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Truffle Season is Almost Upon Us

Posted on 2008/01/10 22:16:14 (January 2008).

[Sunday 6th January]
In a similar vein to yesterday I had another lazy morning and early afternoon, Chie went out shopping and left me to my own devices again, with the vague plan that we might meet up a bit later on. I ventured out around 3:30 as I had a sudden desire to buy truffles - a bit of research on the web suggested we might now be entering the season. So I popped in to Fortnum and Mason, but it seems I was a bit early - although they said they would be getting some in next week. I'm a bit confused about when exactly truffle season is - one article on the web suggested F&M had British truffles in stock, which was rather an exciting prospect, but that seemed to be dated in Autumn last year, so presumably the British truffle season isn't the same as the French one. I'm only dimly aware of when the French truffle season is as just by chance I was in Paris in February a couple of years ago (see here) and on wandering into Fauchon was delighted to see a big pile of fresh truffles for sale - such a rare sight here in England.

So anyway, I left empty handed today, but will be checking assorted outlets in London regularly over the coming weeks.

I wandered around somewhat aimlessly after leaving F&M, and realised I had no other reason to be in the centre of London. Eventually I decided I ought to just buy things for dinner and go home. In the aftermath of my failed truffle buying attempt I was still in a distinctly gourmet-ish frame of mind, and so ambled into the Waitrose in the basement of the John Lewis on Oxford Street to see what they might tempt me with. I had the vague design to make some kind of stew or hot pot, and was looking for some interesting vegetables etcetera to go in it. I settled on some fresh beetroot, some large flat cap mushrooms (we really need to get some more interesting varieties on a regular basis in British supermarkets), some Shetland black potatoes, a couple of echallion shallots and a jar of capers.

I then headed home to make the aforementioned stew, leaving Chie to finish off her shopping in the centre. I guess the end result was OK, but not quite the gastronomic delight I was hoping for.

I blame the lack of interesting mushrooms available in this country - supermarkets habitually only ever have plain white mushrooms (yawn), chestnut mushrooms (slightly better, but still not that exciting), perhaps the odd portabella and then an annoying selection of disappointing "oriental" mushrooms including the uber-crap floppy slimy oyster mushrooms. OK, admittedly the more interesting shiitake (and some other Japanese mushrooms like shimeji on occasion) are becoming more commonly available in supermarkets, and do actually have some flavour, but I don't think they are really that well suited to European dishes. I want to find morels, girolles, chanterlles, ceps (aka porcini), blewitts - perhaps even the odd fresh truffle. I suppose this is at least one compelling reason to not shop in supermarkets - at least here in London there are conventional markets where these items are seasonly available - albeit at a eyewateringly high price sometimes!

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