Chutzpah, Truffles & Alain Ducasse

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It occurs to me at the end of this post that I didn’t, in fact, tell you what a white truffle tastes like. How to describe it? It’s really the smell that gets you–the smell is pungent and earthy and unlike anything else you’ve ever smelled. See, wasn’t that helpful?

I also want to mention here at the end how incredibly generous and kind and surprisingly unpretentious everyone was who interacted with us. Perhaps they appreciated our enthusiasm for the food as opposed to those who dine there to show off their wealth. They’re closing up at this location soon and moving to the St. Regis in the spring. Maybe this is their chance to rise above their reputation for being fussy and over-the-top. Judging from our meal, Alain Ducasse is ready to be born anew.

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132 comments

  1. ohmygoodness…hooray for your gutsy-ness!

    i don’t hate you but i am very very envious. that looks like such an incredible experience–the food, the truffles, the VIP room you get to through the kitchen!! heehee, and the cute singing by craig. plus, the kindness and unpretentiousness gives the restaurant extra bonus points in my book!

    my white truffle experience is limited to a couple bites of pasta at my favorite italian place here in LA, but each bite was divine.. i can’t imagine a whole dinner built around this amazing ingredient! amazing. thanks for sharing!

  2. Yep, I hate you. Free foie, free white truffle dinner. Hate. Hate hate hate.

    But if you keeping writing so entertainingly about it, I might forgive you.

  3. Poor Alain Ducasse just wasted $300 worth of food and wine, all for what? This new content-free post? I’d be furious if I were him.

    Wes

  4. Well Adam, I do not hate you but I really think you should start inviting your deticated readers to some of these events. WOW… when I hit the lotto (eventhough I do not play) I am going here to celebrate!!! Oh ya, the the Craig vid rocks!

  5. If you want to try truffles here’s a more affordable option I read about on NYmag.com: Sapori d’Ischia

    in Queens has a $50 truffle tasting menu until mid-November. I haven’t been, but I aim to go.

    I just returned from the Piedmonte and I’m still kicking myself for not bringing a truffle back with me. The air in Alba is thick with its fragrance.

  6. Awesome post Adam. I felt like I was there…except I am eating popcorn, not truffles. And instead of wine pairings, I have horrible watery work breakroom coffee. The Facts of Life video is awesome

  7. Props to you! Good example of a PR person trying to pitch a blog but not bothering to read the blog first. But they redeemed themselves with the free dinner.

  8. I’ve been reading your blog for the past six months, and it’s always great, but this post is the BEST. Loved it.

  9. How do you feel about Craig stealing your thunder? I’m so caught up in the Facts of Life that I don’t even know what your post is about.

  10. You’ve convinced me, AG — if by some chance I come into $320, I am all over Alain Ducasse. Maybe he heard about your Le Cirque smackdown and wanted to get on your good side? :P

  11. Gosh, that Craig is cute!

    The food looks good too — but you didn’t say whether you liked the dishes! May I assume, because you were swooning at the end, that the food was good?

  12. Great truffle description! The only place I’ve tried truffles was at Sapori d’Ischia. I thought they were delicious. Did you enjoy them? It didn’t sound like you enjoyed the aroma.

  13. Sorry to break up the idol worship, but this style is really irritating. I’m a big fan and this approach might land you a USAToday online contract but …. sorry

  14. I’m just sitting at my paralegal desk working late night on a project on a nice balmy November Friday night in Miami (meaning I should be beachside at some restaurant also tucking into a nice glass of red wine) when I decided to read your posts – which always lift my spirit and get me thinking of what’s next for dinner. For 10 glorious minutes I was at the next table over fancying what your reaction was to different plates, the different glasses of wine being paired with them, and getting Craig to bare his soul ala Babs! So no, I haven’t eaten all those fancy white truffle dishes, least of all prepared by Ducasse – but through your brilliant and funny writing – I kinda feel like I did and that makes it worth every bit of a $320 investment for Mr. Ducasse or the 10 or so minutes your casual readers (AKA fans) have spent – bravisimo!

  15. Once again I live vicariously through you. What an amazing experience! The comic-book style presentation is fun and your narratives were hilarious. I laughed out loud when I saw Chunk doing the ‘truffle shuffle’ at the end of the page.

    And for the record, I was singing the them to the Facts of Life just the other day and plan to request it the next time I’m at a piano bar. The bastards better play it.

