Unearth Your Love of Truffles at the Urbani “Truffle Lab” on NYC’s West Side
By John Dunham with Alison Blackman
A truffle is a swoon-worthy experience. There’s something about a truffle that makes it almost irresistible to most people. An aphrodisiac of the highest order, the scent is enough to send some people into fits of pleasure. Add just a touch to food and it elevates it from something common to something sublime.
When considering what a truffle really is, it seems counter-intuitive. Whether they are white or black truffles, they look like misshapen growths. The actual description is kind of unsettling ” A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus (largest genus of fungi), predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber (part of the genus in which truffles belong). Truffles are ectomycorrhizal (the fungus colonizes the host plant’s root) fungi and are therefore usually found in close association with the roots of trees. Spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi.” *from wikipedia
Why is something that looks ugly, costs a fortune, and is sniffed out by animals, so sought after and prized? The sweaty-musky aroma of truffles is similar to that of the pheromone andr rostenol that also occurs in humans. If you know something about scent and attraction, these are the scents (smelled or undetected) that attract humans to one another in social and sexual situations. Since truffles are considered gourmet items, you won’t find all that many places selling them or using them in recipes, even in New York City. But now there’s one more, the new Truffle Lab that opened on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
A common marketing technique used by many consumer product companies is the pop-up store. Pop-ups are common in New York, and are sponsored by everything from toothpastes, to shampoos to vodkas to French cheeses. Generally a pop-up store is designed more to promote a brand or a product than to sell it. Similar pop-ups are event spaces hosted by a product or a brand. These spaces feature events, or can be rented out for private parties. They are branded to the product but do not necessarily sell a large amount of product at retail.
It is not often that a pop-up or event space is sponsored by one of the world’s greatest delicacies, but last month we were fortunate to attend the grand opening of the Urbani Truffle Lab on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Urbani Truffles USA, the world’s leading truffle purveyor, envisioned the Lab as a creative concept, test kitchen and tasting room with an ultimate goal of bringing new experiences to truffle lovers in America.
We attended the launch party for Urbani’s Truffle Lab and were amazed at the ways in which a truffle can make even something as simple as pasta or cornbread suddenly seem like a swoon-worthy delight! But there were short ribs and desserts and so many other ways to use truffles both black and white. If you want to try your hand at using truffles, try one of the cooking/eating programs at the Truffle Lab. You will not only have a great time and learn something, you’ll leave with the memory of your swoon-worthy truffle experience and wanting another! For more information on events at the Urbani Truffle Lab through June 2016 visit: https://www.urbani.com/classes-events.html
The Lab began life about 6 years ago s Urbani’s showroom but has been transformed to a marketing destination that will host culinary events as well as truffle-based cooking demonstrations. The Truffle Lab features chef Christine Berni-Silverstein, a finalist on season five of MasterChef who serves as a culinary expert to Urbani Truffles.
From its inception in 1850, the Urbani reputation for excellence has been carefully and faithfully handed down from one generation to the next. Urbani has created special lines of products- creams, sauces, oils, all made with pure, organically farmed ingredients.Urbani is now the absolute world leader in truffles, processing an annual average of 100 tons of product. For those not attending events at the Lab, truffle based oils, jars and tins of truffles, sauces, dried mushrooms and candies are for sale to the public. Urbani Truffles, 10 West End Avenue (60th Street), (212) 247-8800. For more information on Urbani Truffles, visit the Urbani Web Site