It's the beginning of November and Italophiles know exactly what that means: white truffles. And Los Angeles chefs are celebrating the season with elaborate and accomplished truffle dishes and menus.
Here's a sampling of truffle dishes and special menus, most available now through the end of the truffle season in late December. Note that prices can change often.
Providence co-owner and manager Donato Poto says truffles this year are much more affordable, costing at least $20 less per dish than last year. That's because there's sufficient quantity and good quality, though he cautions that prices can change every week.
At Providence, chef Michael Cimarusti is featuring white truffles in classic dishes such as ravioli all'uovo (handmade ravioli with an egg inside), pasta alla chitarra, white truffle risotto and soft scrambled eggs with a fondue of Reblochon de Savoie and shaved white truffle. A full order of any of those dishes will run $80 right now if the prices hold. Cimarusti can also create a White Truffle Menu Spontanée, which can run anywhere from six to seven courses at about $500 per person.
Providence, 5955 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles (323) 460-4170, www.providencela.com. Truffle dishes, $80; truffle menu, about $500 per person.
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, only, chef Steve Samson of Sotto is holding a special "Sopra" dinner event with an option to add white truffles to certain items. Sopra means "above" in Italian and this dinner celebrates the food of northern Italy as opposed to Sotto's usual southern Italian fare. Adding truffles to an antipasti of carne cruda all'Albese (raw beef Alba-style) or langaroli pasta with fonduta (cheese sauce) and veal jus will cost $50 per person per dish.
Sotto, 9575 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles (310) 277-0210, www.sottorestaurant.com. The menu is $55 per person, and any truffles $50 per person per dish.
At Patina in downtown Los Angeles, executive chef Paul Lee will be preparing a six-course white truffle menu which begins with truffled egg with creme fraiche, followed by cauliflower panna cotta with sea urchin, then a white truffle risotto with sweetbread and chicken oyster. A Hokkaido scallop from Japan precedes veal loin with potato gnocchi and shiitake mushroom. Dessert is Mont Blanc with candied chestnut.
Patina, 141 S. Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles, www.patinarestaurant.com. Six-course white truffle tasting menu, $310 per person. For reservations, call (213) 972-3331.
At Valentino, Piero Selvaggio has always made it a point to have the best truffles throughout the season. This year is no exception. And so chef Nico Chessa is shaving truffles over raviolini made with quail eggs, ravioli all'uovo, carpaccio, risotto and homemade tagiolini. This week, the truffle surcharge is $60 for an appetizer, $90 for a main course. White truffles can also be incorporated into a tasting dinner for up to $50 per course.
Valentino, 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica (310) 829-4313, www.valentinosantamonica.com. Truffle surcharge, $50 to $90.
And last, SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés has planned a 16-course white truffle tasting menu, which will be served until Nov. 22. Their truffles come from Abruzzo, in Italy’s south, foraged by Michael and Marco Pietroiacovo, aka the Truffle Brothers.
SAAM at the Bazaar by José Andrés, 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. 16-course truffle menu, $350 per person, Thursday to Saturday until Nov. 22. For reservations, call (310) 773-5460; sbe.com.
Or maybe you'd rather cook them yourself. This year, says Marco Guidi of the Italian food and wine importer Guidi Marcello, prices are lower—at least at this point in the season--than they have been. He's selling them at this Santa Monica shop for $150 an ounce right now.
Not sure what to do with a truffle? Shave fine slices over softly scrambled or coddled free range eggs. Or serve a shower of the highly perfumed truffles over a plate of tagliolini tossed in good butter. But don't wait too long: truffles lose their potency by the day.