I once had to drop off a cd to a producer who was sitting at a fancy Italian restaurant. I walked in and handed him the cd and his dinner guest, who I also knew, invited me to sit down, poured me a glass of magnificent Italian wine and asked if I would like to join them for a plate of pasta. I didn’t really have anywhere else to be and I didn’t want to seem impolite so I accepted. The guest called the waiter over and requested a third plate of truffle pasta. It was not until then that I realized that the plate of pasta of which he was referring was featuring the rare, expensive, bovine sniffed white truffle – Imported from Italy at great expense – and served with pride and pomp by none other than the owner himself. It wasn’t like I sat down, looked at the menu and thought ‘I know, I will stick it to these guys and order the most expensive plate of pasta that I have ever seen.” On the contrary, I didn’t even order it. I was just being polite.
What followed was one of the most sublime and amazingly simple and elegant pleasures of the culinary world. I had tasted truffles before, mainly the oil or the black ones – which I felt were too strong and overpowering – but this was heaven.
Since then I have actually treated myself to this a few times. Our favorite Italian restaurant in New York features the same pasta this time of year and, during restaurant week, has it for half price (which is still really expensive for a plate of pasta).
Finding the little knob of rich delight is another challenge. Your best bet is a good cheese shop or other gourmet store. You will have to ask and sometimes they might have to order them if they can get them at all. Don’t be surprised by the price. You could end up paying more than a good dinner for 4 for one little truffle. A little one will go a long way as they are really fragrant and pretty strong.
This is a real treat. They are not for everyone and the price is certainly a turn off. But if you are feeling flush, you will not regret the meal.
- Small White Truffle
- Really Good Olive Oil
- 1 lb. Taglierini or Spaghetti
- Unsalted Butter
- Salt and Pepper
- Large Pot
- Vegetable Peeler or other Shaving device. A small paring knife will do or a mandolin
- Boil a pot of water.
- Salt liberally.
- Add pasta and cook for prescribed amount until al dente.
- Strain pasta.
- Serve in bowls with a little knob of butter, a drizzle of really good olive oil and some cracked pepper.
- Stir together.
- Shave several very thin slices of white truffle over each bowl.