Tag Archives: truffles

Upper West Side: Truffle Store Comes to the Neighborhood

Fresh Truffles. Photo: Urbani Truffles.

Truffles?  What ever happened to lox as the delicacy of choice on the Upper West Side?

The neighborhood is going ever more upscale with the opening of Urbani Truffles on West End Avenue at 60th Street. The shop is slated to open sometime in September, says  Vittorio Giordano, Urbani’s VP.

Truffles, of course, come from the Piedmont section of Italy. And the site of the new store couldn’t be more different than that lush area, which is marked by rolling vineyards and quaint hilltop towns. (I just spent a week there, dining on truffle accented dishes and drinking lots of Barolo.) In fact, the shop, a glittering glass boutique, is situated directly across from a grungy parking lot, the hulking Con-Ed plant, and Western Beef.

Why the less-than-scenic locale?  “Because it’s Manhattan and West End Avenue,” explains Giordano. The area is “improving,” predicts the truffle seller, with Trump and other towers springing up along the western side of the street.

Ubrbani mostly sells wholesale but you can buy their products online and eventually at the new store.

By the way, Urbani Truffles “are certified kosher,” says Giordano.

The day I was there, the place was still under construction. But already  cans of truffle pate, and packages of truffle oil and black and white truffles were on display like precious jewels.

Want a truffle fix? Of course, it’s not cheap

In Piedmont, I was able to buy various truffle pates for about 5 Euros or $8 at the exchange rate in early July. At Urbani, four ounces of fresh summer truffles are $59.90. More affordable is a jar of mushroom and truffle sauce for $8.26.

You can have fresh white and black truffles delivered right to your doorstep within 24 hours as well. And you can find Urbani truffle products at Citarella’s and at Agata and Valentina’sl.

Urbani Truffles
10 West End Avenue (60th Street)
212 2478800

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Recipe: White Chocolate Truffles with Cashews, Coconut and Drunk Raisins

Chocolate truffles. Photo: Ayala Moriel via flickr.

Chocolate truffles. Photo: Ayala Moriel via flickr.

With Christmas and New Year’s coming up, you’re going to want to have a recipe for making a sweet treat—my vote is always for chocolate truffles—that’s rich and decadent. This one, White Chocolate Truffles with Cashews, Coconut and Drunk Raisins, from Chef Renee Marton, fits the bill:

© Renee Marton

1 pound white chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz butter, cut in 8 pieces, and kept cool
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup single malt Scotch
½ cup cashews
½ shredded unsweetened coconut
Pinch salt
2 large egg yolks
Whole nutmeg, for grating

1. Soak raisins in Scotch at least 2 hours before using. Strain raisins; chop coarsely and save the liquid.
2. Toast the coconut and cashews lightly in a pre-heated (350 ° F.) oven for about 10 minutes.  Coarsely chop the cashews, after they have cooled.
3. Heat the cream until very warm.
4. Chop the chocolate coarsely and put in food processor. While the food processor is running, add the cream and the butter. Process until you almost have a smooth paste – there will be little “dots” of white chocolate – that is what you want.
5. Place the mixture in a mixing bowl. Mix yolks with 7 TB of  Scotch, and strain into the white chocolate ganache. Stir until well blended.
6. Add raisins, cashews and ½ of coconut, pinch of salt and pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
7. When well combined, place mixture in a plastic bag. Cut off one corner—one inch from tip. Squeeze dollops of truffle mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets, and refrigerate until firm. (You can also drop by spoonfuls.) The truffles should be the size of very large marbles.
8. When the balls are firm, roll them quickly between your chilled palms to shape them into balls, then roll them in the leftover coconut. powdered sugar, etc.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Letting them come to room temperature for will bring out the flavor.
Yield:  30 to 35 truffles

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NY Outdoor Dining: New Bar/Lounge Opens in Palace Hotel

I stopped by the Palace Gate last week, the new 75-seat outdoor spot that’s been set up in the courtyard of New York’s Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue.

The Palace Hotel has outfitted the space as a lounge/cafe offering up cocktails and small bites. I’m sure it’s a lovely spot for a drink and a sit down.

But the night I was there, it was raining cats and dogs. So the whole scene moved inside the hotel, the former Villard House, an over-the-top pile that’s festooned with carved moldings and lots of gold leaf.  You might have thought an Italian palazzo had plopped down in the middle of Midtown.

Palace Gate, Palace Hotel, New York.

Palace Gate, Palace Hotel, New York.over-the-top 19th century pile adorned with intricate ceiling moldings, plush furnishings and lots of gold leaf.

Still, even with Palace Gate’s temporary weather-induced indoor locale, I got the basic idea. Or at least I got the idea of the food and the drinks, which are supplied by Gilt, the high-end eatery at the hotel. There were cocktails–many of the classic variety. I sipped a Pimm’s Cups No. 1, which is a refreshing drink made with lemonade, Granny Smith apples, ginger beer, and cucumber. Very tasty.  As I later learned, the English aristocracy imbibe this particular concoction at Wimbledon and at regattas and such.  It was all very posh.

My favorite small plates were French fries laced with truffles. To be honest, with the economy in the doldrums and so many people out of work, the idea of a snack food made with pricey delicacies was a wee bit off putting.  Still, who am I to turn down a truffle? I scarfed down a bunch of fries, and they were yummy.

Even with the upscale ingredients, you don’t have to break the bank to take a seat at a table in this new courtyard lounge.  If you limit yourself to a couple of dishes–other items include a Gilt burger and thin crust pizza– and a drink or two, the tab isn’t stratospheric, especially for a Midtown spot.  Prices are mostly in the low teens for the small plates.

And if I’m looking for a place for nibble before hitting the 70 percent off sale at Saks–one can only hope!–Palace Gate would be a great place for a rest stop.

Palace Gate
Palace Hotel
455 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212) 888-7000


New York City Outdoor Dining Options Abound

New York Outdoor Dining Blooms on Upper West Side

Outdoor Dining NYC: New Leaf Cafe Opens for the Season

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