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Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone

I hope every one of you had a great Christmas holiday and that the new year will be full of prosperity and positive energy for all your endeavors.  I certainly look forward to 2012 myself.

The orchards here at Keep Your Fork haven't brought us any truffles yet this year.  In lean years past, I have purchased truffles from other growers and made them available to folks on my customer list.  If you're one of those, please send me an email and I'll be happy to bring in some truffles just for you.  I don't make any money on that.  I just do it as a service for my truffle loving customers.  I know that eventually I'll have truffles from my own orchards for you so it helps to just keep in touch while we wait.

Always in search of treasure!
In news from other growers and importers, what I hear is that truffles are in short supply and not very flavorful yet.  The season seems to be getting off to a slow start.  That happens.  We never have any control over when ripe truffles begin to appear.  That's part of the great truffle mystique.  However, we growers are also pretty picky when it comes to flavor and aroma.  There's almost no such thing as a lousy truffle as long as it hasn't fully deteriorated.  From my own experience, I've never shipped or been shipped a bad truffle.

In other news, it is my intention to continue to look for ways that our business can strengthen and contribute to the community where we live.  The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina has a program called the BackPack Program.  It provides food for the week-end for students who are enrolled in the free breakfast and lunch programs in the schools.  Truffles NC, LLC will be working to organize a benefit dinner on February 11, 2012, for that program.  That's the Saturday before Valentine's Day.  If you want to treat your Valentine to a delicious truffle dinner and contribute to this worthwhile charity, please send me a note and I'll send you more information as it becomes available.  The minimum donation requested is $50.00 per person.  Dinner will be preceded by a wine tasting and folks can buy the wine they like best to accompany their dinner.  We will donate the truffles and other truffle products and hope to see it become an annual event here in Stokes County.  This year's dinner will take place at Coffee, Tea and Me on Dalton Road in downtown King.   I truly hope to see some of you there.

Think Truffles!!  Friday is constantly looking for the next big find!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Tis The Season"

Today I got some REALLY GOOD NEWS.  Those of you who know us personally know how hard we have been working to establish a relationship with Whole Foods.  Today it became a reality with the Whole Foods Store in Durham placing their first order for Truffle Butter, sold there under the Maple View Farms label.  It will be on their shelf Monday.  Thank you Whole Foods and Roger Nutter at Maple View Farms.   We are so very excited to have this product available through this outlet all across North Carolina.  It is very affirming for us and for our partners at Maple View Farms.  So, go to your favorite Whole Foods store in North Carolina and tell the dairy buyer that you want truffle butter from Truffles NC.  Each and every jar comes with its own recipe tag for your serving suggestions.  Then let me know how you like it.  AND Thank you for your patronage.

Now, let's talk about other stuff related to truffles and the season which is almost upon us. I heard from my friend Mary James Laurence  that the truffle season is just in the start-up phase in France. Mary James leads tours and is my "go to" person for what's happening "on the ground" so to speak for the truffle season across the pond.  It's off to a slow start.  The truffles are not very flavorful or aromatic yet.  Best ones probably won't be there for 2 to 3 more weeks.  This is confirmed by my friend, Frank Brunacci in Chicago as well.  Frank is a truffle distributor who is not only knowledgeable about the truffle markets but also very trustworthy -- a good man to know if you love truffles like I love truffles.

I have been to the orchard with the dogs, just doing a little refresher course.  Friday is definitely at the top of his game.  Dazy, not so much.  Over the next couple of weeks, Friday and I will work with Dazy a little and she will do a good job, I'm sure.  If you're not on my email list to be notified when we have truffles, please send me an email.  You can do it from the website.

Here's another video you might enjoy. Truffle frenzy is mounting here, can you tell?

Think Truffles!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

SavorNC Magazine | January/February 2011

Last year this time, Savor NC Magazine did an article about truffles and we were included.  This year, we'll get a spot of our own.  I'll post the link when the article appears but it will be in the January/February issue again.  In case you missed it, here's last year's article  SavorNC Magazine | January/February 2011

Thanks to the Bloom Agency for this picture.
We were ready for the hunt.
Ready for sales just in time for the holidays are truffle salt and truffle honey.  We have Celtic Sea Salt from Selina Naturally in Arden, NC  to mix with our black winter truffles.  The fabulous aroma will make you swoon -- guaranteed.  We have North Carolina honey provided by Reynolda Farm Market  where they already sell our truffle butter.  We just mix that honey with black winter truffles and, trust me, it is fabulous.  The salt and honey will be available at Let It Grow Produce beginning Friday after Thanksgiving so add those products to your own wish lists and to the gift lists for all your truffle loving friends.

