: views from the Hill

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles

Is nothing sacred? Daniel Patterson writes about truffle oil in Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles

[NYTimes. Registration required.]

A TRUFFLE by any other name may smell as sweet, but what if that name is 2,4-dithiapentane? All across the country, in restaurants great and small, the “truffle” flavor advertised on menus is increasingly being supplied by truffle oil. What those menus don’t say is that, unlike real truffles, the aroma of truffle oil is not born in the earth. Most commercial truffle oils are concocted by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane (the most prominent of the hundreds of aromatic molecules that make the flavor of white truffles so exciting) that have been created in a laboratory; their one-dimensional flavor is also changing common understanding of how a truffle should taste.


Patterson's restaurant, Coi, is amazing and just a hop, skip and jump away -- four blocks, maybe five, near the corner of Broadway and Montgomery. Delish food in a soothing venue. $$$ or we'd eat there more often than we do. Coi includes service in the bill, one of the few restaurants I know that does. Wish more did.

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