Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bad season for tomato haters

August 31

When the publicist from the Peanut Advisory Board sees an interesting peanut item on a menu, she feels compelled to try it. It's her job, after all. And often she invites me along. It's expense-able, after all.
So last night we went to Blue Hill, the one in the West Village, not the one upstate, for the chocolate bread pudding with salted caramel, roasted peanuts and cinnamon ice cream, which the publicist had learned about from reading a rave by Frank Bruni.
Blue Hill's chef, Dan Barber, not only is a big advocate of seasonal and sustainable stuff, but also, being a savvy guy, he is a regular reader of Nation's Restaurant News. He wasn't in the restaurant that evening, but he nonetheless had given orders to start us out with glasses of Champagne. I love it when that happens. We also got a mid-course bonus of heirloom tomato salad with cucumber, watermelon and basil.
I have what I consider to be a genetic defect: I hate most raw tomatoes. They taste toxic to me. Cook a tomato and I love it, but there's some enzyme or something in a raw tomato that either my taste buds or olfactory receptors (probably the latter) register as poisonous.
This is true, I found out by conducting an informal study, of about half of the men matrilineally descended from my own maternal great-grandmother, Dora Melman. [Skip the next paragraph if you don't care about the details of the tomato preferences of my male cousins].
Great uncle Dave Melman, one of three boys, hated tomatoes. First cousin Tom Kornfeld, middle son of my mother's sister, hates tomatoes of any shape or form — I think his daughter Naomi does too, actually — and so does second cousin once-removed Adam Rosner, an only child, whose mother Martha is only the daughter of Sarah Levi, only daughter of great aunt Fannie, who was the oldest of Dora's four daughters. Great aunt Millie had no children. I guess I'll have to find out about the tomato tastes of Noah, the great-grandson of Dora's other daughter, Anne. Actually, Anne's only daughter, Dorothy, had four daughters — Anne, Melanie, Cindy and Irene — and I'm out of touch with all of them. I guess I'll have to look them up to continue my research, but it certainly looks like dislike of raw tomatoes is a sex-linked trait in my family, just like male pattern baldness and color blindness (I have both of those too).
So for the most part, the more flavorful a raw tomato is, the more I hate it. But I soldier on, because it's my job and because I have found that I do like some obscure heirloom varieties. In fact, I liked about half of the tomatoes so kindly sent out by Dan Barber.
You may recall that I had an heirloom tomato salad last night too; this is a trying season for a tomato-hater.

What else I ate:
Salad of summer vegetables, raw and marinated greens from the restaurant's farm, pistachios and mushroom gelée
Grass fed lamb with quinoa, zucchini and Stone Barns bibb lettuce
Peach cobbler

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


August 29

I finally managed to eat at Beppe, the old-school Tuscan place on 22nd Street. It's been there for years, during which time 22nd Street has quietly become a fascinating restaurant strip, all the failed restaurants in the space formerly known as Commune — and Rocco's and Caviar & Banana and so much more — notwithstanding.
I ate there with the beautiful and overqualified publicist Aurora Kessler, who, like me, lived in Thailand for a number of years. So we talked about, well, a lot of things ranging from Chatuchak Market, which she thinks is the greatest place on Earth and I think is hot and crowded (although she convinced me to give it another try), to olfactory receptors to the nature of revolution to the subtle southern Italian influences that Portuguese-Campanian chef Marc Taxiera was bringing to Tuscan's menu. She introduced me to a Spanish word, detaillista, or detail fanatic, which we agreed applies beautifully to Thai society, where subtle nuances in behavior are picked up on and assessed like no place else either of us knew about.
It's amazing how obvious an allegorical story is, as long as you realize that it's allegorical.

