Sunday, December 9, 2007

Truffle Cheese

Petit Brillat Savarin with Truffles

I really enjoyed this cheese... black truffle coated fresh triple cream cow's milk cheese. The cheese itself is very smooth rich and mellow. But the fats in the cheese help the beautiful truffle flavor to linger in your mouth better - Very nice combination indeed...

Boschetto al Tartufo Stagionato

This cheese is made from pure sheep’s milk by the master cheese maker at Il Forteto. It is supposed to have white truffles in it but all the truffles looked very dark to me (may be do to the aging process?) It did have a light aroma of truffles but it didn't have the depth of truffle flavor I wished for. I would rather use white truffle butter to add intense truffle flavor to a dish (If you don't have a fresh truffle). This cheese remind me of aged sheep Gouda. It could be sliced or graded over pasta or risotto.

Truffle Butter

After tasting 7 course fresh Italian white truffle dinner at my favorite restaurant in Venice (I want to keep it secret...), I was not sure if my palette was developed enough for truffle. I asked the chef to slice me white truffles so that I can taste it by it self. I did like plain truffle but I think the truffle's job is to decorate other ingredients in the dish. In other word, truffles shine when there is a beautiful background food. It is like a beautiful flawless diamond (white truffle) on a beautiful woman without any makeup (scrambled eggs, pasta, risotto...without any other spice).
I wanted to incorporate truffles in to my daily diet... so I ordered truffle butter.

I really loved intense flavor of white truffles in this butter (see left). It has very simple ingredients -100% French butter, white truffle, natural white truffle extract, sea salt. It had just enough sea salt to enhance the flavor of truffle.
It is made by Fabrique Delices which I associate with great quality high end food. I had great experiences with their Pâtés, Foie Gras, and sausages as well.
I used this butter on bread, on crunchy fresh green beans, and boiled fingering potatoes.

I also purchased black truffle butter from D'Artagnan. They were not as good as the white one from Fabrique Delices. It did have bigger chunk of truffles but it was not as flavorful as the other. Yes I know, it is black truffle which has less aroma than white but it had other, "off" ingredients such as soy sauce...

It is better to cook black truffle a little so I used this black truffle butter in my ravioli dish.

Risotto with white truffles, shrimps, artichoke and mushrooms topped with Boschetto al Tartufo Stagionato (white truffle cheese). It was very nice match!

Bulgarian Feta

I'm so into sheep's milk these days. I really like cheese made of sheep's milk. They taste more flavorful than cow milk but more delicate than goat milk.

I was not a big fan of Feta cheese. I thought they taste chalky and salty without depth in flavor.

I found this Bulgarian Feta (Sireneon) on and I realized I was wrong about Feta. This feta was creamy but crumbly at the same time. It was not too salty nor too acidic but had very mild milky sheep flavor. I really loved it.

Interesting article about Feta on SF Gate FOCUS ON FETA
Now I feel embarrassed that I said "I do not like Feta" without trying Feta from countries other than Greece.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Argentina - Beef

Argentinians are very proud of their beef and I think they should be. Argentinian beef tastes great and Argentina has the world's highest consumption rate of beef, at 68 kg a year per capita (Wikipedia).

I am a big believer of eating meats which was raised natural way. I mean natural by animals that eat only non processed food and live without being caged. Of course no hormones and no antibiotics. -the way animals suppose to live. I think they taste way better. On top of that, I feel healthier eating healthy animals.

Open pastures grass diet is still the most popular way of raising beef cows in Argentina. I believe 100% grass fed beef has more depth in the flavor. They do not have marbled fat through out the muscle but it can sustain moisture through dry cooking method. I used to only eat stake with marblelized fat such as Matsuzaka and Kobe beef, but now I also appreciate more lean red grass fed beef as well. My favorite cuts are ojo de bife (rib-eye) and lomo (tenderloin). Only issue I had was that Argentinians like to eat stake more cooked than rare. At many restaurants, they served me medium stake when I ordered it rare.

One place I had great rare stake was at Cabaña Las Lilas. It is very famous Parrilla (grill restaurant). They have their own ranch to raise their cows. Their "branded" meat is very popular in Buenos Aires. I saw their meat sold at super markets there. I think Las Lilas is one of Must Visit for Buenous Aires. We arrived at the restaurant over 1 hour late but they were very accommodating. They served us warm traditional homemade Empanada (beef, green pepper and boiled eggs) with glass of Mendoza sparkling while waiting for our table. I ordered chinchulines (beef Chitterlings -very common appetizer in Argentina) and lomo stake. They serve appetizer tray, extensive bread basket and desert tray with all the dinner menus. Their Italian influenced appetizer tray was mediocre, but other than that, they were all delicious. I was pleasantly surprised that the chitterlings did not have any gaminess and was not chewy... I really loved great clean beef fat flavor with grill taste. Overall, the restaurant was touristy but I enjoyed 3 hour meal there.

Cabaña las Lilas
Alicia Moreau de Justo 516, Buenos Aires
At Villaflor in Dique 3
Phone: 11/4313-1336

I also enjoyed Milanese de Carne (breaded beef) in Argentina. I saw the dish listed on menus at may restaurants and I saw beef already coated in bread crumbs sold at many butcher/egg stores as well.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I enjoyed eating Empanada. I did not have great experiences with Empanadas in the US, and I was delighted by the wonderful taste of freshly made Empanadas in Argentina. They were sold at many small shops through out the city... also at bakeries and pizzerias.

There are many different variety of Empanadas such as Carne - Pollo - Jamon y Queso - Jamon queso y Roquefort - Queso y Cebolla - Humita - Capresse - Espinaca ...

My favorite is Carne. Coarsely grounded beef, green and red sweet peppers, and chopped boiled eggs. I was invited to an Argentinian home one night, and homemade Empanada there was unforgettably good.


I really liked grilled Chorizos in Argentina. I saw many sausage shops throughout the city.

I didn't like Morcilla (blood sausage). They tasted too sweet to my taste and the texture reminded me of blood too much. I prefer Spanish version of Morcilla and Irish /English Black pudding better.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I had a great time (one of the best trip) in Argentina. I loved people, nature, penguins, whales and tango...

I was little disappointed with my culinary experience in Argentina. Yes I did experience great beef cooked at Parrilla, Chorizo from local butcher, homemade Empanada and Wine from Mendoza. Oh, they also had great sandwiches and ice cream too. My problem was I am not a big beef eater... And other than things mentioned above, there were not many good choices. I had sushi but it had no rice in it. It seemed they do not have many fish choices either other than salmon. I had risotto but it was overcooked and not creamy (Skate fish on the same plate below tasted very good)...