I HEART BACON
Wednesday, December 29th, 2004

An Ode to Bacon

After seeing the food poems at The Grocery Cart Poet, I decided to try and locate some bacon poems. I didn’t quite find what I was looking for, but I did find some unusual food poems…

Pork Rind Fever
Odes to SPAM
Love Poem to a Hot Dog
Omnivorous (Or Die)
Eating

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004

Union

My Dad is still in town and he took my mom and me out for our customary fancy dinner. The last one wasn’t so great, so he let me choose this time. I had been wanting to go to Union since last Christmas, when I read the absolutely glowing review by Nancy Leson, whom I trust explicitly with my taste buds.

I used to work in the building above the restaurant and have seen the space in its many incarnations, so I was shocked and pleased that they managed to create such an inviting atmosphere. It was actually warm and dining companions were audible, despite the 30 foot high ceilings.

There were many, many delicious sounding items on the menu, but I figured the best way to get most of them into my mouth would be via the tasting menu. And a tasting menu wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying drinking menu (a.k.a. paired wines), so we ordered both. This was what we were served:

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Butter (amuse bouche #1) –

Very good with a strong artichoke flavor cut with cream and butter. It was oh, so very smooth; just the way I like my soup. This was served in a dainty espresso cup, but I wanted a vat of it.

Smoked Salmon & Grilled Shitake with Leek Vinaigrette (amuse bouche #2) –

The salmon was really moist and succulent—almost like gravlax. The initial taste of cold salmon and warm, grilled shitake was a little strange, but the aftertaste mellowed out.

NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs, New Mexico

Oysters with Cucumber, Caviar and Chive Mignonette

This was FANTASTIC. I can’t remember the name of the oysters but they are transplanted from elsewhere (Japan?) and raised in Shelton, Washington. The first taste is the salt of the oyster, which turns creamy as you bite into it and then finishes with a fresh, clean taste from the mignonette. I am convinced now that oysters and cucumbers were separated at birth. They are so wonderful together, yet I would have never thought of pairing them. This dish was served with a sweet Riesling which was another unusual pairing, but it was perfect. Mom doesn’t eat oysters so she requested an alternate dish, which was a beautiful tower of salad and parmesan cheese sitting on oddly delicious and spicy ginger salami.

2002 Carl Graff Riesling Spatlese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

Poached Duck Egg with Baby Turnip Soup

The waiter brought out bowls, each with a perfectly poached egg sprinkled with a little red salt. Then a gravy boat is used to pour in the soup, around the egg. The duck egg was runny and when you cut into it, the orange yolk blended into the soup. It was heavenly. I tend to love things with turnips in them, but for some reason I can’t pin down exactly what turnips taste like. This particular soup tasted a lot like an excellent vichyssoise.

2003 Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley

Roasted Sturgeon with Braised Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Basil Oil

This was my favorite dish—surprising, since my last experience with Sturgeon was not so great. I think the fish may have been bad or farm-raised (if that’s even possible with Sturgeon) because it tasted dirty, like catfish sometimes does. This Sturgeon was not like that at all. It was perfectly cooked with a flaky inside and a crisp seared crust. The Sturgeon came on a bed of black trumpet mushrooms, which I’ve never had before. They are now my favorite mushroom.

2001 Belles Soeures Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Seared Muscovy Duck Breast on Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I was really excited to try this because I had been eying a similar recipe in my new Bouchon cookbook which paired duck and Brussels sprouts. The combination is amazing. I can’t even tell you why, but it’s delicious. The duck was beautifully sliced and fanned, so you could see the rare meat and the crunchy layer of perfect, crisp fat.

2000 Ryan Patrick Vineyards Meritage, Columbia Valley

Chimay Grand Cru

An ale-washed cow’s milk cheese from Belgium, served with a frisee salad and toasted walnuts. A wonderful, mild and creamy soft cheese.

2003 Mas de Guiot Grenache / Syrah, Vin de Pays du Gard

Mango Sorbet with Vanilla Oil

This was a palate cleanser and even though I love mango, I really didn’t like this. The combo of mango and vanilla was altogether too floral—a lot like eating your grandmother’s hand cream, except that it was cold. Mom loved this, so she ate all of mine.

