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Monday, December 13th, 2004

My first truffle

I’ve ordered my fair share of truffle-flecked dishes at restaurants, added truffle oil to foods I make at home and I even own a truffle shaver, but I’ve never purchased or eaten a whole truffle before. I always had romantic notions of where my first truffle buying experience would be… maybe France? Somewhere in Italy? Hell, at least in a fancy deli in New York. So imagine my surprise that my first time would be at Uwajimaya.

I was there over the weekend and saw Styrofoam packages of white and black truffles for sale. I picked up a tray of the white ones—they were awfully cheap ($4 for a small package / $79 per pound) and had an odd gasoline-like smell through the wrapper, but curiosity won out and I bought them.

So today I was thinking I should probably cook those bad-boys up. I did a little online truffle research, only to find that I should have eaten them immediately after purchase. Ooops. I went and checked on them; they didn’t seem soggy so I decided it wasn’t too late.

I wanted something supremely simple and plain, so that I could really taste the truffle. I found the perfect recipe at splendid table. My friend picked up some fresh linguine from DeLaurenti and I already had a good block of Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh butter, so we were all set. I also had two Pork Lau Lau (pork, pork fat, butterfish and salt wrapped in taro leaves) that I got at Uwajimaya as well and needed to eat, so we had a rather strange dinner.

The pasta was really good, except I didn’t follow the recipe and didn’t use nearly enough butter. I shaved the truffles on top and dug in. The truffles had a hint of flavor, but tasted more like old mushroom than truffle. On second thought, it was kind of like having little wood shavings on top of your pasta—a little crunchy and surprisingly dry.

The Pork Lau Lau, on the other hand, was amazing. After heating and unwrapping them, I was a little skeptical because they looked like they were packed solid with pork fat. But after you scoop away the top layer of fat you’re left with some seriously succulent and well-flavored pork, and butterfish that melts like, well, butter.

The verdict? Don’t buy truffles at Uwajimaya, but you SHOULD buy the Pork Lau Lau. Lots and lots of them. Save your truffle money and spend it at DeLaurenti. Yes, $2,000 per pound sounds like a lot, but… well, it is a lot. They’re truffles. What do you expect?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Shop Blue

After reading Consumer Whore’s article on the ShitBegone™ economic embargo against red states, my friend did some research on where to shop blue and sent me this handy link:

So in summary, these companies are GOOD:
American Rice
Ben & Jerry’s
Campbell Soup
King Arthur Flour
Trader Joe’s
Whole Foods

And these companies should be avoided:
California Pizza Kitchen
Domino’s brands
General Mills Inc. (yes, this includes Pillsbury, Cheerios, Yoplait, Betty Crocker and Haagen-Dazs)
Goya Foods, Inc
H. J. Heinz Company (what?!)
Hershey Foods
Krispy Kreme
Kroger / QFC
McIlhenny Company (put down that Tabasco!)
Nestle Purina (no more Friskies for Dylan… poor kitty)
Olive Garden
Outback Steakhouse
Papa John’s
TGI Friday’s
White Castle
YUM brands (which includes KFC, Pizza Hut & Taco Bell—more like YUK)

You can also go to the site and get a blue-friendly grocery list for stores in your state. Speak with your dollars!

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

Christmas has arrived early

The day I anticipate all year came last night when I found the latest Grateful Palate catalog in my mailbox. Dan Philips, a.k.a Captain Bacon, is the genius behind the Bacon of the Month Club. The guy that travels all over the country to bring us the finest specimens of bacon. His Grateful Palate catalog is beautifully designed and the mouthwatering descriptions of the bacon offerings are as sophisticated as wine tasting notes.

I urge everyone who isn’t already on their mailing list to sign up (the new catalog site doesn’t look like it’s up yet, but check back—it’s worth it).

Captain Bacon also co-hosts Aphrodisiac Bacon Dinners for those lucky enough to live in Washington DC. Maybe I should move there. It would be like Christmas once a month.