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Truffle newbie....

Ive never had truffles before but am dying to try it. Can anyone recommend somewhere that I can try a great truffle dish? I figuered I should try it once before I go all out for one of those truffle tasting menus. Thanks!

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  1. Truffles are going to be pricey to begin with, but how crazy do you want to go for a single dish?

    Melisse in Santa Monica has a Melted Egg dish for I think $115 and well as some pastas, etc.

    Spago would also be a great place to go to. Perhaps even combine truffles with the DineLA menu (is it still available?) for a bit of savings... The sweet corn agnolotti with white truffles for instance.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LATrapp

      Got to try the truffles with pasta as a supplement at melisse this weekend. They were very generous with the white truffle. Highly recommended

    2. the least expensive way, as far as i know, is to get the truffle pizza with caramelized onions that is on the bar menu at cafe del rey in marina del rey. i costs only ~$15 or so.

      1 Reply
      1. re: westsidegal

        Il Grano has a truffle pizza with honey but it's not on the menu.

      2. Certainly the least expensive way to taste truffle flavor is to buy a bottle of truffle infused oil. It's not the same as the real thing but at least it will give you a sense of what it will taste like. Real truffles taste like a really musky, funky garlic. I had them at Angelini Osteria in their scrambled egg truffle appetizer, which costs around $60-70. Eggs have such a mild flavor that it allows the pungency of the truffle to take over and shine through.

        Mr Taster

        6 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          Now, there's an understatement -- "not the same as the real thing." Sorry, Mr Taster, but I avoid "truffle" oil like it's H1N1. I just hate the flavor. See "Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles" ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/din... ) for in-depth reasons.

          I do agree that dtm323 has the right goal -- simplicity. I once had a black-truffle tasting menu in Nice that was striking at first but ultimately unappealing, because of the underlying complexity of most dishes, which the distinctive truffles merely confused. Not long after, I was eating at the Phoenician in Phoenix, and the waiter offered to shave a little white truffle over a simple risotto dish. It was fabulous, despite the fact that, according to google maps, Arizona is literally miles from Alba and the tubers had to be days from dogs, pigs, and trees.

          1. re: Harry Nile

            Fascinating article. However, while your point is certainly respectable, it does nothing to help the OP find a cost effective way to find out if they even find the flavor and aroma of truffles palatable before investing in an "inexpensive" $60 appetizer of scrambled eggs, let alone a $100+ entree.

            If professional chefs enjoyed truffle oil for years before "looking behind the curtain", then why would you think DrGunner, as a total truffle newbie, would find it objectionable? Incremental steps are a great way to experience something new. It also gives you a history and perspective so that you can ultimately appreciate the creme de la creme.

            For a beginner, truffle oil is a perfectly fine way to stick your big toe in the truffle pool before deciding to dig that giant hole in your backyard.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Unfortunately, Mr Taster, I must (again) respectfully disagree. I have always thought the stuff stinks, whether you're pouring it at home or some expensive kitchen is using it to avoid buying the real McCoy.

              However, my fingers were very careless on that last post: (1) I meant to include the following link on a white truffle dinner at the great Valentino. It provides pictures and interesting examples of what the OP might hope for eventually: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/469114 (2) I inadvertently copied part of a reply I was writing for yet another thread on truffles to this one (the reference to dtm323). Sorry for that, but you can't expect us computer scientists to keep all this newfangled technology straight!

              1. re: Harry Nile

                Valentino? Remember, the OP is looking for an *inexpensive* way to test out truffles-- remember, he has no idea what they taste or smell like. Believe it or not, it is entirely possible that he might not like them. Better to find out that choice bit of info with a $15 investment rather than a $150 tasting menu.

                I like the suggestion below about truffle butter for the same reasons I am suggesting oil. It's an inexpensive vehicle to find out whether the musky funk of truffles appeals to you. Those are the suggestions that the OP needs right now. Save the Valentino-style suggestions for when DrGunner reposts 6 months later with the subject header "Truffle addict!!!"

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Taster, the OP wants recommendations on "a great truffle dish" -- not a great inexpensive truffle dish -- to try before going "all out for one of those truffle tasting menus." That's a good plan, because an entire evening of truffle this and truffled that would be brutal if you didn't like the distinctive flavor. For me, "a great truffle dish" requires actual truffles of the earth, not lab-created "2,4-dithiapentane ... [and the other chemicals used for truffle oil, whose] one-dimensional flavor is ... changing common understanding of how a truffle should taste," as noted in the NY Times story that I referenced above.

                  You won't find greater (white) truffle dishes in Southern California than at Valentino ( http://www.valentinorestaurant.com/va... ), and the pictures from the other thread (again, referenced above) indicate just how generous they can be with them. I recommend that our OP try one of those dishes. Keep in mind, as Perceptor notes in that thread: "White truffle is not shown in the menu nor in their tasting menu. Just ask them and they can incorporate white truffle in anything [during the season, of course]."

                  -----
                  Valentino (Santa Monica
                  )3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405

                  1. re: Harry Nile

                    Well we've certainly laid out the gamut of options and so it's up to DrGunner to decide what works best for him (or her). To my mind, $60 is way too much money to invest in trying something out (unless we're talking about skydiving perhaps.)

                    Mr Taster

        2. The mushroom guy at the Calabasas farmers market (Saturday, 8:30 - 1) has had both black truffles (from France) and white truffles (from Italy) for the last several weeks. I don't remember the exact price points, but it's something like $200/pound for the black and $1,000/pound for the white. Of course, nobody would buy a pound of either (he doesn't HAVE a pound of either), but I watched him weigh out a marble-sized white truffle and tell the prospective buyer it would run him $125. The prospective buyer backed off quickly, saying, "I believe I'll think that over."

          By the way, this guy has a big selection of mushrooms, ranging from basic button mushrooms to some pretty exotic ones, at decent prices. He told me that aside from the truffles, all of the mushrooms he sells are from California -- ranging from relatively local to the Monterey area to way up north near the Oregon border. On Saturday I got some very nice maitake (hen of the woods) at $24/pound and some really excellent porcini (cepe) at $60/pound. I sliced the porcinis thin, sauteed them in a little olive oil, and flopped them on top of over-easy eggs for breakfast Sunday -- Ms. Dr. Oz's favorite breakfast EVER. They were sweet, firm, and absolutely delicious.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ozhead

            That's a great find. When I lived in the Bay Area, I used to get fresh Oregon porcini at my local Andronico's Market, but in the last five years here I haven't seen these beauties in any store. You put them to good use at breakfast. Another straightforward idea is to brush with olive oil, broil very lightly -- over a wood fire, if possible (but never overcook porcini) -- and serve whole as an appetizer.

          2. go here and buy some white truffle cream: http://www.trufflecafe.com/default.aspx

            make a grilled cheese sandwich, substitute the white truffle cream for butter.

            voila! good first taste of white truffle for a low price.

            1. Go to Surfas and buy this: http://www.culinarydistrict.com/Produ...

              They also carry white truffle butter, but the black truffle is more forgiving if you've never used it before.

              Easy recipe - Cook fettuccine until done and drained, add some salt and pepper and add a couple of tablespoons of the black truffle butter to finish the pasta.

              -----
              Surfas Restaurant & Supply
              8777 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

              1. Sor Tino in Brentwood was offering a black truffles over asparagus ravioli the other evening, for $40. Delicious, and she brought out the truffle for us to look at and smell before they shaved it. Rich enough that you might want to share the dish. They fresh fettucini with wild mushrooms was amazing too. Plus they have one of the most reasonably priced Italian wine lists in the city.