  16. I don’t hate you one bit. You are, after all, charming, funny and passionate about food, exactly like me!

    Besides, three of my neighbors are truffle hunters and I can buy them wholesale, which isn’t to say cheap. Today begins my town’s annual truffle fair/market, at which the year’s price will be set for Umbria. One year it was €1000/kilo, and another €3000. At €1000 I can afford a nice one, but the odor sends my cats absolutely insane. Even in a sealed jar on rice inside the fridge they can smell it and THEY WANT IT.

    I think white truffles smell like the weekend one spends in bed with a lover without ever showering. Supposedly scientists have related the odor to human pheromones, so I must be right.

    My kid hates them, so there’s one less worry for me.

  17. I don’t hate you one bit. You are, after all, charming, funny and passionate about food, exactly like me!

    Besides, three of my neighbors are truffle hunters and I can buy them wholesale, which isn’t to say cheap. Today begins my town’s annual truffle fair/market, at which the year’s price will be set for Umbria. One year it was €1000/kilo, and another €3000. At €1000 I can afford a nice one, but the odor sends my cats absolutely insane. Even in a sealed jar on rice inside the fridge they can smell it and THEY WANT IT.

    I think white truffles smell like the weekend one spends in bed with a lover without ever showering. Supposedly scientists have related the odor to human pheromones, so I must be right.

    My kid hates them, so there’s one less worry for me.

  18. Well, I for one am starting to hate you real bad.

    Not that much for the free foie gras and the truffles (I’m not in NY anyway, so being envious about all that is useless), but I am really getting frustrated because your food comics are both better and more popular than mine. Being owned sucks hard.

    Oh, the bitterness! Maybe I should just try to think of your comics as an inspiration for me to draw better ones… (it doesn’t help, I’m still green in the face)

    Or, I’ll just start chanting the wise words you wrote the other day: “you’re entitled to the work, not the rewards”… ;o)

  19. Adam!!!

    It’s this type of post which caused many of us to become devotees in the first place. Cheers on your successes thus far, and particularly in this instance. Bloody he!!

    That said, I cannot BELIEVE Craig sang the “Facts of Life” song while you were there. *blink* Priceless.

  20. Here via Guy Kawasaki’s blog… if I hadn’t just gotten engaged this week, I would totally be proposing to you. That was PRICELESS.

  21. This is absolutely hilarious! i especially enjoyed your impromptu musical selection. Although, maybe you should have acted out the actual truffle shuffle scene for your readers as well…Just a thought.

  22. let me go back to how i landed here, my dear husband Yasir(http://www.yasirdrabu.name) reads Guy’s blog, and he forwarded me this link, and i normally just dont want to read what yasir reads, cos he is a geek, and i lookin at the weird pics, assumed its another geek blog, decided not to read it, just scrolled down really fast, read some of the comments, found the comments interesting went back to your post, dont know what the heck truffles(they dont look like chocolate truffles that you normally get in stores) or foie gras is; but generally i think i have spent abt an hour on your blog! so go figure!

    you guys are funny!

  23. My dh is in Italy at this very moment, collecting truffles with a restaurant-owner friend. This blog was hilarious and wonderful! It hit the nail on the head–perfectly describing MY first encounter with a gourmet truffle dinner. Collect your pennies (ok, that might take years–collect your bills) and go eat truffles! Thanks for putting this post together–complete with the link to YouTube…laugh, giggle, laugh…

  24. A $320 white truffle meal by one Alain Ducasse who has clearly gone completely insane. I’ve read your blog for nearly two years now and while I’ve enjoyed every post from the beginning, I’d never felt such an unrelenting urge to comment until now.

    Because after this post I hate you.

    The hatred is only slightly lessened by the pretty pictures, delightful “Facts of Life” entertainment and ingenious graphic presentation of an obviously delicious meal. I applaud you Amateur Gourmet, albeit with very bitter hand clapping – whatever that sounds like.

    Did I mention I hate you?

  25. Very clever presentation of your story! I really enjoyed it, especially the threat of posting the singing of “facts of life” on YouTube, and then having the video follow right after. Hysterical! Great work and a great example of creative story-telling.

  26. please don’t use the cartoon format too much! it’s kinda funny but (except for your brief addendum) i learn almost nothing about the food. although i guess it’s appropriate in this case, because it comes across as a bit of a diss to Ducasse. which is their just desserts for trying to get free advertising from a blogger. the main jist of your ad was “spend $320 so you can feel so full you want to die!”

  27. More Craig singing! More Craig singing! Too funny– I loved this entire post, and am very proud of your for writing down which wines you had!

  28. you take the good you take the bad you take ’em both and there you have….

    aww, now it’s stuck in my head, damn it. *shakes fist*

    Dinner@ Kim Jong Il’s looks fabulous. Did you sit on nukes?

