Chef Elise Wiggins received a small but pricey delivery at Panzano yesterday: one pound of white Alba truffles from the Piedmont region of Italy — shipped here at a cost of $3,163. This particular species — tuber magnatum — is the rarest and most expensive of all truffle varieties, but it also packs the most punch. Wiggins says that after she opened the delivery at her desk, her office was perfumed with the distinct aroma for the rest of the day.
Panzano started offering paper-thin shavings of the truffles for $8 a gram last night, but you can still get in on the action until this batch runs out, which Wiggins hopes will be Friday night, since the fungus loses its potency over time. The best way to experience the unique flavor of white truffles, she explains, is over a dish of Piedmontese tajarin pasta, which Panzano is making fresh with nothing but egg yolks and 00 flour. The tajarin is dressed with sweet melted butter, a little Parmigiano Reggiano, "and then we make it rain truffles," Wiggins says. "It's almost a sin to serve it with anything else."
The chef travels to Italy once or twice a year and has been on many truffle hunts with licensed hunters and their mushroom-sniffing dogs, but she says the best truffles always come from near Alba in northwest Italy. White-truffle season is short, but Panzano will continue to bring them in as long as supplies last, and then she'll switch to another variety.
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Although she recommends the tajarin pasta, Wiggins says customers can order a truffle supplement to any dish on the menu. Find out more at panzano-denver.com.