Espresso Pot de Creme

Here is a list of exclamations at the table after the first bite: Ohhhh! Amazing! Decadent! Luxuriant! Silken! Rich! Mmmmmm.

2002 Bodegas Ochoa Moscatel, Navarra

The tasting menu was $48 per person, plus an additional $40 with the accompanying wines. I can’t wait to go back as soon as the tasting menu changes so I can try more of Ethan Stowell’s amazing food…

Union on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 27th, 2004

Dad’s Jook Recipe

Dad made jook from the Christmas turkey carcass and I finally got the recipe!

1. Take turkey carcass and pull off only the meat that comes off easily. Place in a large pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the meat is falling off the bone, about 30-45 minutes.

2. Add 1 stick of celery, 1 small whole onion (if making jook from ham, stick one clove into the onion), 1 bay leaf, 2-3 teaspoons salt and 4 peppercorns. Continue simmering until the onion is very soft, another 45-60 minutes.

3. Remove celery, onion, bay leaf and all bones, fat and if desired, skin. Spoon off all fat/grease that rises to the top.

4. Add 1 to 2 cups of rice, depending on how thick you want your jook. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for at LEAST four hours but preferably overnight (we left it on the stove overnight on the lowest heat). The jook is done when the rice ‘melts’. If soup is too thick, add water until it reaches the desired consistency.

This recipe can be used to make jook from just about anything—I want to try it with a ham or chicken next…

Serve with potato chips, preserved Chinese turnip, sliced green onions and soy sauce. Dad said you can also serve it with sliced 1,000 year old eggs or hard boiled duck eggs.

It was so delicious!

Sunday, December 26th, 2004

Christmas Feast

The family all came up to my Mom’s house on Whidbey island for Christmas day. We cooked up an amazing feast—everyone agreed that it was the best Christmas dinner yet.

Salumi salami – four of kinds of salami: mole, finoccio (fennel), sopressata and regular
Cold smoked salmon with capers, red onion and creme fraiche
Crab and dill toasts

Kosher turkey – slow grilled (indirect method) for 5 1/2 hours on the weber with mesquite (adding 5 coals to each side every half hour)
Oyster bread stuffing
Amazing gravy
Dill brined and grilled salmon
Cipollini onion relish
Savory clafoutis with chanterelles and spinach
Spinach Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Grapefruit
Steamed Romanesca cauliflower, drizzled with butter

Huckleberry pie from Whidbey Pies
Pumpkin-bay tart (from The Herb Farm cookbook)

After dinner we all jumped in the car and went on a Christmas light tour…

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Adding to the collection

My mom gave me a beautiful new egg cup for Christmas!

Saturday, December 25th, 2004

Christmas Eve

Let me start off by saying that I do not have a religious family. Christmas and all other major holidays have always just meant family, friends and food. I love the idea of holiday rituals, and even though we’re not religious, we still have rituals—but I have come to realize that they are somewhat… unique. For instance, when I was a kid our Christmas eve get together always had a theme.

The Cowboy Christmas started it off. Dad wanted cowboy boots, so my mom got him a pair. His brother bought him a cowboy hat. I got him a black satin shirt with embroidered red and white cards on the front. I was really young at the time and was so excited about picking that particular shirt out, thinking he’d actually wear it out of the house (I was wrong). Someone else brought bandana party favors for all the guests and from there it quickly grew out of control.

For the Miami Vice Christmas (yes, I’m so lucky to have grown up in the 80’s) everyone wore pastel T-shirts with white blazers and no socks. Mom found a shiny, baby-blue plastic palm tree that we decorated with pink lights for our Christmas tree. There were pink flamingos in our front yard.

Then there was the Russian Christmas where mom made borscht, homemade blinis with caviar and flavored infused vodkas—this was before you could just buy them at the liquor store. Dad made a gorgeous salmon en croute and painted St. Basil’s Cathedral with a Van Gogh Starry Night background on the dining room windows. My uncle dressed up as a Russian Cossack and threatened to make us wait in line for squares of toilet paper. From what I can remember, the night ended in my dad chasing my uncle around the dinning room table because he was after the last of the pepper vodka.