What we ate:

Stuffed fried zucchini flowers and zucchini salad
White bean and bottarga crostini
Crostini of chicken liver with vin santo
Mixed local tomato salad in tomato water
Warm gemelli pasta with diced tomato, basil, and young pecorino cheese
Spaghetti with fresh sardines, fennel, raisins, pine nuts, and fennel pollen
Roasted swordfish with summer greenmarket caponnata
Brined pork chop with grilled cipolline onions and sauteed greens

And for dessert:
Sweet corn gelato with sea salt and olive oil
chocolate-chip and vanilla canolli

What we drank (all of Beppe's wines, all of them, are supposed to be from Tuscany, but subtle exceptions are made for the sake of avoiding crappy wine, so the Brut sparkling wine, made using the techniques of Champagne and with Chardonnay grapes, actually is from Lombardia, but made by a Tuscan company, because, as I was told, Chardonnay from Tuscany would be gross):
Brut 2000 Marchesi Di Frescobaldi
Rosato 2005 Castello Di Ama
Sauvignon Blanc "Refola"2004 Poggio Salvi
Vermentino Di Maremma "Pagliatura" 2005 Magliano

Monday, August 28, 2006

Velvet-rope fast food

August 28,

Actually, it was one of those elastic straps stretched between poles, like the ones at long check-in lines at airports, but the idea was the same, and it materialized in front of Bamn near the end of the opening party.
Bamn is, I believe, the first automat to exist in New York in about 20 years, and its opening party was tonight.
An automat is a sort of vending-machine-cum-restaurant. The food is behind little glass doors in cubby holes; you insert your coins, open a door and pull out your food. Cheap and convenient. It was the latest thing several decades ago.
The new incarnation is kind of Asian, with a Hawaiian accent. Behind some doors is Spam musubi, a delicacy from the islands that uses nori seaweed to tie fried, teriyaki-glazed spam to sushi rice (it's much, much better than it sounds). Teriyaki burgers and pork buns are available too, along with American fast food like chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, fried chicken wings and mozzarella sticks.
At the service counter are french fries (you can buy a $10 bucket) with a massive selection of sauces (I had salsa verde at the suggestion of the man behind the counter). Green tea soft serve is on hand, too. The food was all developed by Kevin Reilly, who currently is chef at Water Grill although I met him near the turn of the century during his ten-minute stint as the chef at Zoe, in Soho.
Most items cost about two bucks (change machines are on-site), but tonight everything was a quarter, and the quarters were provided by pretty young Asian women in tight-fitting, pink Bamn t-shirts and white pieces of cloth that approximated mini-skirts. But you needed to be somebody to get in, to the disappointment of many, many passersby. I don't think the elastic rope came out until CNN started filming, however.
Inside, I caught up with Nancy Davidson and Ted Lee, exchanged faux-kisses with Andrea Strong (real kisses are tacky when your mouth is full of teriburger), and was delighted to see the reaction of Jennifer Leuzzi, a Hawaiian, when Ted brought her the Spam musubi. Once she saw that shave ice also was available she declared Bamn to be the fall opening she was most excited about, although after some reflection she declared it number two, after l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What would Hizbollah do?

I had dinner at Tintol, again, with its new publicist, and what more breezy topic to discuss over Portuguese small plates than the Middle East?
We seemed to agree that, although Israel's incursion into Lebanon might have been justified, it was not effective. Indeed, Israel's quite understandable policy of fighting brutal attacks with counter-brutal attacks has served simply to create more enemies.
The publicist suggested that Israel would have been better off treating Palestinians in its occupied territories the way Hizbollah and Hamas do: Run schools and hospitals and provide services.

Food to eat while solving the world's problems:

flamed chorizo
grilled sardines
Chanfana de cabrito (goat stew) with carrot puree
bolos de bacalhau

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nation's Restaurant News in the 21st Century!

You can download NRN's podcasts here.
The site's still in the beta phase and your comments are welcome.

Jasper White at the first of what will no-doubt be a string of 40th birthday celebrations

