Saturday, July 25, 2009

What do to with a pound of black summer truffles

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This week marks my shift from avid home cook to truly obsessive foodie, courtesy of the summer black truffle. And Kelly Orange at Specialty Produce is my enabler.

On Thursday, Kelly called to say that she had a pound of Italian black summer truffles for me, at a very good price. I said: Oh yes. At 6:30am yesterday, I was in a Carl's Jr. parking lot near the La Cienega exit of the 10 freeway. I pulled up next to a white pickup. Both engines were running. I opened my window; he handed me a small brown box. To anyone else, I'm sure it looked like a drug deal. I drove home with my goods, put them in the refrigerator. And started planning the party.

An aside here: I am so lucky to be married to my husband. I imagine that most men, should their wives call and breathlessly tell them they've just spent a bundle on truffles, would say one of two things. One: "Are you nuts?" Or two: "That's nice, dear." Whereas Michael said: "That's fantastic! Who's on the list?" Because, of course, at that point the party was implied, a given. That's my husband - always happy to be throwing the party. For which, among other things, I love him dearly.

But what to do with said truffles? For the, um, let's see, close to 30 people coming to share the bounty? (Note: Many people will cancel existing plans in order to attend a truffle party.)

I started by soliciting some professional advice, which I compiled into an article for my LA Cooking Examiner column (read it here). Truffles seem to have some common and willing companions: eggs, potatoes, pasta, rice. It's best to pair truffles with bland backgrounds, so the earthy-muddy flavor of the truffles can shine. I love the recipe for tagliatelle with black truffle sauce I got from Alex Palermo, the owner of Cube Cafe & Marketplace on La Brea - just pounded truffles, oil and garlic, nothing else. The simpler, the better.

Professional tips in hand, I set out to make a menu for tomorrow's Trufflepalooza. So far it looks like this:
  • Tartines with truffle butter and thinly sliced radishes (see the recipe here)
  • Crostini with fresh ricotta, honey, thyme and shaved truffles
I would like to note here that yes, I do know that tartines and crostini are essentially the same thing: toast. But one combination is traditionally French, the other very Italian. Thus the semi-pretentious nomenclature.
  • Truffled egg salad
  • Roasted potato "chips" with fontina and shaved truffles
  • Truffled fresh corn pudding
  • Spaghetti with butter, cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano and grated truffles
  • Filet mignon bites with truffle butter
  • Emery's salad with truffle vinaigrette, pancetta and grated truffles
  • Truffle honey ice cream with fresh figs
I think that should use up a pound of truffles.

I can't wait for the party - and yes, I'll post lots of photos.

2 comments:

Fresh Local and Best said...

I am so excited for your truffle dinner! The exchange at Carl's Jr might as well have been a drug deal, these babies are so highly sought after.

Erika said...

Last year's exchange did indeed feel like a drug deal. This year, much more civilized: I met my friend Franco at his office/warehouse and even got a receipt!

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