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Truffles--to serve at home..where to buy?

erica Nov 2, 2008 04:25 AM

The recent talk of truffles has given me the idea of buying a small amount to try at home. It seems as if this would be a good cost-saving alternative to ordering a shaving of truffles at a restaurant for more than $150..am I wrong on this?

I know that Buon Italia sells white Alba truffles (more than $3,000) per pound!! What would be the best place in Manhattan to buy a tiny truffle to serve at home? Does anyone have experience with SOS Chefs in the EV?

Is there a huge difference in aroma/taste between white and black truffles?

I was thinking of shaving over a simple pasta. Good idea?

  1. guttergourmet Nov 27, 2009 04:32 AM

    There appears to be an Urbani Truffles store coming to 11th avenue and 6oth street. Anyone got any info?

    1. erica Nov 18, 2009 03:36 AM

      I never did buy the Alba truffles last year, but my thoughts have again turned to this topic.

      At Jean Georges this week, they offered Alba truffles as a supplement to the regular $98 menu--three ounces for $90, which would serve two generously, according to our server and which actually sounds like a good value, given the retail prices last year. (We did not partake however)

      Has there been a price change this season?

      Has anyone bought white truffles for use at home recently? This will be a costly experiment and I do not want to make mistakes, in buying or in serving!! What restaurants would you recommend for sampling these Piemontese delicacies?

      Many thanks!!

      Jean Georges
      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

      6 Replies
      1. re: erica
        tvertigo Nov 19, 2009 07:39 AM

        I just called Buon Italia in the chelsea market. 155/oz for white truffles. i forgot to ask if they were Alba, but I assume they are. When pressed for a discount if I bought "more", they asked if I was a restaurant. When I replied "no", they said no discount. I was thinking of getting a bunch of buddies in on a bigger (1/2-1lb order, but still probably pales in comparison to a restuarant order.

        I think I will go tomorrow after work and let you know what I find.

        1. re: tvertigo
          erica Nov 19, 2009 01:37 PM

          Yes, please let me know--

          Also, I am assuming that one has to buy a whole truffle and that they will not prepare a serving per ounce..is this correct?

          1. re: tvertigo
            erica Nov 24, 2009 07:47 AM

            White Alba truffles are, indeed, 155 per ounce at Buon Italia. They told me that they get delivery every couple of weeks. You do have to buy a whole truffle. She weighed one for me and told me that it would yield enough to serve four; the price was about $130, so a bit less than one ounce.

            White Alba truffles are about $250 per ounce at SOS, according to a friend who visited them today. They receive delivery twice a week.

            Any thoughts on what, besides frequency of delivery, accounts for the big variation in price?

            Does anyone have an idea of prices charged by other truffle vendors in Manhattan?

            1. re: erica
              erica Nov 27, 2009 09:39 AM

              Ii checked with Ideal Cheese; they no longer will order truffles for customers, but they recommended AGata and Valentina as a source. I will check them out. I'd not heard of Urbani opening here in Manhattan.....

              1. re: erica
                intrepid Nov 27, 2009 11:58 AM

                agata will be on the high side, but imho if good quality-its worth it

                1. re: intrepid
                  erica Nov 28, 2009 11:57 AM

                  It is difficult to compare prices, because these do not seem to take the freshness issue into consideration... Buon Italia told me that they get deliveries every few weeks, while SOS says they get them twice a week. Perhaps this justifies the price increase??!!

                  I will check Agata when I have a chance and report back..

        2. t
          ttzur Nov 4, 2008 08:14 AM

          SOS is a great spot - they will work with you to find exactly what you need at the right price. White Truffles from Alba are heavenly - one shaving will send you straight to the clouds - my advice have it with a simple spaghetti and butter sauce so you dont introduce any distractions, let the steam from the pasta with truffles go into your nostrils for a moment or two - you will know what i mean. I have had white truffles from ISTRIA peninsula in Croatia , they are amazingly good at a fraction of the price and may give you the experience you are seeking

          2 Replies
          1. re: ttzur
            erica Nov 4, 2008 01:45 PM

            Thanks..I need to go there soon..it looks like a terrific place for other things, too, and I wonder why I have not seen more discussion of the place on CH..

            1. re: erica
              ttzur Nov 4, 2008 02:46 PM

              i think it hasnt been around for too long in its current loaction and does a lot of work directly with restaurants/ wholesale. i found out about it since i am around the corner - stepped in and found it to be great

          2. EnderWiggin Nov 3, 2008 01:16 PM

            The November 1st issue of Wine Enthusiast has a great article called The Great Truffle Scuffle which features a battle between two truffle heavyweights. One dish each determines the winner. Potatoes with truffle by Chef Clement Bruno vs.Fried egg with white truffles by Lidia Alciati.

            It is a great read and it includes their two recipes so pick up the issue.

            Also the chemical that is used in most truffle oils that was mentioned earlier is 2,4-Dithiapentane.

            1. c
              cavafan Nov 3, 2008 06:48 AM

              The Italian store in Chelsea Market has them. (Blanking on the name, sorry.) Also Urbani, online, is a good supplier. DEFINITELY buy a truffle shaver.

              As for recipes, the simple cheese and cream sauce pastas work, so would a mushroom risotto. And baked eggs in a little parmesan and cream is amazing with truffles. Or, look up recipes for fonduta, which is basically Italian fondue, made with fontina instead of gruyere.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cavafan
                Lucia Nov 3, 2008 11:01 AM

                Buon Italia. Can't confirm if they have truffles.

