We started today in the early morning by taking our prized hog out for a little ride to the local forest area. He’s a good hog. Lola has named him Merkin, and we have spent the last few years training him to seek out the distinct and wonderful aroma of wild truffles. Ever since we have decided to forage for our own food, Merkin has become quite an asset (and he also gives us a backup plan for bacon if needed). We walked through the woods this morning and at one point, Merkin got a little agitated and then started digging frantically at the base of a tree. Lo and behold, he had uncovered a supply of fresh truffles. The hard part at that moment is restraining a squealing hog from eating truffles before we can get them to safety. Our plan was to have Lola hold Merkin in a semi-wrestling move that resembles the “Sleeper” while I dig out the truffles as quickly as I can. Lola took a couple of bites to the arms and she was covered in Merkin slop, but we had our fresh truffles in hand, so it was a success. We then went home and I made some lovely truffle omelettes with eggs from our henhouse for breakfast. What a glorious start of the day.
Ok, that’s a completely fabricated story, but when I saw it was Truffle Day, I was afraid we would have to really forage in the woods for our own truffles. Even if we didn’t hunt down wild ones, truffles are not cheap (I think I saw them on line for $168 an ounce), and I wasn’t eager about making that kind of purchase. Then I’d have to make something with them and I would be worried I would screw it up and waste the $168 food. No thanks. Not for me. Then I realized that today wasn’t about the tuber (truffles are tubers), but it was about the chocolate kind. Now that’s the kind of truffle I can get behind and I can even seek them out without the help of Merkin.
According to Wikipedia, a chocolate truffle is a type of chocolate confectionery, traditionally made with a chocolate ganache center coated in chocolate, cocoa powder or chopped toasted nuts and usually made in a spherical, conical, or curved shape. Their shape resembles the tuber truffle which is where the name comes from. I really had an Ah-ha! moment at that tidbit of information. Makes sense, especially if you look at an image of the forest variety of truffle. If you are like me, the first chocolate truffle you ever tasted was the little chocolate balls from Lindt, the ones that are individually wrapped in colorful foil so that when you eat them, you feel you are eating something special. And they are special. There was a time when having Lindt chocolate truffles was a big deal but over the last few years they have become more widespread in availability and less mystical. Still delicious though.
I could have made my own today but I was once again short on time because I had to work. I have made them before and I made some for Christmas this year for my sister. These were made with prosecco and clotted butter, so kind of a unique little creation. They came out ok I guess. MB liked them. They were just hard to make because when you started to dunk them in chocolate, they would start to melt which made it hard to fully cover. It was frustrating, so that was also running in the back of my mind as I considered making my own. The time constraint was real too because even though they are not hard to make, they need time to sufficiently chill and set. I just didn’t have it in me today. Then I thought for a minute about where I should get truffles and I started to think about chocolate specialty shops. That’s when I remembered the candy counter at my old favorite, Clements Marketplace.
If you are in Clements and you mosey on over to the Flower Cart section, you will see a display case stocked full of tasty treats. The candy is from a company called Asher’s which is a candy company from Pennsylvania that has been around since the 1890’s. They specialize in gourmet treats and Clements carries a whole line of their products. The neat thing about them is that you have to order them like you would from a candy store. You buy it by the pound, and you get to pick what you like. Two turtles, three caramels, two truffles, etc. When Gigi (Lola’s mom) used to shop at Clements, every once and a while she would bring home a box for special occasions. I remember seeing them on the counter in that rectangular white box that seems to be the choice for all candy sellers and the gold Clements’ seal stuck on top. It’s always fun to eat candy that way. It reminds me of candy from the Candy Manor in Chatham which is part of the Breslin-Mellow Cape Cod vacation tradition. I went to Clements after work and although the area was somewhat closed down for the day, I asked for some help and the staff was quick to come over to assist. I looked at the candy case and they had lots of great looking choices and those chocolate caramel turtles looked especially fantastic. But, because it was truffle day, I went with the ones that were expressly categorized as truffles. I didn’t want to confuse things and I needed to stay true to my quest. There were five varieties of truffles available: Mint, Raspberry, Caramel, Dark Chocolate and Espresso. I got two of each and when they were ready, the clerk sealed up my box nicely. She asked if I wanted a bow and I said no, I was going to eat them in the car.
I actually waited until after dinner to eat them. I served them up on a plate and I offered Lola her choice. She wasn’t that interested but when I said there was a Milk Chocolate Caramel Truffle, she said she’d give it a try. When you bit into this one, the caramel gushed out behaving as normal caramel would do inside chocolate. However, because they were truffles, we weren’t expecting that. We were kind of thinking they would be more solid, so when we bit in, we both had to lurch forward with our hands out to catch anything falling down as strings of caramel rappelled off our lips. It was just an awkward moment. That was it for Lola. She wasn’t all that excited to have them in the first place and she wan’t much into sloppy truffles (which coincidentally will be the name of my next punk band). I persisted and moved next to the mint. That was actually better (not that the caramel tasted bad, it was just messy). No leaks or spills on this one, just a nice mixture of chocolate with a smooth mint balance throughout. The espresso one was probably my fave because it had that rich chocolate taste and a nice coffee finish. I am starting to realize that I really like anything espresso. The dark chocolate was not bad either giving me that contrast against the milk chocolate. My last one, the raspberry, was probably my least favorite. It was good raspberry taste, but I don’t love fruit flavor mixed into my chocolate. It was still tasty however with good raspberry flavor, just not my thing.
Not a huge celebration today, but I did get to feast on some sweet treats at the end of a long day, so I’m never going to complain about that. I also got to go to the candy counter and as often as I go to Clements, I never stop there. It made the occasion a little more special, like these holidays should be. I could almost hear Gigi at the same counter ordering her chocolates. She would inevitably either know the clerk packing up the chocolate or she would become fast friends with her in those few minutes she’d be at the counter. She would of course laugh at something and brighten up the whole front of the store with the sound of her contagious laughter. She would bring the candy home and treasure them as a simple pleasure in life, and she would share them with her special people at the prefect moment. I guess I did that today too (minus the hardy laugh at the counter – mine would be more “Cape Fear” maniacal). So in the end I celebrated a happy little memory with sweet chocolate bites of delight. That’s a good day. Now excuse me, I have to go feed Merkin.
Next Up: National Raspberry Popover Day