August 21

A dear college friend, science teacher Michael Gerber, turned 40 last week, so this weekend I took a bus to Boston to help him celebrate.
Greyhound has become surprisingly middle class in recent years. The dregs that used to accompany me on bus trips in college in the 1980s are nowhere to be seen. I wonder what has happened to them.
From Boston I took the T to Alewife, where I was picked up by Michael and our friend Shane Curcuru, who started as a debugger of spreadsheets at Lotus and now works on cutting edge software for IBM. We then drove to Lincoln to pick up Dennis Liu, who's a corporate lawyer of some sort, and then to the Millbury Park 'n' Ride where we met John Bruce, who does computer network consulting. We switched to his car and we all drove to Mohegan Sun to have dinner at Summer Shack.
I thought this was an odd choice of a place to honor Michael, who does not drink nor gamble. Nor does he smoke cigars, another thing one can do indoors at Mohegan Sun and not many other places in the northeast. But apparently Michael was in favor of trying something new, and he likes seafood (he's a native of Lexington and now lives in Gloucester, Mass., though, so it's not like we needed to schlep to Connecticut to find seafood).
But it turned out to be a lot of fun, and who did we see when we got to the Summer Shack but its chef and owner, Jasper White! He was in the kitchen, stirring sauces and expediting and stuff. Summer Shack has four units, so you don't really expect to see Jasper at the one you're eating in, especially if it's at Mohegan Sun on a Saturday night.
Anyway, I said hello and he sent us clams casino and peel-and-eat shrimp cooked in beer and Old Bay seasoning. Other than that we had a couple of "towers of power," which is what they call cold seafood platters, along with two styles of calamari and fried clam bellies. Then I had a lobster with drawn butter.
Michael doesn’t gamble, but he did try his hand at some penny slots. He got bored, so Shane took over and managed to turn an 18-cent bet into 40-some-odd dollars. Michael, not being a gambler, knew that that was the time to cash out.
Since he doesn’t drink, I bought him a shot of Macallan 18.

A night in

August 18

I've been hanging out a fair amount lately with Chandler Burr, who wrote a fascinating book called The Emperor of Scent about a guy who developed a new theory for how our sense of smell works. Conventional wisdom is that our olfactory receptors determine a molecule’s smell by its shape. This guy, Luca Turin, says they determine it based on its molecular vibration.
It’s really fun to suggest this to biologists because they get really angry and defend the shape theory like it’s really important.
Anyway, I threw some work Chandler's way and since then he has been helping me explore Thai restaurants. He also accompanied me to a recent meal at Duvet, which is one of those restaurants where you eat in bed. I have learned from those restaurants that tables and chairs are extremely practical when it comes to eating, especially soup.
This evening, Chandler, who also is The New York Times' new scent columnist, asked me to hang out with some friends of his, Mark Kingstone and Kevin Laursen. We met at their apartment and after much discussion resolved that ordering from Ali Baba, a neighborhood Turkish restaurant, was our best dinner option.

What we ordered from Ali Baba:

Lahmacun (flat bread with lamb on it)
Arnavut Cigeri (fried cubes of calf liver)
Icli Kofte (beef-stuffed bulgur croquettes, like kibbeh)
Yogurtlu Tavuk (chicken in yogurt)

Two nights at Philippe

August 16

"This party is boring," I said to one of the only other people at the party at Philippe.
Philippe, a fairly new restaurant featuring chef Philippe Chow, who for many years was chef at the exclusive Mr. Chow restaurant (named after a different Mr. Chow), was celebrating the fact that two professional basketball players, Sebastian Telfair of the Boston Celtics and Al Harrington of the Atlanta Hawks, were investing in the restaurant and putting forward plans to open units all over the place (the next one will be in Miami Beach, they say). Gotham magazine was co-sponsoring the party for some reason.
I showed up and found there was no place to check my bag, which is annoying, but it was my fault that the party was boring. I arrived at 6:38 for a party that was scheduled to run from 6:30 to 11:30.
As a general rule you should wander into a party about an hour after it has started, at the earliest. I know this. I've known it for years and yet I still show up early. I wonder what I'm afraid of missing.
Anyway, by the time I’d finished my “saketini” — which actually was whatever vodka was sponsoring the event shaken with ice and a splash of sake, poured into a martini glass and garnished with a cucumber — I was in a better mood, I'd found a corner to stash my bag, and the party was in full swing. I switched to Champagne and met Sebastian Telfair, a little tiny fellow, bedecked in bling but extremely cordial. One of Philippe's publicists asked Mr. Telfair who he was and what team he played for. You'd think if you were a rather well-known basketball player and were investing in a business, you would expect that business's publicist to look you up on the Web or something before coming to your party, but he seemed unperturbed (I just looked him up on the Web and the NBA claims that he's six feet tall; it must have been a very tall party).
I hung out a bit with Josh Ozersky, a meat expert who recently was named New York magazine's online food editor (good thing I've always been nice to him), and I met food writer Ed Levine and the Australian guy who's on the WPLJ morning show. Texan chef Tim Love, who's opening Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in New York next month, caught me up with what he was doing.
Then Zak Pelaccio and I exchanged impressions of Buddakan (summary: I loved it, he didn't).
Many hors d'oeuvres, largely dumplings, spring rolls and satay, were passed around, many so fresh-out-of-the-fryer that you couldn't eat them right away.
That's impressive, so I was glad that I had arranged to have dinner there the following night with my colleague Janette Clark. Janette had met another one of Philippe's owners, Chris Brantley, at Nobu last month and he expressed an interest in having me come in and check it out, so I took Janette with me and left it up to Philippe to decide what we'd eat.
This is what he decided:

