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PRODUCT WATCH: Périgord Truffles

Feeling rich or reckless? Hankering to buy a voluptuous gift for yourself or your BFF (best foodie friend)? The French truffle season opens the last week of November. In the Périgord, the world’s greatest black truffle region, pigs, dogs and trufflers (human truffle hunters) will beating the bushes (or more literally, the forests of great oak and chestnut trees) for the precious fungus. While most connoisseurs pledge their troth to the white Alba truffle of Italy, we have always loved cooking with the Périgord truffle (the white truffle can’t be cooked, just grated over food).   Truffle Pig
Two Périgord truffle hunters: man and pig.
QuelObjet.com flies fresh black truffles directly to the U.S. from the Périgord, and will overnight express them to your doorstep. But orders must be placed in advance: They only import what has been ordered. To learn more about truffles, read our overview article, complete with a Truffle Glossary, recipes and some beautiful truffle photos. Truffles are found four to five inches underground, growing on the roots of oaks and a few other trees. Since they can’t be seen, they need to be sniffed out. Pigs have great noses for locating truffles and will naturally root them out. But pigs love truffles as much as we do, and will swallow them on the spot if they are not restrained (and as you can see from the size, it takes a tough man to restrain a large pig). Dogs, which can be trained to find truffles, but have no interest in eating them, are the preferred scout of most trufflers. P.S. If you plan a truffle feast…please invite us.

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NEWS: Great Tomatoes, Year-Round

Backyard Beauties
Backyard Beauties: A great tomato is joy.
  If New England’s Backyard Farms inspires farmers in other regions, Americans with a taste for quality tomatoes may be able to get them year-round. Once September arrives in northern climates, delicious, locally-grown tomatoes disappear and tomato lovers have only the memories until the warm weather returns. Tomatoes picked green and shipped from thousands of miles away don’t deliver anything approximating the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato.
But Backyard Farms, a greenhouse company located in chilly Maine, is bringing fresh, vine-ripened Backyard Beauties to local markets throughout New England, year round. Their Beauties are grown in environmentally-friendly greenhouses using state-of-the-art technology. While other tomatoes are traveling to the produce section from as far away as Holland and Mexico—a journey of weeks—Backyard Beauties stay on the vine until they are fully ripened. Picked today, they arrive in New England supermarkets tomorrow. The response has been phenomenal. Please, Backyard Farms: Set up shop in every region. Americans deserve great tomatoes all the time! For more information visit BackyardBeauties.com.

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TREND: Olives—More & Better

According to the Trade Institute of Spain, the U.S. consumes about 170,000 tons of olives annually—about 1.1 pounds per inhabitant. Olives are seen as healthy snacks and are consumed in salads, in pizzas and on sandwiches. Even though the U.S. is a producer of olives, most of our olives are black olives used for olive oil. Between 2003 and 2006, imports of fresh and processed olives grew 26%, with a dollar increase suggesting that the U.S. is consuming olives of a higher quality as well. The main exporter to the U.S. is Spain (38%), followed by Mexico (22%), Greece (13%) and Morocco (6%).   Olives
Photo courtesy SXC.
 

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CONTEST: Holy Guacamole

  Sign up for the California Avocado Commission’s recipe e-mail list and you’ll be entered to win a $500 grocery gift card for the groceries of your choice. Visit Avocado.org for details.

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