- Rachel Oct 10, 2001 05:11 PM
Does anyone know where i can buy a whole Truffle in the SF area?
I would get on the horn to all of the ussual suspects; Berkely Bowl, Montery Market, Dean and Deluca, Oakville Grocery, Andronicos etc. Let them know what you are after. I'm sure someone can offer up help. Truffles are one of those things that you don't see often because of the price. I can justify losing 4 to 6 dollars a lb for figs. More for fresh specialty mushrooms. Truffles are a different story. At least saffron keeps. Truffles are perishable. Good luck.
It could be a bit early right now. Around Mid November, they start showing up in better numbers. The price, of course, never gets good. In fact, I've been burned so many times that I'm almost afraid to buy them. Truffle oil is a pretty good substitute. Even the most expensive bottle (and do buy the best you can) costs a fraction of the price of the real thing, yet can get you a lot of mileage. Roast up some wild mushrooms and drizzle 'em with a bit of the oil. um um good.
I also recommend using truffle oil but if you're in need for the real thing, Saveur magazine suggested Urbani Truffles and Cavair (800-281-2330)several months ago. Good Luck!
Draeger's usually has them, packed in rice. And I once bought a white truffle from the Oakville Grocery at the Stanford mall. At $24 for something the size of a marble, it should have been divine. I might as well have spent my time slicing up an old potato, for all the flavor I got from that bit of nonsense.
The other chowhounds are right. Unless you can be assured of really fresh truffles, which seem to be almost as perishable as fish, go for some truffle oil or, if you can find it here, some white truffle paste from Italy.
i recently picked up some black truffle paste at bryan's meats on california in laurel village, but i haven't ever seen white paste. bryan's also carries both white and black truffles in season packed in arborio.
calmart and bryan's groceries, both in laurel village have good international sections where you may be able to find the pastes.
As Brandon surmised, Monterey Mkt. in Berkeley will have them packed in rice in their mushroom section. (Black truffles, maybe white also?) I imagine AG Ferrari might carry the Italian white truffles when in season. If you decide to go with the truffle oil, Zarri's on Solano Ave. always has decent prices on those kind of items-it's a nice family run store also.
You could try Polarica, aka The Game Exchange, in SF. They sell all types of high-end foods (game birds, meats, wild mushrooms, etc) to restaurants. But they also have a retail counter for home cooks.
One thing for sure -- they do not have the overhead costs that the fancy gourmet deli's have.
They also have a web site w/contact info.
Rather than getting truffles all the way from Europe (usually dissapointing), I recommend using some of the incredible varieties of local wild mushrooms.
I just recently picked some Gold Chantrelles up in Mendocino, so those might be available currently. Boletus/Porcini should be beginning to come up, as well. (I've heard Berkeley Bowl has good selection of wild mushrooms).
Morels become available soon (quite meaty, though not as earthy as truffles); Agaricus Augustus (not usually available in stores, but quite good with an almondy flavor/aroma); Hedgehogs in early-mid winter; Matsutakis after a frost; etc.
And the best substitute for truffles, Black Chantrelles (which are better in my opinion and have a similar rich, earthy flavor) should be coming up sometime around late winter/early spring.
Remember: use local, in season & organic when you can!
I don't know where he got them, but Chef Passot at La Folie was offering to add truffles to any (suitable) dish on the menu back in August. The waiter brought out a basket loaded with freshly flown in truffles (from France I believe). These things were enormous -- I guess I'm used to seeing the shrunken offerings packed in oil at Draeger's (not all that tasty either) or the ones packed in rice at Andronico's (Cucina magazine said that this is a no-no because it dries out the truffle). The ones at La Folie were the size of a child's fist (or perhaps I'm just remembering "the one that got away"). $50 an ounce and totally delicious.
Perhaps someone could check with La Folie to see what their source is? Chef Passot was very gracious, even running across the street to thank my companion and me for dining at the restaurant. I suspect he might be kind enough to give a pointer.
re: Jim H.
There is a native variety of truffle, but it is regarded as inferior to the European truffle. I have never found or eaten one, so I am only passing along what I have heard from fellow fungi-phile friends.
I could only find a link for species Tuber rufum, which doesn't mention edibility. California truffle is Tuber californicum and unfortunately doesn't have it's own page (nor does Tuber gibbosum or Oregon White Truffle).