I decided to try this one on a whim too, though less so than the urchin one, because I’ve eyed this one a few times before. Sarah and I had this dish at Alinea, and I remember it being good, though not exactly in what way.
You know in European football games, how they freak out when a team scores? “GOOOOOOOOOAAAL!” This dish is sort of like that, only instead of “GOOOOOOOOOAAAL!” you say “TRUUUUFFFFFFFFFFFFFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!” Seriously, this dish is like getting Danza-slapped in the face with truffles. It’s amazing. Also, when I tally up the two jars of black truffle juice, bottle of white truffle oil, and two whole truffles it took to assemble the dish, it turns out to be by far the most expensive dish I’ve ever made. Not to mention the large bottle of cream and brick of butter that goes into it, probably making it the least healthy dish as well.
The coolest part of the dish aside from the overwhelming flavor is the way you enjoy it: there’s a pin piercing the side of a paraffin bowl. On the pin is a bit of butter, Parmesan, and a very hot potato sphere topped with a slice of black truffle. The bowl is filled with a mouthful of very cold potato soup. To eat, one pulls the pin from the bowl, which drops the potato and other ingredients into the soup. Then you shoot it. Inside the mouth, you feel the cold of the soup warming quickly by the lump of potato, and the flavor is thick and intense. It’s far too rich for anyone to be able to eat a huge bowl of it, but as a single bit it packs a massive wallop and is totally delicious.The recipe called for fresh truffles, which are insanely difficult to find, so I used pickled ones. They were ok, but I could tell they were but a shadow of their former, fresh selves.
A bit of behind-the-scenes: I made the paraffin bowls myself by melting a brick of paraffin I bought from an art shop downtown in a saucepan, then dipping balloons into the melted wax a few times. Important note!: Wait for the wax to cool a bit! For my first try, I dipped a balloon into too-hot wax; nothing happened at first, then the balloon popped and wax splattered everywhere. Then it cooled. Awesome.
Also, here’s a sneek-peek at what my shooting setup looked like. I normally work in my studio, but these past three dishes were temperature-sensitive, so I wanted to keep things in the kitchen so I could move more quickly. This meant less room for moving lights, so I had to go with something more simple. I have a sheet of laminated wood that I stained and varnished; this is what I shoot almost everything for this blog on, as it gives a nice warm base to work on. It’s portable and light so it’s easy to work with. I also usually use a lot of black foam core to block out light from certain areas or to ‘add shadows’.