Now, on to more farm-like matters.  We're looking at ongoing pruning over the next couple of weeks.  With the warm weather here (a balmy 70F today) and the filbert trees sprouting new little branches and green leaves budding out faster than the old ones can die off, it's looking like we could get this pruning job under control and keep it that way.  Sounds good to me.

Friday and Dazy are getting anxious to hunt truffles.  We've had a cold snap and good rain so very soon now we'll take them to the orchard and see what they find.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Is Your Truffle Oil the Real Deal? or Be Informed, Don't Blow Your Dough

Hello again, Truffle Fans.

Today I'm sharing a truffle oil recipe I hope you will enjoy.  I read and look for information constantly about truffles and truffle products.  As you know, I'm a self-described fanatic for the real thing. I even order truffle butter when I find it on the web just so I know my competition.  I recently ordered some from Amazon and was completely disappointed to find it to be the same old truffle flavored "stuff" with a little black summer truffle added to it.  So, that's why the title of today's post...

Well, I found a couple of posts on ChowHound yesterday I thought you might like to see -- enjoy good information about buying truffles and another delicious pasta recipe.

The other thing I found was a post by another truffle person who shared the message I preach constantly -- Truffle Oil (unless you make it yourself or get it from an individual who does),  is just perfumed oil.  So, if you want to make your own truffle oil, here's how you do it.

This recipe came from The Provence CookBook, 175 Recipes and Select Guide to the Markets, Shops and & Restaurants of France's Sunny South by Patricia Wells, HarperCollins Publishers.  Thanks Patricia!  This is a great book with good information as well as the great recipes.

Truffle Oil (Huile de Truffe(from Page 319, The Pantry)

1 Tablespoon minced truffle peelings
1 cup grapeseed oil (good quality has no real flavor)

In a small saucepan, combine the peelings and oil.  Heat over low heat just until the oil becomes fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Cover securely and set aside at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Check regularly to judge the infusing power of the truffle.  After 3 days, filter the oil and use the truffle peelings for another use.  Refrigerate the oil for up to 3 more days or freeze for up to 2 months.

This, folks, is the answer to a question I'm often asked, "Do you make truffle oil?"  This is the reason why I do not sell truffle oil.  I probably never will until I have a regular customer base to buy this oil fresh from me when it is at its absolute best.

However, I am almost ready to market truffle salt and truffle honey so stay tuned.

Enjoy this beautiful fall and, until next time...
Think Truffles!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Truffle Season is Just Around the Corner

This time of year gets plumb beautiful around here.  We live in the Sauratown Mountains and the leaves get so pretty in fall, you really don't have to go anywhere to get your fill of fall beauty.  Of course, it's a little early yet.  It will be another week or two before the most brilliant colors appear but the signs are all here that it's just around the corner.

Soon we'll drain the irrigation lines and shut down the pump for the year.  We'll be working with the dogs to refresh their memories of what truffles smell like (as if they needed it).  We'll be doing the last of the farm tours for the year since we don't do that during harvest season.

You might say, we're in transition.  It's one I look forward to every year just as much as I look forward to the green leaves popping out in the spring.  Harvest time (December through February) is almost here.  Can't wait!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Truffles Unlimited

So, last week, I took a day away from the orchards, pond and truffle butter stuff and went to rub elbows with other entrepreneurs.  (I have been called a serial entrepreneur.  The truffle business is my 5th and -- hopefully -- final start-up business.)  While there, I learned about a young prodigy who imports truffles and sells other truffle products.  I thought you might like to hear the interview.  Follow the link to hear Ian Puryakastha talk about truffles.

Truffles Unlimited

I followed the link to his company and called him up.  He's a very knowledgeable and nice young man.  I hope I'll get to meet him at the National Truffle Festival in Asheville, NC in March 2012.  How about you?

In the meantime, I'll still looking for my niche in the truffle butter business in Charlotte.  Any ideas?

While We're Waiting for Truffles, Let's Talk about Truffle Flavors

Mini jars, 35 grams of butter & truffle
When attending my first meeting of the North Carolina Specialty Food Association last week, I was given the opportunity to introduce myself and say a few words about our product.  I wish I had thought to say, "It's the real thing every time all the time."  More and more I am coming to understand how few folks in my area have really tasted truffles or fallen under their spell.

You see, a lot of folks who have tasted truffle flavored dishes or bought truffle oil or other truffle products really haven't tasted truffles.  They have tasted truffle flavoring and there's a BIG difference.  Truffles (Black Winter Perigord Truffles) have a flavor that's almost impossible to describe.  Some of the words I have used are "earthy, mushroomy, musky, nutty and olive-like" but none of those words really describe the truffle flavor.  It's a powerful flavor and aroma but it isn't like "truffle flavoring."  It's not that it isn't good -- it's just very different.