Next came a Dickens’ Christmas, which was an old fashioned English Christmas. My parents made a beautiful roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and my brother made an incredible gingerbread Big Ben—it was so amazing.

One of my favorite themes was the Hoo-Hung-Wu Christmas (our last name is Woo, so it was perfect). It was at the height of the murder mystery game craze and we did it up right. One of our guests that night was a Chinese seamstress and she brought robes, Chinese hats and fans for everyone. We even had dry ice going to lend an air of mystery. I was in charge of fanning the ice to make it wispy and I accidentally tipped the bucket off the railing and it landed on a guest…

Now that most of the children in the family are grown, we’ve moved on to more tame celebrations that involve a lot of singing. We mostly stick to Christmas carols, but we always sing a round of “No Woman No Cry” at the insistence of my uncle. Unfortunately, the majority of us are awful singers and have no memory for lyrics. A few years back, we played Christmas charades and the losers had to go outside and carol to the neighbors. About thirty seconds into the first song you could see porch lights going out all over the block. It was unbelievably hilarious and sad at the same time.

This year I was a little subdued because I still had a cold, but it was great to spend time with family and friends—talking, singing and enjoying the white elephant gift exchange. We had an appetizer party and everyone brought something. I couldn’t taste much because I was stuffed up, but what I could taste was great: shrimp fried rice, delicious marinated ribs, Asian-style chicken wings, cheese fondue, bagna cauda, artichoke dips, bacon wrapped dates, queso fundido and more.

It was a lot of fun, but a few people in the family are thinking we should bring back the theme Christmas. We’ll see what happens next year…


Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

The last holiday party!

I have done too much this holiday season and have been rewarded with a full-blown cold. I really want to see a small group of my friends though, so I invite them over for one last holiday get together. As I am sick, I can’t manage anything more than vacuuming my apartment, so I opt for a pizza party.

I’m trying to decide between Piecora’s and Hot Moma’s because Pagliacci won’t deliver to my house, because I’m something like one block outside their delivery area. Grrrr. So I’m whining about the lack of good delivery options when Zach suggests I order from Palermo Pizza.

I call up Palermo and order two medium pizzas, one with pepperoni and olives and the other a “Classico Meat” (pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage and salami). They arrive and are greasy and absolutely delicious—especially the one with the sausage. I had just purchased a bunch of furikake rice seasonings and have been dying to try them out, so I set them on the table. I have three flavors: wasabi (horseradish, bonito and wasabi), nori (seaweed) and katsuo (bonito). It turns out that katsuo fumi furikake is fabulous on pizza. It has a great salty and slightly fishy taste (think anchovy) and it has an unexpected and wonderful crunch.

Bob has brought his crazy and delicious chop salad which generally contains whatever he has in his fridge at the moment. This time it happened to be tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, green onions, pickles and imitation crab meat with a vinaigrette dressing. I took one look at it and thought, hey, I should toss my sea beans in there before they go bad. It was so, so good—the sea beans lending a briny crunch to an already great salad.

I wanted to try out Zach’s octodog as well, so I asked Kait to bring some sausages. She picked up some great bratwurst from Uli’s Sausage in the Market. The octodog came with cute little instructions, but I somehow thought that when it said “hotdog”, it meant anything hotdog-like. Please note that sausages are not meant to be used in the octodog. It mangled our poor little test sausage. Next time we will get bona-fide hotdogs.

Everyone forgot to bring drinks so we scavenged through my fridge and liquor cabinet and invented a new drink: non-alcoholic apple cider with a little amaretto. It was so delicious and comforting that we named it “The Nuzzler”.

For dessert, Zach brought gelato from Gelatiamo. For some reason, I didn’t care for the pistachio flavor, but the crème caramel was heavenly!

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

Date Night #2: Takohachi

It’s Zach’s turn to choose a new restaurant for us to try and he picks Takohachi in the International District. Mostly because it has the best sign ever; a bright red octopus wearing a bandana. As we pull up to the restaurant I notice the octopus has a tubular nose that seems oddly familiar. Zach points out that it looks like Q*Bert and it does!

