By Despina Konti
Greek truffles, one of the most expensive commodities on the international market, are quietly winning over aficionados around the world.
Although commercial activity in Greece is still in the fairly early stages, the country’s truffles have started attracting connoisseurs of international gastronomy and are slowly but steadily reaching important markets abroad.
The Eklekto firm is something of a pioneer in the US market, aspiring to promote Greek truffles by exporting them across the Atlantic.
San Francisco-based sommelier Peter Weltman, who is an Eklekto partner, says truffles “form part of the Greeks’ history, but they tend to get forgotten.” Today they are more closely associated with Italian cuisine, says Weltman, adding that he’d like to see them recognized as a Greek product again.
The sommelier’s love and passion for Greek food brought him into contact with Giorgos Athanas, and together they decided to introduce Greek truffles to North America. “One of the products we discovered in Greece was high-quality white and black truffles that are similar to those found in Italy,” he tells Kathimerini.
The two partners are active in San Francisco, New York and Atlanta, while two leading San Francisco restaurants, Eight Tables by George Chen and Quince, feature Greek truffles in their dishes.
“We started supplying the US market with truffles two years ago and our progress has been considerable,” Athanas says. “We now send around 3 to 5 kilos per week. Greece could supply the market with over 3 tons of fresh truffles, translating into millions of dollars,” he adds.
“Greek truffles are a natural resource, a potential gold mine,” Weltman says, adding that truffle growers must be taught about cultivating the fungi to prevent the entry into the market of unskilled people who might undermine the quality of the country’s product.
This article was first published on ekathimerini.com