    Joking aside, good for you for being ballsy, sometimes all you have to do is ask!

  29. i love the way you did your post – using different media and all. this is the best ive read so far. very effective. not to mention i also love pastries!!!! (hmm – truffles are pastries, right?) duh. all i know is that its food.

    btw – you also have a cute voice.

  30. Terrific!

    im from india and stumbled upon ur blog thru guy kawasaki’s blog. you are doing a great job. hope to see more interesting posts !

  31. Wow, that was a fun story, I mean, comic strip. Really – very hilarious. This brings up two points to me – I’ve never had white truffles but I would be afraid to try because last year when I was dining at a very nice restaurant in Seattle, I had salmon with black truffle oil on it (which basically ruined the flavor of…the salmon) and promptly got sick. I mean sick. Itchy, and red rash, churning stomach (later lost the dinner), and had to leave the very expensive restaurant. So I now avoid any dishes on a menu that mention the word “truffle” no matter what the color. …just in case you wanted to know.

    And my second point was that I once wrote about a certain brand of a food item on my blog (in a complimentary manner) and I received an email from the company about a week later, thanking me for the “nice essay prompting our product” and they wanted to send me a gift package in appreciation. So I went them my shipping address as they requested and…nothing. It’s been about two months and nothing every arrived. Strange, huh. (so yes, I’m jealous of your dinner.)

  32. I’ve often looked at the Essex House sign with fascination, which is visible from the Sheep Meadow in Central Park (and even on my blog header photo) and wondered what goes on in there… (I wondered if it were a rehab home, or a special clinic for rich people, or perhaps a horse hotel? I’ve spent too long on the lawn at the Sheep Meadow, as you see.) Now I know! Next time I have 320 bucks to spend on food that isn’t already committed to the year’s supply of sardines, black beans, pasta, and rice, you know what I’ll do with it!

  33. AHHHHH!!! I actually PAID for my white truffles from Morimoto’s (ok, maybe I didn’t but it wasn’t a gift from the restaurant) and here you are.. getting them fore FREE.. and with a wine pairing.. and a goodie bag!! Oh.. I think I’m going to cry now.

  34. I think what I like best about your blog is it’s goal of unabashedly, and unapologetically marketing YOU and branding “Adam” in all it’s permutations.

    As far as critics who might call into question the ethics behind accepting free meals and then writing about them – pshaw – tell them it’s not about Ducasse, it’s all about YOU!

  35. GREAT BLOG PRESENTATION!!! I wished I had that kind of pull!!!

    Hey, was there a particular program that you used for the comic presentation?

    Just curious…

  36. It is amazing how the web continues to democratized the real world…

    …think of it, now we have currency to barter with the big boys!

    Nice post and congrats!

  37. Geez! Can’t even put a tie on for such a place.

    This proves it again: The only culture Americans have is in the fridge, namely in the yogurt.

    Schorschi

  38. Fantastic post! I have to say that if someone went to that restaurant and got what you got for $320, it would be the bargain of the century! I expect the wine at least would be extra!

    I’ve only tried fresh truffles a couple of times, both in Torino, and they are definitely not like anything you’ve tasted before.

    The guy I was with at the time died shortly after. I believe it was unconnected, although he did say ‘Now I’ve tasted everything!’

    How I wish I’d contradicted him.

  39. Now that’s the way to sum up an outrageously wonderful dinner! The food and the passion go from frame to frame, all in perfect harmony.

    sure, you may not have described each dish in magnified detail, but I’m pretty sure most would rank as ‘okay’.

    Secondly… I am going to have that stupid theme song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  40. I would not have been so nice in the review even at the risk of having to pay for dinner. Truffles from Alba and a French wine? It should have been a Barbaresco or Barolo.

    Partridge egg and consume’ are soooo last year and the pasta should have been Tagliatelle but most likely a risotto would have been more appropriate (this year’s Tartufo is said to be the best in history for both quantity and quality).

  41. The irony is, now you’re on Guy’s blog, which probably has readers who can afford the menu, so now they probably got their promotional money’s worth. Feel free to leverage that into more free food, I guess.

  42. I’m going to assume that your lack of explanation of how the food actually tasted is due to the fact that you didn’t like it and are just being nice because of their hospitality?

    Great post nonetheless, but I thought this was a food blog!

  43. Adam.. you should get everyone to chipin and give away a white truffle dinner to one of your readers! Check out this new service that helps you put a little widget for people to chipin on your site. chipin.com

  44. No restaurant has truly made it until they’ve created their page on MerchantCircle!

    In the meantime, I will take my 1/320 of the cost and eat a nice chocolate soft-serve at Wendy’s. I get to keep the cup too!

