Truffles are a pricey delicacy with the white Alba truffles costing over $3,600 up to $5,600 a pound, and the black Perigord truffles cost over $1200 a pound. It's so treasured that truffle oil is frequently used to finish dishes from risotto to fries to popcorn. Originally a way to stretch truffles, it's now primarily oil with a synthetic truffle flavoring, known as 2,4-dithiapentane.
And chances are these delicacies are going to get only more expensive. Climate change has reduced and delayed harvests, and many people and restaurants are switching to less expensive truffle varieties.
Truffle lovers, high rollers and otherwise, want to jump on trying the real thing while it's still somewhat accessible in price. For the first time truffler, the best way to experience them is to inhale deeply. The earthy, sensual aroma is the key part of the experience; the flavor of the truffle shavings on the tongue a little closer to dirt.
The season for the most popular variety, Alba truffles, starts in October and typically ends in December or January. However, there are still some truffles hanging around D.C. restaurants.
Fiola wraps up its 2nd Annual White Truffle Festival this weekend. During the festival, customers have been able to try white truffles at cost— $3.50 a gram. Visitors can pick out the truffle of choice from the varying sizes and shave it on their meal. The restaurant recommends trying it with some classic pairings like egg noodle parmesan, risotto, or duck egg with bacon.
At The Oval Room's menu right now is a truffled pasta, which features the lesser Burgundy black truffle and toasted hazelnuts.
Will Artley at Pizzeria Orso has periodically been getting in batches of white truffles, which he's using on his pizzas.
At the moment CityZen is not serving truffles, but due to the creation of the menu based on the availability of quality ingredients, this can change from day to day. Though reservations can be hard to come by, those who eat at the bar should call ahead to find out if truffles are available on the menu.
Even though the season is nearly done, keep an eye out later this year for special truffle dinners and dishes from restaurants like Bibiana, Elisir, and The Federalist. One perennial favorite is Dino, which held a six-course truffle dinner inclusive of cheese course and dessert for $120 this past November.
Note: The dates of Fiola's truffle promotion have been corrected..
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