chicken satay
squab with lettuce wrap and plum sauce
crispy vegetable leaf with smoked chicken and walnuts
Nine seasons spicy prawns
House filet mignon in brown garlic sauce
Shrimp fried rice
sautéed string beans

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Exclusive event!

August 16

Last week I got an e-mail with the subject hed: "invite (sshhh)!! mommy & baby editor's preview"
After pleasantries about how hot it is out there, I was told "I‘m inviting you to this event we are holding next Friday (August 18th) – we’re only inviting select media contacts that work in the child & mommy space. We are debuting over 25 brand new, really unique under the radar companies that have recently launched new product lines just in time for holiday and new years."
Since I write about food trends in restaurants for the trade press, I think my mommy is probably the only mommy who reads my stuff, and she's not doing it to find new products to aid in raising kids; her youngest child is 34, after all.
But I get lots of disingenuous invitations from publicists who are unware of their own pathetic transparency — or maybe they are aware, know that their messages will mildly irritate people like me whom they don't care about, and perhaps touch the hearts of those they are trying to lure to their event. I usually just delete them, or if they're really bad I forward them to other editors and we have a good laugh.

But these jokers then tried again, thanking me for showing interest in the event.

"Some of the comments we have received: 'this is the talk of the town', 'this is the best invite I've received all summer' ..."
I think my best invite this summer, apart from the one to meet my newborn niece, was a trip to Thailand that I was unable to take, but perhaps the parenting-publication world is less glamourous.
Still, the message told me in no uncertain terms that only "media mommies" and "media that work in the mommy & child space ONLY [sic]" are invited.
Since the rest of the press release is such nonsense, I figure the part about it being exclusive is also untrue, so I thought I'd just let you know, should you feel like crashing a party, that the event is at a Beach House at 2 Saddle Lane in East Hampton. Maybe you could stop by and pick up some free stuff.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Whither Bill Yosses?

August 11

Bill Yosses was the pastry chef at Bouley Bakery for some years. Then he became pastry chef of Citarella, which was later renamed Josephs by Citarella. That restaurant's executive chef, Brian Bistrong — also a Bouley alumnus — left and became executive chef of The Harrison, and Bill became executive chef of Josephs.
But it closed in April, I'm trying to hunt Bill down and his e-mails are bouncing.
If you happen to know where he is, please let me know.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I’m from Jersey! Are you from Jersey?