  45. Wow. My husband told me years ago to save your funny musical theatre-singing egg posts and other silly things, because you were “going to be big,” he said, and I wouldn’t be able to get them after that.

    He was right. You’re big. Rock on, Adam, I’ll pretend I *really* knew you when.

    You might’ve missed an opportunity to ask about one of the last celebrity chefs you met, though — what do they think of Mr. Psaltis?

  46. Am I the 1000th comment on how awesome your post was? Do I win something? Can I come to dinner?

    Seriously loved the post. I plan to steal the idea and do it poorly. Well, I don’t know what I plan to do, but I am inspired to do something.

    And I am very glad that I found my way here via Winery Web Site Report. You have a new instant fan!

  47. If you’d known how it was going to be, you would not just have fallen out of your chair, but fallen through the floor too! I found you through Clicked at MSNBC! The restaurant is really starting to get its free food treat to you paid back with some exposure, only because you covered the whole thing so amazingly! Awesome blog!

  48. Chutzpah? BALLS.

    Especially the singing, over the truffles, with the wines…

    we have been treated similarly at Daniel and it’s true – no pretension, no stuffiness, just a wonderful evening.

    But I do know how you felt when you couldn’t possibly eat more and there were more courses – AND WINE…

    oof.

  49. You would be surprised at how many privately owned establishments actually engage in this, for many myriad reasons. I am so happy you had such a great gastronomical experience. Thanks for presenting dining event to your audience in a truly funny and entertaining fashion.

    There are American equivalents to European truffles which have their own individual earthy tastes and aromas, many surprisingly affordable. Search the web, research, order some try at home. It’s a tasty adventure which I’m sure you will appreciate.

  50. hello,

    my bf and i are going there for my bday dinner next weekend and i am just so psyched! (do they let ppl in who say psyched?? hmmm)

    anyway, do u know until when they serve the white truffle tasting menu? and would they let us take one awesome picture inside while eating dinner or will that constitute a big eyebrow-raising event?

    and do we have to resort to sipping one glass of wine pairing per course or are there refills?? (we may not have extra $$ for a refill hahaha!!!)

    well any pointers will be greatly appreciated!!! and i’m so glad you posted this coz it got me even more excited for my trip to ny!!

  51. Hello

    The White Truffle Menu is still listed.

    Wine pairing available. And you will be able to take pics of course.

    I am familiar with Four Seasons, Chanterelle,Aureole, Per Se. Did you try any of those?

    Enjoy the dinner.

    Dave

  52. The french season is about to start and whilst not a patch on the white ones these perigord truffles are worth eating. We get ours direct from the man and get a local chef to cook a gourmet meal (hes called franck, not alain). Interestingly they produced around 20 tonnes here in 1882 for the Paris market,the smell must have been unbelievable!

  53. Can I hate you? This will cover up my extreme jealousy. What a great story and proof it never hurts to ask!

    I voted for your post.

  54. Ooooh fun Adam. And I liked your headfirst dive into comic stripping. Comic stripping. Ha. That is what you getting undressed would be. Tell Craig I miss him and his YouTube wasn’t embarassing because he got ALL the words right!

  55. i’ve never had truffles like that before (only little bits in pate), but i might now since reading your posting. one day maybe i will make it to new york and try this restaurant. love this post especially! so much fun. great job!

  56. It’s never too late to say what a great post this is!

    I love the cartoon storyboard!!

    As an Ex-James Beard House photographer, I can atest, this tells the story of high-end eats only too well.Merci

  57. Judging from the amount of comments on this post, Alain Ducasse invested his $320 wisely. I love people with true passion for things. This means you. And him. Congrats and thanks for sharing.

  58. It just occurred to me that, while claiming to be “The Proud Fan,” I hadn’t read some of your greatest blog posts, so I’m doing a little catching up. I wish I knew about you before this year, it would have made for much better procrastination in college!

    And way to go, you lucky, lucky duck. Looking back at this now, you can get a free meal like this probably anywhere if you just flash your book!

  59. Thanks for sharing.

    I am glad you were able to experience such an event in person.

    Keep on eating.

    Warm Culinary Regards

    Maybe next time you can find a place to do a Caviar Tasting or a Foie Tasting.

  60. GOOD job. You know the saying if you don’t ask, the answer will be no – or something like that. So you asked, and it worked! Now I want to hear an epic story of you asking for a menu and getting shut down. Then it would be even :p