We get inside and it’s a teeny, tiny restaurant that isn’t too clean, but something smells delicious so we sit down. The menu has mostly hot-pot noodles, with a few katsu-type dishes, teriyaki, curries and two types of sushi rolls. In addition to the items listed on the menu they have really cute hand-drawn pictures of the Winter specials.

Zach orders one of the Winter specials, Chiri-Nabe, which is described as a tofu and noodle hot-pot with chili vinegar sauce and your choice of fish or chicken or both. I chose the Tonkatsu with curry.

Zach’s hot pot comes out and it’s beautiful in its blazing hot iron pot. It looks deceptively simple and plain until you taste the broth. The broth is amazing with a slightly sour taste from the vinegar. The noodles seem like they must have been marinated in something or cooked in the broth because they’re so flavorful.

My katsu plate is gigantic. It looks like there might be a pound of beautifully breaded pork. The curry sauce is good as well, not too spicy or interesting on its own, but great with the crisp and juicy pork.

Halfway through our meal I notice a sign advertising homemade furikake (my new favorite condiment), so we order a dish to sprinkle over our rice. Granted, I haven’t had many experiences with furikake, but this one is the best I’ve had. Nice and salty because of something that looks and tastes like salmon jerky. I try and order some to go but then decide to head over to Uwajimaya and see what kind of furikake selection they have.

Our entire bill was under $17 and the lunch prices are even cheaper. They also do take out, so I’m thinking I’ll be frequenting this place.


Monday, December 20th, 2004

English Breakfast in Seattle

After finding Heinz baked beans at PFI, I was excited to cook my first traditional English breakfast. I learned a few days ago that in England you can order the breakfast as a 3, 5 or 7, which denotes how many different items are on the plate. I opted for the full seven, which included:

Fried eggs
Sausage
Bacon
Sauteed mushrooms with garlic and dried oregano
Fried tomatoes with parsley and parmesan
Heinz baked beans
Toast

It was delicious and now I’m officially addicted to those beans. They are so subtle yet flavorful with a light sweetness that is perfect on buttered toast. I wonder if I can order them by the case at PFI?

Sunday, December 19th, 2004

X-mas Party No. 3

I’m coming down with a cold and have already been to too many holiday parties, but my friends are throwing a Russian-themed holiday party. So off I go!

When I’m tired and sick I tend to crave junk food, so I convince Zach to stop at Dick’s before we go to the party. When you’re in the right mood, Dick’s burgers can be incredibly satisfying.

We arrive at the party and they have a nice assortment of fancy appetizers, but the only thing that seems to be Russian is the bottle of vodka I brought. But the appetizers are delicious (and all from the Epicurious website, so I’m told):

Rosemary tartletts with onions and walnuts
Goat cheese, lettuce and roast beef on crostini topped with roasted peppers
Stuffed mushrooms

After the party, we drive through Ballard and Zach gets nostalgic—so we stop at one of his favorite bars: the Tin Hat. It’s a smoky, casual bar that has lots of board games and I immediately like it. We end up playing cribbage and scrabble for several hours, so of course I get hungry again. Zach says the food is good, but I’m skeptical (by nature). I order a grilled cheese thinking that’s a fairly safe bet. It’s made with American cheese and it’s delicious; made with just the right amount of butter and seasoned with dried oregano and served with good hand-cut fries. Nothing I’d drive across town for, but… okay, maybe I would.

Saturday, December 18th, 2004

Date Night #1: Pretend Christmas

Zach is going home for the holidays, so we pretended like last night was Christmas. Except there was no family. And we didn’t cook. Okay, maybe I should just say that we went out for a nice evening and exchanged gifts.

We’re trying this new thing where we switch off twice a month and each choose a new place to try out for dinner. It was my turn to pick and I’ve always wanted to check out The Big Picture movie theater in Belltown. So I wanted to find a restaurant in the area where we could grab a quick bite before the 8:30pm showing. I had been hearing buzz about The Apartment Bistro, so decided to try it out.

