Dr. Paul Thomas of the American Truffle Company stepped up to deliver a short overview of how his company helps would-be truffle farmers create, cultivate, and manage financially successful truffle orchards using lots of scientific monitoring and their accumulated research and experience from partnering with farmers all over the world. But, since he couldn't very well give away the milk for free, he was pretty tight lipped about the results of his new research into the hormonal communication between truffle fungus and host trees that may prompt fruiting.
I'm providing a bonus close-up food porn picture for those cold and lonely nights.
As we learned about expected yields of truffle orchards, we passed around some extra truffle-inoculated baby trees that hadn't made it into the ground. Sinskey used two different types of trees for its orchard: live oak, which produces truffles more slowly at first but continues to produce for decades, and filbert (hazelnut) trees, which produce truffles faster than oaks, but also have a shorter productive life. We got to fondle both. The picture below is a baby filbert tree with truffle fungus in its roots, which costs about $20.
You may be afraid to ask what I did with it, but I will tell you. First I shaved off its tough outer "bark" with a paring knife to expose its tender, moist interior. Did I toss these bark-like shavings? Yes, directly into a bottle of fresh vodka to steep for a few weeks. I have big plans for those cocktails, and not a scrap of truffle went to waste.