Truffles used to be hard to come by, and for some, still are. However, here in Pittsburgh we have a superb Store called The Giant Eagle Market District. They carry black truffles and will soon carry the white truffle as well. Just a few years ago, the black truffle, also considered, the black diamond was according to most chefs as the finest of the two. However, the white truffle is becoming the most popular, and the most expensive. Truffles can cost $150.00 to $600.00 and up per pound. Sounds too expensive right? Wrong!!! I went to the Market District preparing to shell out a couple hundred dollars, which I considered a huge splurge. I chose four medium sized black truffles, went to the check out counter, pulled out my trusty credit card expecting to wince at the total price, which was all of about ten dollars. I could not believe it. I sang all the way home. Truffles are all they are said to be in taste. I cannot even explain the taste, but I will try. They have a pungent smell, yet a delicate, somewhat sweet flavor. Sunday, I will post a recipe which calls for black truffles. Store your truffles in rice, in the fridge and they'll last longer than you'd think.
I've learned over the years, that using cheap cookware does not pay off in the long run. I love ceramic covered cast iron. The classic is Le Creuset and I collect it. However, Mario Batali puts out an excellent collection. Martha Stewart does as well. The best reward regarding this cookware is that it literally lasts forever. It holds heat extremely well. It's also makes for a beautiful presentation of your cuisine. A couple things to remember when using this cookware. Never use utensils that will scratch or dull. Always use wooden, plastic or silicone. Yes, this cookware can be expensive. However, if you collect a couple of pieces at a time, before you know it, you'll have a full set.
When cooking with wine, cognac or a liqueur, never use a quality you wouldn't consume. Especially if you're making a wine sauce. The same goes with liquor. I have a recipe for bourbon mashed potatoes. It's paired with a wild game meat. I use Maker's Mark. Just keep this in the back of your mind, if you would not drink it, don't cook with it.