I was a little worried that it was in Belltown and that it was a Friday night, but I was hoping that maybe the Apartment would be tucked away on a side-street. No such luck. It’s smack dab in the middle of the scene, right next door to Bada Lounge. It was packed—thankfully not with the meat market scene, but an older, after-work type crowd. Unfortunately that didn’t make it any less loud. The space is TINY and there are no carpets or soft things to absorb sound. The kitchen is tucked into the back, but somehow you can hear everything that’s going on and I think they turn up the music to cover the kitchen noise. So I saw a few diners actually screaming at each other to be heard over the noise; not exactly a fine dining environment.

The wait staff was really nice and got us stools at the bar right away. I had a Stoli martini and it was fantastic. Ice cold with just the right ratio of vodka, vermouth and melted ice. For dinner, I ordered the Miso Butterfish (which was actually black cod) and Zach chose the Grilled Rib-Eye with Cabrales Butter. We requested but never received the Caesar salad, which was too bad because it looked really good—the kind with a thick dressing drizzled over whole romaine hearts.

The Miso Butterfish was amazing. The fish was really fresh and absolutely buttery and the sauce was divine. I love miso, but sometimes it can be overpowering. They used it with such restraint that it almost made you wish there was more, until you realized that’s exactly why it’s so delicious. It came with a ball of rice that was sprinkled with a salty, bright green and addictive condiment. The waitress told us it was furikake—I guess I need to make another trip to the ID to pick some up. Underneath the fish was a delicious and pretty radish sprout salad with a light Asian dressing.

Zach’s gigantic rib-eye steak was equally as good. It was flavorful and chewy with wonderfully creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Drinks and dinner were so great that it made me sad that food like this is being served in what is essentially a meat market. But I decided I will have to go back… maybe at 5pm on a Monday it won’t be so crowded.

After dinner we walked down to The Big Picture. I have to say that this place is so cute and comfortable that I wanted to move in. After the experience at dinner, I was surprised that it was almost empty. We had a few cocktails and the ‘champagne popcorn’ (served in a champagne bucket) with cheese sprinkles. Mmmm. Cheese sprinkles.

Before going home, we stopped in for dessert at Il Bistro, again, surprisingly empty. We split a panna cotta garnished with caramel sauce and pomegranate seeds. It tasted like they used crème fraiche because it had a slightly sour taste—in a really good way. We also had two glasses of Strega which is a potent digestive made from a crazy mix of herbs like mint, fennel, and saffron.

When we got home, we plugged in the tree and opened presents. I got Thomas Keller’s new Bouchon cookbook!! It’s breathtakingly beautiful and slightly less complicated than the French Laundry one, so I’m excited to try it out. First up: Duck Confit with Brussels Sprouts.

Zach got an octodog. Long live the Frankfurter Converter™.

Friday, December 17th, 2004

Eating Crow

I had the best restaurant food of 2004 last night. The restaurant is called Crow and I had been hearing great things about it for a while and wanted to check out.

It’s in a converted warehouse space a few blocks from the Seattle Opera Hall. The space is lively, noisy and minimally decorated, with the exception of pretty splashes of orange and red on one wall. When I walked in it felt like I had been transported to Portland; it seemed so stylish, yet still casual.

They were extremely busy, so we were glad that we had made reservations earlier in the day. The menu was very simple—just one page, with four or five items in each of three sections; soups/salads, plates to share and entrees.

My friend ordered an iceberg wedge with Roquefort cheese—which I think is a HIGHLY underrated salad. It was a nice, crisp wedge with a pungent dressing. The one they serve at Morton’s is better, but only because it comes with anchovies.

I ordered the Manchego cheese, which was wrapped in grape leaves, grilled and served with ratatouille. The melted cheese was delicious paired with the slightly charred and crunchy leaves, and the ratatouille was some of the best I’ve ever had.

Our waitress made an excellent wine suggestion of a 2002 Monterey Côtes du Crow’s. It was spicy and delicious and went down way too easily. I asked where I could get a bottle (or two) and she said they sell it at Pete’s – my favorite wine store! It was reasonably priced too, so I’m thinking stocking stuffers for a select, lucky few.

