Truffle season: BiteClub picks up the scent

Truffle season is here, and with it, some of the strangest antics known to the food world. Like, say, paying $160,000 for a giant white truffle?

Reports say an anonymous bidder in Hong Kong coughed up the money for a 3.3 pound whopper at the annual Worldwide Alba White Truffle Auction in Italy this week. What’s next? The truffle will be shaved, sliced and pressed into an array of dishes at the Hong Kong Ritz-Carlton hotel for a charity dinner. No word yet on how much a plate will set you back.

Unfamiliar with the insanity that is truffle fever? The long and short of it is that, like stinky cheese and many other malodorous things we gourmands enjoy sticking in our craws, a big part of the satisfaction is in the smell. In the case of truffles, it’s a sort of leafy, dirty scent-though it can vary depending on when and where it was found. Some people love it, others loathe it. But regardless, you’re gonna pay for it.

Also astonishingly hard to find (usually dug up by specially trained pigs or dogs), a single ounce can go for hundreds of dollars. In fact, some local chefs we talked to said the price has gone so high this year, they frankly can’t afford to sell it.

But don’t give up, truffle lovers. Local restaurants are celebrating the season, regardless of the pricetag:

Cyrus (29 N. Healdsburg St., Healdsburg, 707.433.3311)
Seven dishes on the current menu are served with truffles as a “supplement”. In other words, you’ll pay extra, but the chef highly recommends you make the splurge.

Dry Creek Kitchen ( 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg,707.431.0330)
Staff say at least one item on the menu includes truffles, currently

– Rumored to have truffles (though yet to be confirmed): Poggia in Sausalito; La Toque in Napa.

– And, the biggest and best: Truffle dinners at Oliveto (5655 College Ave, Oakland, 510.547.5356). Nov. 14-17! I haven’t done the truffle dinner, personally, but I have eaten my way through the Whole Hog dinner, and frankly, Paul Canales doesn’t do things half way. Call ahead for reservations, as this event usually sells out.

Did I miss any? Do you have a favorite? Let BiteClub know…