It's not often that you're in a situation to turn up your nose at truffles. And no, I don't mean the chocolates that for some inexplicable reason go by the same name as one of the earth's great delicacies—you're always free to turn your nose up at those weirdo little imposters. No, I mean black truffles, tubor melanosporum, the pride and joy of southern France, the "diamond of the kitchen" according to Brillat-Savarin. The dark little funghi from Perigord that sell for $75/ounce and are prized the world over. What, you ask, tops them?
White truffles. Tubor magnatum, Italy's shining answer to the darkness of the French version that currently clocks in at about 2.5 times the price of the black truffle. Whereas the dark are earthy, nutty and almost dark-chocolatey (describing the aroma of truffles will drive you nuts), the white arguably pack a more shallot/garlic pungency that has come to become the perfect foil to the cuisine of northern Italy.
I tell you all this because Woody Wu has got his hands on some white truffles. The natty proprietor of Richmond's Origo Club has become our city's de facto treasure hunter by doing things like heading to Beaune to scoop up insane bottles of Burgundy or bringing Alfred Tesseron, the head of Chateau Pontet-Canet, into town for dinner, all the while seeming like it's all no big deal. So when he gets his truffles, what does he do? Hoard them for himself? Nope—he calls up Pino Posterero, maybe the greatest maestro in the country with truffles, and asks if he'll pop by the Origo Club to work with their chef, David Pan, to prepare a special dinner.
Wait, there's more (I fully realize this is past the point of reason). Then he gets legendary Piedmontese wine producer GD Vajra to hop aboard and pour their selection of Barberas, Dolcettos and Barolos to go with the six-course meal. Wow.
Last January, I called out Origo's Branaire Ducru wine dinner as the best deal of the year, but this one might give it a run for its money. And as crazy as it is to say a $500 dinner is a good deal, when you consider six courses, all utilizing one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, prepared by the hands of a master and paired with wine that retails for $100+...and, yeah, $500 is an amazing deal. My guess is that the gourmands of this city will recognize this pretty quickly and snap up the tickets, but if you miss out, don't expect this to roll around again any time soon.
Origo Club Alba White Truffles Dinner, December 15, 6:00 p.m., $500. Details here.