For dinner, my vegetarian friend ordered the vegetable cassoulet, which was amazingly flavorful considering it only had vegetables in it (she said this, not me—but I have to agree with her). It also had a great texture with soft vegetables, silky broth and crunchy, buttery croutons.

I ordered the short ribs with mashed potato puree, on the waitress’s recommendation. I’m always critical of short ribs, because I really love the ones I make, but these blew me away and I wasn’t even expecting it. First off, they were a gigantic portion of beautiful ribs. A Stonehenge of meat, if you will, on a glistening sauce island with a hillside of fluffy and smooth potato puree. I took my first bite and my eyes rolled back into my head. I heard distant giggling and when I floated back to reality my friend was laughing and said, “It must be amazing. You had the strangest look on your face.” Apparently I have an odd food bliss expression.

But the meat deserves its own paragraph. It was so tender that I didn’t even pick up my knife. It tasted like… uh. Heaven? The sauce was slightly sweet, slightly salty and just the right thickness; like an excellent and time-consuming (French) beef reduction. The best part was the flavor of the meat—it had a bright, exotic spiciness to it, which turned out to be star anise.

As we were leaving I asked the waitress if they were always this busy and she nodded emphatically, “Since the day we opened four months ago, and we haven’t even advertised!”. That’s very impressive, but then again, so is the food.

Crow on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

If it looks like bacon…

This is so, so wrong, but I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time:
http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000070.php

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

Wild horses, please drag me away

I have a dilemma. I want to write about all my food experiences as honestly as possible, but what do you do when a good friend treats you to a dinner out and it’s awful?

I guess you write about it. Maybe I’ll just leave out names and details to protect the innocent. That, and hope he doesn’t read my blog for the next few weeks…

My friend and I did some work for RUI a while back and they gave him a gift card as a thank you. He wanted to use it, so he asked me to join him for dinner at Palomino. I was really excited to see him, but I wasn’t as excited about the restaurant.

Palomino has always seemed schizophrenic to me. The decor is trying to be upscale, but it’s located in a shopping mall (granted Barney’s of New York is in same building, but it’s still a shopping mall) and the menu is all over the map in price range and style. So you can get deep fried poppers for $6 or a filet mignon for $32.

I think that our problem may have been in what we ordered. It seems like the best thing to order in places like this are the plain, non-fancy things, like the pizza or cheese fries. We decided to order more ‘upscale’ and ‘healthy’ things; the mushroom salad, crab & artichoke dip, rotisserie chicken and Dungeness crab stuffed prawns.

The mushroom salad was good, but certainly not healthy; it was the richest salad I’ve ever eaten. It was a warm salad with hedgehog mushrooms in a rich, gravy-like sauce over a smattering of leaves with cheese piled on top. The crap appetizer was probably my favorite—but then again I’ve never met a crab dip that I didn’t like. Which is weird because I have VERY strong feelings against cream cheese in dips, but I guess that’s what actually makes them good. The dip was appropriately cheesy and gooey and served with pizza chips that desperately needed salt.

My chicken was rotisseried to death and stuffed with a strange filling that was not what I pictured when I ordered it. The menu said something about ‘pancetta’, so I figured “How could I go wrong?”. I guess you can’t go wrong if it actually is pancetta, but I think the kitchen is using that term loosely.

The best thing I can say about my friends stuffed prawns is that they tasted like something you’d get at Skipper’s. When he offered me a bite I had a flash back of visiting my aunt when I was a kid and her taking us out for a ‘special treat’ at Skipper’s. I guess even back then I was a food snob.

So, when the bill came to over $100, I was a little surprised. If I was going to spend that much on a dinner for two, I know of about a hundred other places I’d go first. What I couldn’t figure out was why the restaurant was absolutely packed—just like the Cheesecake Factory.

Are the Cheesecake Factories of the world putting the Cassis’s of the world out of business? Or maybe this only happens in the states…

Palomino on Urbanspoon

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?