Next time you buy a truffle something, ask some questions.  See if you're getting the real thing or something that's just truffle flavored.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pruning Tips & Pics and Treacherous Stings

The right tools make all the difference.  Get some sharp cutting clippers and lopping shears.  Gloves and water are essential.  It's hot out there by 8:30 a.m.

The chair is for the end of the job.  (Just didn't want you to think this is a sitting down job.)
This tree has been pruned before but it still needs to get some air.  See how dark it is in the center?
See the difference?  It's so light and airy now.  It can much more easily sustain itself and won't need as much water.  Air circulation is very important, too.

Here are the limbs I pruned out.  This was a light-weight compared to some in the orchard.  Some of them had never been pruned so there were lots more branches to remove. 

Just a few more thoughts that came to me as I worked.
  1. If you have Eastern Filbert Blight in your orchard, as you prune, watch the "suckers" as compared to the original tree branches.  The suckers in my trees didn't have any cankers so I left them to keep the tree and root system alive. 
  2. Plant more oaks.  They don't require as much maintenance.
  3. If EFB comes your way, maybe if the trees are well pruned, the spores will blow on through and not stay around.
  4. Don't top the trees.  It just makes more sucker branches to prune in the end.

Be careful out there.  You never know what may be lurking between the branches.  At the very end of a row when I picked up a pile of branches to drag to the edge of the orchard, a  puss caterpillar (an asp) stung me.  I never saw it and was only able to determine what had stung me by the pattern it left on my skin and great internet site for identification.  It took 48 hours to stop hurting and I do mean HURTING.  If one ever stings you, you'll know it.  Read all about it and, if all possible, avoid it like the plague.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping the Truffle Experience Real

After watching the last video about truffle growing (or not) in Australia, I felt compelled to write about something that isn't mentioned there - or anywhere else that I have seen.  Truffle Perfume

Most people I meet outside the truffle growers and truffle lovers community - those who are just getting introduced to truffles - don't realize that what they have tasted and smelled in the past is truffle perfume.  Most oils and salts offered on the North American market today are FLAVORED.  That's a whole different thing from the real thing.

I visited a specialty gourmet food shop recently specifically for the purpose of buying the truffle salt they sell which is supposed to be REAL truffle salt.  Balderdash!  It's no more the real thing than anything else I've tasted which is truffle flavored.  I promptly brought it home, opened it and compared it to truffle salt I made from real black winter perigord truffles finely chopped and added to salt.  They are nothing alike at all.  I find this all the time.  How do we teach people what the real thing tastes like?  They're conditioned to the taste of this fake stuff.  Disgusting!

I have had people taste my truffle butter and compare it to other truffle flavored butter and actually prefer the flavored stuff.  I don't get it.  Once you've tasted the real thing, wouldn't you want to always have the real thing?  After all, you can buy flavoring anywhere.

It's sort of like having fresh vegetables and meat from farms that are local as compared to food that's been shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Is that a fair comparison?

I need to know what you think.  Comments?

Ok.  Back to the never ending job of pruning in the orchard.

Think Truffles!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Australia's Truffle Projects a Mixed Bag

As we spend the last weeks of summer enjoying cool mornings in the orchards, I thought I'd share another interesting link I received from another truffle entrepreneur here in NC. Enjoy!

If you've been following the blog for a while, you may be beginning to see how the seasons affect the farming part of this venture.  Usually we have HEAT and DRY weather to complain about and agonize over wondering if we're watering enough.  We have been blessed with rain this summer -- another 1+ inch in the last 24 hours.  We feel smiled upon.

Think Truffles!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Truffles in Other Places

This week, I'm taking a little side trip to other truffle information.  I'll do some organizing of my thoughts and write more about Keep Your Fork Farm and Truffles NC next time but thought you might be interested in this website.  Opinions (theirs and ours) vary.
I get emails regularly from a truffle importer in Chicago who reps for honey truffles - among others.  I'm interested because I've considered making truffle honey.  Just thought you might like to read about these and other truffle treasures.  Enjoy!
natural truffle zonenatural truffle zone
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We are passionate about truffles and we wanted to share some of its mysteries. Although they were appreciated since the Ancient Age, remain great unknown. Diamonds of gastronomy, originated in the poorest lands, truffles are underground and specially trained dogs are used for harvesting them.

Tuber melanosporum, diamond of gastronomy Duna, winner truffle dog
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