                1. re: Lucia
                  erica Nov 3, 2008 12:48 PM

                  Yes, they do have truffles at Buon Italia; seeing the sign posted there was one of the things that got me started on this topic. Many thanks to all--I will check out a few places, including Ideal and maybe SOS, and and report back if I decide to take the plunge..

              2. t
                tazerowe Nov 3, 2008 04:58 AM

                SOS is great. Nice people, high quality and good prices.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tazerowe
                  Fuffy Nov 29, 2009 02:56 PM

                  What/where is SOS?

                  1. re: Fuffy
                    squid kun Dec 2, 2009 08:03 AM


                    SOS Chefs
                    104 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                2. Delucacheesemonger Nov 2, 2008 09:09 AM

                  Essentially three types of truffles, not counting local or NW ones that are not the same
                  Summer truffles from France/Spain are good in appearance, black with gray interior, and virtually no nose or flavor. They will be the least expensive. In the winter truffle type there are black or white. While each can come from similar areas, generally the black are from Perigord in SW France and smell very good and taste even better. But even though l am a great Francophile, the white ones from Alba take the cake, best nose and dreamy flavor. Most of the truffle oils now are chemical based as most perfumes are too. Too much variance and too much cost in real product. Get a white truffle oil in sunflower oil, large bottles are less expensive for the quantity and on your reefer door will last a long, long time. When you buy the real thing, white or black fresh truffles, at a better store, make sure they are VERY fresh, they lose their punch in a week or so, thus l order them for pickup as opposed to taking them out of the counter. Thus they should be heavy for their size. If you think you got a bargain by getting a big one that is light, it means all its good stuff has evaporated, thus a bad deal.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                    erica Nov 2, 2008 12:28 PM

                    This is great information! But I am too math-challenged to understand the price per ounce calculation from Paul, above. If I wanted to serve only two of us, how much do I have to spend to shave a decent amount of the white Alba truffles over pasta? Where would be the best place to buy them in NYC?

                    I have tried truffle oils..I have at home a grapeseed oil with truffles that I bought in SW France a few years ago. I suppose I need to throw that out by now; it never had a lot of truffle aroma even right after I brought it home. I also have an olive oil with truffles, but I was hoping to have a chance to taste the real thing...

                    If I go through with this plan, should I just make a plain pasta? And dress it with butter before shaving the truffles?

                    1. re: erica
                      Delucacheesemonger Nov 2, 2008 10:13 PM

                      Fresh pasta, not dried, unsalted french butter, and freshly shaved parmigiano reggiano. One white truffle the size of the last section of your thumb should work for 2. Splurge, buy a truffle slicer, mandolin will work, knife will not, no matter how good your knife skills are.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                        erica Nov 3, 2008 03:14 AM


                        Now to find the best place/prices for good quality...Fairway?

                        When I was at DiPalo the other day, someone called to ask about truffles and they referred the person to Buon Italia.

                        I do not see any mention on CH of SOS Chefs/Trufette in the East Village on Avenue B...just curious about that store...(not necessarily for truffles, although I think they sell them)

                        1. re: erica
                          MMRuth Nov 3, 2008 03:40 AM

                          You might also try Ideal Cheese - I spoke to them about this last year and they can order them from Italy for you. At that time, they said that they were so unbelievably expensive, and the quality not so great, that they refused to order them for me. Instead, my husband bought 4 oz each of black and white Oregon truffles, and by January, I was pretty truffled out. I'll post a link later to a wonderful recipe (similar to that posted by Delucacheesemonger) that I made with some black truffles and pasta.

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            RCC Nov 3, 2008 06:03 AM


                            We're the Oregon truffles purchased from Ideal Cheese?
                            Are they very different from the European ones?

                            1. re: RCC
                              MMRuth Nov 3, 2008 06:46 AM

                              No - my husband found them on line I think - I'll find the link for you later on General Topics (or you can search user:mmruth title:truffles on that board, it should come up - last December or January). They aren't as good, but they are pretty damn good.

                          2. re: erica
                            MMRuth Nov 3, 2008 03:49 AM

                            Here's the recipe:


                            And I reported on the results a couple of posts down.

                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger
                        Fuffy Nov 29, 2009 02:53 PM

                        Yes, I bought a white truffle at Fairways several years ago which was totally tasteless. The problem of knowing when a truffle is fresh put me off ever trying again.

                      3. p
                        PAULSCOHEN Nov 2, 2008 08:50 AM

                        hi erica, i've done the truffle thing at home a few times. a had pretty good success at Fairways Market on the w.side,Thier price was expensive but more reasonable than Dean &Deluca, Grace Balducci's Marketplace.At $3000/lb your talking $187.50/ oz. but 50-60 grams of tartufo d'Alba the white Italian truffle should serve 4 people although i could be a real truffle hound or pig and eat the whole thing myself.Truffles are incedible on pasta,risotto and scrambled eggs. If you find the price is too steep try some white truffle oil at about $30. for 8.8 liquid oz, or some truffle butter by D'Artagnan.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: PAULSCOHEN
                          il Trifulau Nov 2, 2008 03:15 PM

                          Did truffles come down this year?
                          Last season they were about $220 per ounce (or 28 grams).
                          One serving of truffles is 7 grams, roughly one-quarter ounce.

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