Since I’ve embarked on my foodie adventures, I’ve yet to stumble across a truffle in the flesh — until last week, that is. (Truffles are really expensive fungi.)
Sure, I’ve experienced truffle oil and truffle tapenades but never an actual truffle and it happened in a hidden gem of a restaurant — Fine Palate in Center City.
Open since last October, the restaurant describes itself as “multi-cuisine,” with inventive interpretations of food from around the world. Their recently launched fall menu offers a mix of east meets west, featuring items like tempura-fried shishito peppers and of course, the black truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.
The latter immediately caught my eye when I was perusing the menu, given all the hype truffles have experienced in the culinary world. Curiosity piqued, I set myself up for a life-changing experience, which it was — but not in the way I expected.
The black truffle mac & cheese came out in a smooth stone bowl boasting a generous amount of shaved black truffles on top of a hearty helping of mac ‘n’ cheese.
This was no ordinary mac ‘n’ cheese, however. Forget traditional pasta varieties, this dish was made with fregola sarda, a Sardinian pasta that bears a resemblance to Israeli couscous, although much wider — about two millimeters in diameter.
Covered in creamy Mornay cheese, each bite was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a pasta lover. Simple, soft and comforting, I’d get this dish again — even without the truffles.
So how about those truffles? Well, they definitely added an earthy element to the mac ‘n’ cheese that was distinct. However, if truffles didn’t need to be hunted down by truffle hogs or specially trained dogs, would the world still be so obsessed? If theyweren’t super expensive, would we really care that much?
While I don’t think truffles are worth the hype, I do think this mac ‘n’ cheese is. Paired with a light-bodied red wine and you’ve got a match made in comfort food heaven.
Fine Palate is located at 231 S. 15th St.