August 10

When meeting a famous person, even a slightly famous person, I have to struggle not to make an idiot of myself. I'm not particularly starstruck, but I do want to make a good impression; I want to be remembered.
Fortunately, the side of me that would rather leave no impression than a bad one wins out more often than not, so I didn’t utter the title of this blog entry when meeting Joe Piscopo at the Beard House last night. Instead I just told him my name and he said that it was nice to see me, which is safer than “nice to meet you,” a phrase you don’t want to say to someone you’ve met before.
The former Saturday Night Live cast member (really former; he left in 1985) is friends with Barry Gutin, who owns Cuba Libre, Brûlée and other places in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
Cuba Libre chef Guillermo Veloso was in charge of dinner at the Beard House last night, and pastry chef Jemal Edwards from Brûlée made dessert.
Mr. Gutin came up with his staff and friends, and I ate with him, his GM, his publicist, his beverage guy, a journalist from South Jersey, some other PR people and Joe Piscopo.
He looks trim and kind of stately these days, and sort of like he has internalized a bit of the Frank Sinatra impersonation he used to do.
He shared a few polite tales of the SNL days, reminiscing about getting Eddie Murphy out of his dressing room two minutes before showtime, but not going into detail about what he was doing in there. But mostly everyone talked about their kids. I don’t have any, so I talked about my nieces and nephew instead.
When the chefs were introduced, Jemal Edwards made a big deal out of the fact that we had been served a three-course dessert. But, excessive as it may seem, three-course desserts aren’t that uncommon at the Beard House or at other high-end food events. A fruit "pre-dessert," often is followed by something heavier, often containing chocolate, and then petits fours are served with coffee. It’s a bit grand to pair the pre-dessert and the dessert with different wines, but it’s not unheard of.
Edwards did something I like, though. He started with a small chocolate dessert and followed it with a fruity one. That makes more sense than the other way around. The higher acid content of fruit desserts can really clean up the chocolate-coated palate. Finish up with a high-tannin tea and you're golden.
The wines were selected by the staff of Vino Noir, Gutin's soon-to-open Atlantic City wine bar. The wine-list will be all-electronic with web-browsing ability, a concept speerheaded by Aureole in Las Vegas. But Vino Noir offers the added option, if you really like a particular wine that you're drinking, to order a case of it instantly online.

What I ate and drank:

Chino-Latino Summer Rolls
Lobster Empanadas
Caviar Spoons
Mixed Anticuchos
Cuba Libre Signature Mojitos

Roasted Squab Breast and Tasajo of Squab Leg with Herb and Aromatic–Infused Squab Broth
Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2003

10 Cane Tuna — Toro Marinated in Soy, Guava, and 10 Cane Rum, and Braised Pork Belly with King Crab, Calabaza, Coconut Calasparra Rice Tian, and Guava Gastrique
Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2004

Guinea Boliche — Braised Guinea Hen Leg Stuffed with Foie Gras, Sweet Plantains, Olives, and Rum-Soaked Raisins and Roasted Guinea Hen Breast with Garlic Flan, Quail Egg, and Serrano Crisps
Numanthia Tinta de Toro 2003

Lamb en Tres Actos — Lamb Picadillo Empanadita; Crispy Lamb Frita; and Roasted Lamb Rib Chop with Roncal and Malanga Mash, Served with Baby Arugula in Porcini Mojo and Cilantro Essence
Bell Wine Cellars Big Guy Red 2002

Petite Chocolate–Hazelnut Cream Cone with Caramelized Hazelnuts and Frangelico Crème Anglaise
Broadbent 10-Year-Old Malmsey Madeira

Summer Strawberry Fantasy > Honey Financier with Tahitian Vanilla Panna Cotta, Strawberry Gelée, Strawberry-Basil Foam, Navan Vanilla–Cognac Sautéed Wild Strawberries, and Almond-Strawberry Croquant
Prager Sweet Claire Riesling 2003

