White truffles are a rare delicacy: The short season for the mushrooms, the stratospheric prices ($2,000 a pound is not uncommon) and the intense aromas and flavors make this mostly something for the world’s super rich. Shaving a few grams of a white truffle on a dish such as risotto can send the price at a restaurant soaring into the triple digits. The artist formerly known P. Diddy had the money quote on the fungus. Apparently, when dining at Restaurant Daniel, he would say “shave this bitch” to indicate that he thought the dish would be enhanced by some white truffle. No doubt the servers were only too happy to oblige.
Abundant rains this year in Italy produced something of a bumper crop of white truffles. Ryan Sutton explores truffle-nomics, pointing out that wholesale prices are down by 50% over two years ago. Restaurateurs have mostly lowered their prices on the rarities too with, for example, Marea charging $100 for 7-8 grams of truffles shaved over risotto, down from $149 last year.
The bumper crop produced what has been called “the world’s largest truffle.” Discovered last week in central Italy, the Balestra family of Sabatino Truffles put it on the block at Sotheby’s New York over the weekend. The 1.89-kilo (4.16-lb) white truffle sold for $61,250 to a phone bidder in China. That’s $32.40 per gram. Makes Marea’s pricing seem like a bargain! I’m sure the bidder has a private plane–the kind that shaves truffles, that is.
The consignors say they will be donating the proceeds to charity.
More on truffles:
“The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade” [The Atlantic]
“White Truffles: Why They’re Worth $2,000 a Pound” [TIME]