Friday, February 25, 2011

Truffling in LA

Truffling in LA is easy. There's no need to put your wellies and Barbour on, leash your pig and head into the depths of a remote Italian forest. Save yourself the hassle and just go to your local eatery.

I bet you a buck they will have something involving truffles on the menu (mail me your notarized menu to claim your winnings... frankly I'm not too worried). Or at least, truffle oil. It won't be long before the Starbucks out here do a truffle frappucino. And I'm sure pinkberry offer a drizzle of truffle oil on their froyo. I never go in Urth cafe, as TLOML says it's full of pretentious tossers with laptops - and my Big Corp Thinkpad and yellow post-its would probably get me laughed out of the place. But I bet they have truffle oil in cans on every table. Seriously, the Los Angelenos are MAD for it. (Americans, that means 'crazy for it' not 'angry for it', just to be clear).

And we're not talking a hint of delicately shaved truffle. We're talking so much truffle oil you can smell it the moment the kitchen door opens and the waiter comes towards you carrying your truffled fries. Even if you're sitting outside. And the kitchen is a block away. To quote Colette, it seems the view here is "If I can't have too many truffles, I'll do without truffles."

I first knew I had been thinking too much about truffles when in bed late one night, having had a lovely dinner at Nobu Malibu, a good half an hour after my head had hit the pillow, I sat bolt upright and announced - to the slumbering TLOML - 'I don't like truffle on white fish!'. It was true, I didn't. But I didn't notice while I was hoovering up a plateful of the stuff. It was only later, having brushed and mouthwashed my teeth like a good 'un, as the truffle oil still insisted itself on my senses, I realised that was the only thing I had tasted. Was it on halibut? Or Pacific sole? It might as well have been an old shoe for all I tasted it. Damn that truffle oil!

And no, if you're interested, TLOML did not mind being woken up for this announcement. He agreed and went straight back to sleep. While I lay awake trying to figure out what truffle oil would be nice on.

For weeks since, TLOML and I have debated this. Should the musty truffle be paired with something strong and robust, a flavour that can stand up to it, like artichoke or steak?  Or something so bland and tasteless you don't mind it fading underneath the fungus? Chicken, tofu, white fish? Hmm, maybe Nobu were on to something. But somehow we didn't think so.

Today we found the answer. Crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil, over brunch at Gjelina in Venice, with TLOML's charming aunt, his cousin, and her lovely boyf. You know you're going to have a good brunch when the aforementioned boyf orders 2 pizzas and those truffly spuds 'for the table' on top of everyone's eggy mains.

Yes, potatoes are the answer. They don't mind at all being hit hard over the head with some musty, fungal oil. They actually like it. Read people harping on about them  on Yelp if you don't believe me.

Finally, months after I landed, I have been converted to the truffle craze. And now, if I can't have too many crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil, I'll do without crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil. (Apologies to Colette).

Yum. And some.

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