Few things in the world get me to act as foolhardy as white truffles. On the first Thursday of October, Wife, Asam, Seraph and I stepped into Gotham for a quick introductory dinner for Seraph (she is new to NYC and it is a quintessential New York place, the thinking went). As I stepped to the hostess stand I smelled white truffle. When I commented on this as strange so early in the season, my olfactory supposition was confirmed as the hostess explained that earlier in the day Gotham had purchased their first white truffle of the season, greatly changing our planned course for the evening’s dining.
The fact that this meal was to be Asam’s treat is what made my rather opulent decision seem easy, at least to my obviously truffle-skewed brain. I saw a simple opportunity to eat truffles somewhat affordably by asking the restaurant to sell me the truffle and slice it onto the meal Asam was paying for, in effect splitting the check. Upon inspection, we realized it was more truffle than four people needed so we decided to pay a truffle supplement (my tab) and have the kitchen plan a tasting menu with three truffle courses at its center (Asam’s). In the long run the truffle itself was mediocre – flabby with a quickly dissipating aroma rather than a true deep pungency. If anyone is to blame for this, though, it is me for believing the case would be any different before mid-November in America. The dishes Gotham put together did their best to play to a weak sample of tartuffo bianco and were very good, great considering we blindsided the kitchen for a an all truffle menu on their first night of truffle season. Here’s the porn:
The evening’s amuse was sea bass cevice with the chew of flesh given a proper opportunity to tighten under the influence of citric acids. It played the brighter side of the flavor spectrum with mango, fine herbs, sliced grapes, and citrus, tempered by bits of avocado and olive oil.
Cream of Porcini soup with toasted pine nuts, lardons and roasted porcini was the first truffle course. When the truffle hit the hot soup its aroma automatically released. Sadly, beyond that the star of this course was the soup.
Seared Nova Scotia halibut in an airy citrusy sauce with mushrooms and fruit was the next thing to be topped with truffles. Again, a great course linking earth to sea, bridged by the light fruity notes, but no truffle wow.
Slow-poached hen egg on creamy risotto did the most to try to aid our truffle in strutting its stuff. But what I remember most about this course was how deep the flavor of the stock was. The stock so deep it was almost gamey and the lactic touch of melted aged cheese came together in this toothsome risotto.