Holy Week


Our Daily Correspondent


Chef Erik Blauberg with the enormous truffle.

This item was in Page Six yesterday: 

The world’s largest black truffle landed in Manhattan this week—and to the extreme agony of many chefs and gourmands, it may not be up for sale or eating.

The 5.5-pound truffle was guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Chef Erik Blauberg at Stanton Street Kitchen. The mighty pungent fungi was flown in, amid tight security, by his friend Federico Balestra, who owns a truffle business in Italy.

Blauberg, who threw the dinner to preview his Culinary Passport program, told us, “When a truffle this size comes into New York, all the chefs go wild. But we don’t know if we are going to cook with it, auction it for charity or preserve it.”

The world’s largest white truffle (4.16 pounds) fetched $61,250 at Sotheby’s last year.

The truffle in question—which resembles the charred remains of a cold fireplace log, but also, from the right angle, kind of looks like a cat—is about a foot long. It is unclear whether the “guest of honor” was seated at a prominent table and sort of glowered at everyone, or instead taunted them from another point in the restaurant, flanked by security guards. Presumably the truffle made its presence known, since even a small black truffle can perfume a room. Here’s how Thackeray describes that distinctive smell:

Presently, we were aware of an odour gradually coming towards us, something musky, fiery, savoury, mysterious,—a hot drowsy smell, that lulls the senses, and yet enflames them,—the truffles were coming.

This morning I was getting a cup of coffee and heard a family from the UK discussing what to order. 

“It’s Good Friday,” said the mother to her young son. “And you know what we never eat on Good Friday?”

“Brioche?” the little boy said.

Well, there are fasts and there are fasts. I liked the idea of such a lofty approach to Lenten sacrifice. And it occurred to me that for some who can afford it, sitting with an untouchable, enormous visiting truffle dignitary would be the very last word in luxurious self-denial. 

Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.