Category Archives: Rants

How I Learned to Love Truffle Oil and Stop Worrying

By | Rants, Recipes | 20 Comments

Truffle oil is one of those ingredients that are so fashionable to hate right now. Vilification and bigotry are so common when it comes to food, and if some big shot decides truffle oil is a crap ingredient, everyone else blindly agrees. You hear it over and over again: “it’s not the real thing” or “it’s a cheap rip off”. It becomes so hard to disagree when everyone make such quick judgement. I happen to like truffle oil. I don’t care if it’s not the same as shaving a hundred dollar piece of fungus on a perfectly cooked egg. In my opinion, truffle oil has its place in the kitchen, just like chili oil or lemon oil. It adds so much flavour to food that it’s a shame not to use it.

What gives truffle oil its bad reputation is a family of oils infused with artificial truffle aromas – some chemical made in a lab and engineered so that it smells like truffle. Completely fake. But there are also great products out there. Real olive oil infused with real truffle. I get mine from Simon Johnson and there’s a small slice of black truffle floating around in the oil. It’s strong and earthy and I use it in small amounts when I roast my mushrooms. Try and get your hands on some good truffle oil. Toss thick slices of mushrooms in some salt, olive oil, chopped garlic and a drizzle of truffle oil. You can also sprinkle a bit of dried thyme on top. Bake in a tray covered with aluminium foil for around 30 minutes at 190c. Take the foil off and bake for a further 30 minutes until the mushroomy liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft and dark. I love making big batches of these mushrooms and I keep them in the fridge for days. They go with anything – eggs, pasta, steak, sandwiches – and the truffle oil only makes them more delicious. A good truffle oil is a beautiful thing.

Lost for words – Food phrases that you can’t stand

By | Rants | 13 Comments

How would you evocatively describe a delicious, juicy steak? Give it your best shot. There you go. It’s just that: juicy and delicious, right?

While some food can lend itself to poetic description, epic imagery, moving metaphors and ground-shaking word-smithing, most other food is what it is, and there’s no point in trying to be overly articulate in describing how it tastes. The downside, however, is that your description may come across as clichéd, repetitive and outright boring. And if you are a food blogger or a food writer, your worst nightmare may be an image of your readers falling into a deep, peaceful coma while reading your article.

But colourful language can become a cliché too. I feel certain that the first man who described pork crackling as “earth-shatteringly crisp” is turning in his cholesterol-rich grave (I apologise for that clichéd term as well). How about phrases like “wonderfully tender”, “moist and succulent”, “meltingly soft”, “cuts through the richness”, “match made in heaven”, “make room for”? We’ve heard them all a million times. Sure, sometimes we may struggle to come up with an original way to describe a flavour or a dish. I’m sure I’m guilty of food description crimes as well, but still, there are some phrases that just annoy me. I’ve shared some of mine, so how about you? What food descriptions are your pet hates? Leave a comment and let me know.