Gastropod

THE Gastropod was aroused by reports predicting the price of truffles from Perigord was set to plummet, following a bumper crop. Sadly, the law of supply and demand does not necessarily apply to the earth's most rare and pungent fungus, tuber melanosporum. The market is controlled by a cabal of negociants, who liaise with the truffle gatherers and put their heads together each Monday to fix a price.

As Pierre-Jean Pebeyre, a truffle dealer, explained, the conditions that produce an abundant harvest also improve the desired qualities of colour, texture and fragrance. Since quality increases with quantity, when truffles are plentiful they tend to be snapped up to be preserved in oil. Consequently, demand tends to rise with supply and there is no such thing as a truffle glut.

This year, the price for 'rough' truffles has fluctuated between Fr1,400-Fr1,800 (about pounds 175- pounds 225) per kilo, but Mr Pebeyre emphasised that up to a quarter of that would consist of mud and broken bits; whole brushed truffles are considerably dearer. His current price is Fr2,050 ( pounds 255), only fractionally down on last season.

According to David Tamlyn, of Wild Foods (081-960 9499), who supplies London restaurants, one renegade truffle dealer did break ranks 10 days ago and slashed his price to Fr1,500 ( pounds 187) per kilo, but the market has now stabilised. Taking freight costs, agent's fees and the rate of currency exchange into account, by the time the truffles reach the kitchens of the grander London restaurants that Mr Tamlyn supplies, the price per kilo will be about pounds 300.

Truffle connoisseurs will not need to be told that a large part of the attraction is sexual, since truffles contain pheromones, making them an accredited aphrodisiac. Truffle lovers in London will flock to the Savoy (071-836 4343) this month, where Anton Edelmann is celebrating the fragrant black diamonds with a set-price menu featuring truffes in all sorts of permutations. A changing selection of more than 30 dishes includes courgette flowers stuffed with a scallop mousse with truffles; poached egg on lentils with morels and truffles; even creme brulee aux truffes. A trip to the Savoy's River Room Restaurant could be just the job for Valentine's Day.

THE Gastropod would not be seen dead drinking Carling Black Label, but has, none the less, been amused by the television advertisements in which Australians who drink a rival brand are portrayed as arachnophobics. Now the maker of Castlemaine XXXX has replied with a poster depicting a spider being crushed by a can of its lager. The best thing about both these insipid brews is their ingenious advertising, but the latest Aussie import, Big Red, is in a different league.

It is being promoted with the slogan, 'It's just the beer talking', and Big Red actually appears to have something interesting to say. Named for a variety of kangaroo and brewed in Brisbane at 5 per cent ABV, it has a distinctive and slightly bitter taste that has quickly found favour with the discerning drinkers of Queensland, where it was launched only two years ago. Available here only in bars in central London, Big Red does not insult the palate and is quite safe to be seen quaffing.

ALBERT CLARK, the 23-year-old chef of the Halcyon Hotel in west London, seems to be flavour of the month, being featured in the February issues of two glossy magazines. In For Him Magazine, he is quoted as saying: 'It's a French myth that you have to train for years to be a chef. I don't believe in that.' In The Face, he says: 'Food shouldn't be a poncey issue - it's meant to be simple.'

His catering background, including stints washing up at L'Escargot and peeling potatoes at Groucho's, is unconventional and has evidently given the iconoclastic young man rather a cocky manner. The Face quotes his boss describing him as 'obnoxious, big-headed, bad-mouthed and bolshie.' In the For Him article, Mr Clark is non-too-flattering about his boss and declares: 'I'm sure they hate me upstairs.'

THE great Service Charge debate rumbles on as a reader from Chelsea, Mr FE Horrack III, writes enclosing a bill from Bistrot Bruno: 'The cost was quite reasonable for the quality of the cooking, but note that the printed bill advises Service Not Included; the cash register printout advises Service Not Inc; and the bill has been hand-stamped to advise Service Not Included. Either Bruno attracts the meanest tippers in London, or the slowest learners] Is this a record?'

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

    £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash