Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown’s abundant garden has yielded a big surprise - the discovery of truffles. What else but truffle Martinis...
The big news, the wild news from the garden is that we have black truffles. We might never have known except a wonderfully eccentric neighbour, Caron, decided to buy a Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian truffle dog.
A few weeks ago, she arrived with a friend who had two more truffle dogs in tow. They had a good snuffle around the hazel trees at the bottom of the garden. I had long suspected our home’s previous occupant planted inoculated trees – trees with roots exposed to truffle spores.
However, the truffle they found was about 10m from the kitchen door on the roots of a hazel that had died a couple years ago and had not yet been added to the woodpile because we didn’t want to disrupt a nesting pair of wood pigeons.
Caron advised us to reserve the rinse water from washing the truffle. She said it would be filled with spores, so we saved it and poured it in spots around the garden where we would love to find truffles next year (or rather watch Albi find them). But soon the dogs will return for one more search before winter, and we will be ready with Truffle Martinis.
We have made Black Truffle Martinis for years. I think the first time was a pop-up in the old Sipsmith distillery when we shoe-horned 35 guests each night for three nights into that tiny space and served seven courses of food from Peter Gordon of The Providore in Marylebone, paired with nine courses of drink. His lamb cried out for a Truffle Martini.
Truffle infuses beautifully into both wine and spirit. Thus, endless debates as to whether you should infuse it into the gin or the vermouth. We prefer the flavour extraction ability of distilled spirit.
When the dogs return, their owners will host a truffle dinner, and we have been deputised to create the opening cocktail.
Anistatia and Jared's discovery
I recently distilled chanterelle mushrooms with gin on a Rotavapor. While the result was impressive, if I did it again, I’d be tempted to infuse mushrooms into the mushroom spirit after distillation to round out the flavour. Hmmm. Perhaps, I will have to look into this for truffles this round.
Thinly slice one large or two medium-small truffles. Place the slices in a widemouth jar. Add a bottle of gin and seal the jar. Place in a cupboard for 7-10 days. Strain the truffle gin back into the gin bottle. Reserve the truffle slices for garnish. (While some people prefer to infuse the truffles into vermouth, we prefer to infuse the gin as it tends to be a more consistent measure in Martinis)
• 50ml truffle-infused gin
• 10ml dry vermouth
Combine gin and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a couple of truffle slices (count your slices and divide by 14 to know how many to put into each glass).