Truffles, Bonbons, and Petits Fours

East Colfax

August 10

I was in Denver last week, visiting family and attending the naming ceremony of my new niece, Alia.
I grew up right in the middle of Denver, in Capitol Hill, and for the past 30 years, since I was nine (9!) years old, I have taken pretty much every opportunity to wander down what remains in many ways my favorite strip of America.
Simple-minded people think of East Colfax as a long row of sleaze — something that I would expect the Catholic Church might resent, since its Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is there, separated by a parking lot and Pennsylvania Street from a McDonald's; Chinese restaurants, convenience stores, empty buildings and Duman's Custom Tailoring all are across the street.
The capitol building is on Colfax, too, and I imagine the Colorado State government, or at least parts of it, might also feel bad about being stamped as sleazy. Besides, not nearly as many drunks are sleeping on the capitol's lawn as there were a couple of decades ago.
The 40-block stretch of Colfax from Broadway to Colorado Boulevard is an agglomeration of people just being themselves. If they look like drifters, they're really drifters, probably having recently gotten off the bus at the Greyhound station a block north of there (the mosaic in the station, of two different-colored hands, made out of the sort of male and female icons you see on bathroom doors, grasping each other, was done by my cousin, artist Doug Kornfeld).
There are day laborers waiting for work at the agencies on Colfax that hire them, and skate punks (skate punks never went out of style in Denver; I don't know why). I often overhear conversations recounting brushes with the law or the collapse of a romance, or both ("I told him that I wasn't going to get thrown in jail for his sorry ass...")
There are patrons of the only lesbian coffee house I know of, and customers at shops selling vintage comic books and posters and music (vinyl, cassettes, CDs). Each of those stores smells comfortably of shredded cardboard and dust.
Other shops sell used furniture. The headquarters of the local Guardian Angels chapter is on East Colfax, next to an Office Depot. There are martial arts centers and community organizations, chain restaurants and indies — including a former IHOP, with the signature roof, that's now the independent Mama's Café. I used to go to that IHOP after the midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Ogden theater, which is now a venue for live performances.
And there's some sleaze, too. Kitty's, a 24-hour adult book, video etc. emporium, is bookended by two bars apparently owned by a Cervantes fan. They're named Sancho's Broken Arrow (A Thinking Place) and Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey.
There are many check cashing places, and tattoo parlors — the classiest looking one has polished hardwood floors and plush leather couches and also does piercings.
There are a couple of important liquor stores nearby, a gay bar, an Irish pub, and The Satire Lounge, where I recently had green chile — a New Mexican delicacy — so good it made me want to cry.
My high school, East, is on Colfax, and fast food restaurants nearby cater to the students there. Recently the theater across the street from East that for years was Bonfils and then was Lowenstein is now The Tattered Cover, a gigantic bookstore that was forced to relocate from increasingly tony, increasingly boring Cherry Creek North. It lost its lease.
Efforts are underway pretty much all the time to add some tone to East Colfax, as if its own natural rhythm were unworthy. A recently built condominium and retail complex sits mostly fallow just east of Greek Town (something of a misnomer; a few Greek restaurants, a Greek bakery and something called the "Greek Social Club" are there, but so are Chinese and Ethiopian restaurants, and a Caribbean bakery and "marketplace").
East Colfax mostly ignores those efforts, and glides along in its own way, a natural, slowly evolving stretch of humanity (or not in some cases — at least two barber shops on the avenue still say they do great flat tops). Every neighborhood I've visited in New York seems predictably scripted by comparison.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vodka redux

Paul Adams has made some insightful comments about vodka that you might find interesting.

Truffled popcorn

July 26

A light went off in my head as I was reading the bio of Per Se’s chef de cuisine, Jonathan Benno. I interviewed him today for a special section in Nation’s Restuarant News that comes out on August 14.
The section’s called "The Next Generation of Talent," and it profiles half a dozen chefs recommended by some of the country's top chefs as great protégés.
Jonathan Benno was one Thomas Keller's picks.
His other choices, in case you were wondering, were Grant Achatz, Corey Lee, Eric Ziebod, Ron Siegel, Gregory Short, Stephen Durfee, Ryon Poli and John Fraser. I bet you wish you had such good protégés.
I could only pick one, though, and for reasons of my own I picked Jonathan Benno.
Part of his résumé- and experience-building process was a stint with Michael Mina at Aqua in San Francisco.
Now that’s interesting, because one of New York's very earliest bits of exposure to Per Se’s food was at Chef’s Night Out, the pre-Beard Award party, in 2004.
The party was held at the Time Warner Center and a bunch of the restaurants there served food. Per Se's offering was truffled popcorn. People gushed. They oohed and aahed: "Can you imagine truffled popcorn? Amazing!"
Which of course it wasn't. Michael Mina, when cooking for the Citymeals-on-Wheels event not long before, also served truffled popcorn. It's been a signature item of his for years.
I accused Jonathan of being the truffled popcorn connection and he looked annoyed. He said that neither he nor Michael Mina invented truffled popcorn. I didn't press the issue because I knew he was right. According to Mina, truffled popcorn was invented near the turn of the century (as in a few years ago), at his Aqua restaurant in Liguna Niguel, Calif., by his chef de cuisine at the time, Jeff Lloyd.
Mina was trying to think of an interesting lounge snack to be served at the big deck outside the restaurant and Lloyd suggested doing something new with popcorn.
Mina had just received a shipment of white truffles, and he stored them in unpopped popcorn.
The popcorn retained a surprising amount of truffle aroma when they popped it, and they finished it with butter flavored with truffle shavings.