Decadent, extravagant, and one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, the truffle is “the diamond of the kitchen,” according to the 18th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin. And indeed it is. Shaved and sliced over pasta, fish, foie gras, and even served in a dessert, this wild fungi is easy to find in New York restaurants, elevating dishes into a higher realm with its potent earthiness. With so many truffle dishes showing up on menus, it’s hard to think of them as a delicacy, but New Yorkers are lucky that way.
There are many varieties of truffles, ranging from the popular black to one of the most expensive: the white truffle from Alba, Italy, is so expensive that a 1.6-pound white truffle recently sold for $150,000 during the 79th White Truffle Festival in Alba, Italy. Fortunately, we can taste white truffles from Alba at three of New York’s finest restaurants. At venerable Gotham Bar & Grill, chef Alfred Portale serves it in his potato gnocchi with porcini emulsion while chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park shaves this rare truffle over tagliolini with parmigiano-reggiano for a decadent dish. Chef Michael White at Marea also serves the white truffles from Alba with pasta, in this case, tagliatelle.
The black truffle, not as over-the-top as the white truffle, is still a rare delicacy. Chef Humm is serving them with the foie gras, with sweetbreads, and the blue foot chicken. At Dovetail, they appear in a seafood dish crafted by chef John Fraser: the halibut confit with truffles from Burgundy. At SHO Shaun Hergatt, near the New York Stock Exchange, Nantucket Bay scallops are enhanced with black truffles.
The intense flavor of truffles is a natural accompaniment to the mildness of eggs. Tocqueville adds them to the creamy parmesan grits and sunny side up egg with house cured veal bacon, an appetizer that sounds perfect for brunch. Gotham Bar & Grill serves perigord truffles in the egg “cocotte.” But pasta seems the most popular dish for truffles: chef Sandro Fioriti shaves black truffles onto spaghetti, making a simple dish sophisticated.
And if all that weren’t decadent enough: the dessert menu at Gotham Bar & Grill features a Rome apple and black truffle tart tatin with vanilla yogurt ice cream and caramel sauce, a successful sweet/savory combination.
While truffles are being foraged in the wilds of Europe, all we New Yorkers have to do is make a reservation.
To read more of Tracey’s food adventures, visit her blog.
103 W. 77th St.
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave.
Gotham Bar & Grill
12 E. 12th St.
240 Central Park West
306 E. 81st St.
Sho Shaun Hergatt
40 Broad St.
15 E. 15th St.