Usually on a cool fall Sunday evening you can find me putting the finishing touches on my slow-cooked supper – perhaps some braised short ribs, or simmered braciole & meatballs. It’s simply what Italian home cooks do. But when there was mention of an Italian Truffle Dinner at Elements in Princeton, I knew my Le Creuset would be just fine sitting in the cupboard for this one special night.
When you plan to dine at Elements, it’s probably a good idea to eat light the day of, because you’re in for a multi-course feast. Their seasonally driven menu has five dishes featured during the weekend and four on weeknights. If you pay attention to what farm-to-table restaurants have on their menus certain times out of the year, you’ll recognize that November is a popular time for truffles.
The dry summer and rainy September had been ideal for white truffles and these days you can find restaurants creating beautiful truffle themed dinners, as well as Truffle Expos! The obsession over truffles is not surprising, as they make just about every good dish even better… from eggs to mac & cheese!
When you take the elevator up to Elements, you feel like you’ve left New Jersey for some posh city scene. As we passed the open kitchen, I could already begin to smell the earthy aroma of these luxurious tubers. This is not a dinner you would want to sit through with a cold! With truffles, smell is everything.
Every dish presented to us ranged in truffle intensity, but the flavor was always there. The truffled quail egg amuse bouche was warm & creamy, and immediately melted in my mouth – a perfect bite to start the meal. The Fluke and Sea Bream were nice, light dishes, with very subtle truffle flavor. But the truffle came in full-force for the duck Bolognese cavatelli and wagyu/brisket dish with an incredible truffle risotto (made with New Jersey rice).
And while this one-time special truffle dinner has passed, you can still enjoy truffles in some of their dishes on their regular dining menu. It really is a perfect place to dine this holiday season. Thank you, Elements, for re-sparking my love for truffles. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed them in such a well-thought out way! Now all I need is to train my dog to sniff out these hidden mushrooms, book a plane ticket to Alba and spend the rest of my days in truffle-bliss. Maybe even sell a few 😉
If you’re wondering where you can find truffles locally, sometimes I’m lucky enough to catch them at the farmers markets in Mercer & Bucks County. Mainly Mushrooms imports them, but you can also order them online. Just make sure they’re the freshest you can find! And there’s always truffle salt (my favorite variety is the Selezione Tartufi variety with real truffles).