is no more than a mid-grade oil with a compound called 2,4 dithiapentane added to produce the aroma of the truffle.
As a chef, my inclination is to encourage our guests to refrain from the truffle oil and taste a fresh truffle when in season (at your favorite restaurant or online seasonally at D’Artagnan). Fresh truffles are typically shaved with a truffle slicer into paper thin shavings and placed on top of carpaccio, risotto, pasta and my personal favorite, scrambled eggs.
If you are fortunate enough to purchase a white truffle in season, here’s my recipe for a decadent midnight supper. Since my birthday is during white Alba truffle season, these eggs have become a tradition for me! This year to make it a true Oceania Cruises moment, I’ll pair my eggs with a glass of Silver Trident Cabernet.
CHEF KELLY’S HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH HERBS & WHITE TRUFFLE FOR TWO
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 farm fresh eggs, mixed but not whipped
1 teaspoon freshly snipped chives
Freshly ground white pepper
1 white truffle
In a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When butter is melted, pan is at medium heat and eggs are room temperature, add the eggs.
Stirring constantly with your favorite wooden spoon on medium heat, cook the eggs. Be careful not to let the eggs set, continually stirring. When eggs start to solidify, add the chives. Keep stirring.
Be careful not to overcook the eggs. They should be creamy and just curdled. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and white pepper to your taste. Shave just a few truffle sliced on top – remember that white truffle are quite strong. (Save your remaining truffle to shave over risotto!). Enjoy!