Tag Archives: Chef Arik Bensimon

Fungus Alert: Barcelona Restaurants Now Selling Truffle Oil and Truffle Shavings!

25 Jun

Kristien and I always say that we went into the wrong business.  See, truffles are the most expensive food in the world, though it’s quite a mess and pain to get them.  Dogs and pigs are trained to sniff out and find the truffles, but the dirty work can often go to the humans who chase after and dig to find the famed treasure.  The ends justify the means, though:  a 3.3 lb. white truffle sold at auction for $330,000 and a little less than a three-pounder was sold to the same buyer for the same price.  Truffles of that size are rare, thus the hefty price tag, but more commonly you can expect these prices:

♥ White truffles = $5900 per pound.

♥ Black Périgord truffles = $575 per pound.

♥ Black summer truffles = $670 per pound.

♥ Pecan truffles = $100 per pound.

See what we mean?  We need to move to Italy or France and take up truffle farming.  Alas, that’s just a dream, but we can still enjoy truffles and truffle oil in and on our food.  One of the best truffle dishes that we’ve ever tasted came from Chef Arik Bensimon at Napa & Co.  It was a local duck egg with thick, thick slices of black truffle.  At first the smell was overwhelming, then intoxicating.  When you took a bite, something changed…you realized why truffles are so loved and didn’t want the dish to end, nor the truffles to disappear.

We’re sharing this with you because Barcelona Restaurants has teamed up with the Urbani Group (they control 70% of the truffle trade) to produce and sell white truffle oil and truffle shavings.  Let’s start with the truffle oil.  You get 8.45 oz for $28 which might seem expensive because you can buy “truffle oil” in stores for $12.  Barcelona’s Culinary Director Adam Halberg has said, though, that many grocery stores add in additives and artificial ingredients to mimic the taste of truffles.  So, at most stores you’ll end up paying for fake-flavored oil.  Go ahead and look at the ingredients next time, you might be surprised.  But, by working with Urbani, Barcelona is able to give you olive oil actually infused with real, gosh-darn truffles.  Think of adding to pizzas, risotto, sauces, and sauces such as the white truffle sauce (this is an excellent dish, btw) that goes on top of Barcelona’s hangar steak.

As for the truffles shavings, you buy the slivers in a can, packed in juice.  You can buy 7 oz. for $58.  Again, this is a pretty good deal if you’re looking for truffles to use but can’t afford to put down a few hundred dollars for a nice chunk.  Again, we’d use the shavings in a nice earthy risotto, with steak, eggs like Chef Bensimon, and also in sauces/marinades to really kick the flavor in.

You can get both the white truffle oil and shavings either at one of their restaurants or their online Marketplace.  Here’s a list of Barcelonas with their addresses and numbers for easy reference.  Now, we’re wondering…what’s your favorite dish made with truffles or truffle oil?  Let us know how you made it or where you got it!

4180 Black Rock Tnpk.
Fairfield, CT 06824
Tel: 203.255.0800
Greenwich (Our favorite one!)
18 West Putnam Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06830
Tel: 203.983.6400
New Haven
155 Temple St.
In the Omni New Haven Hotel
New Haven, CT 06510
Tel: 203.848.3000
South Norwalk  
63.65 N. Main St.
S. Norwalk, CT 06854
Tel: 203.899.0088
222 Summer St.
Stamford, CT 06901
Tel: 203.348.4800
West Hartford
971 Farmington Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Tel: 860.218.2100
Atlanta, Georgia
240 N. Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307
Tel: 404.589.1010

About Urbani Truffles USA Corp (Press Release Info) 

From its inception in 1850 under the guidance of Carlo Urbani, the Urbani reputation for excellence has been carefully and faithfully handed down from one generation to the next. We are at the fifth generation of Urbani, managing the company and each new generation blends the traditions and knowledge of the previous one, and adds its own unique sense of enrichment. Now, Urbani is the world leader in fresh truffles and truffled products, controlling 70% of the world’s truffle trade and continue representing the best in truffle sourcing and processing:  Urbani brings the best fresh truffles to tables of restaurants and foodies all over the world, and thanks to the combination of traditional methods and innovative technology specially designed for truffle preservation, enhancing the natural characteristics of the precious tuber and determine new occasions for its use. Important is the presence abroad of the Urbani Group with many offices and connections in several countries.

Bloggers & Co Swoon over Feast from Chef Arik Bensimon. Napa & Co. – Stamford, CT

4 Sep

Mary Schaffer, co-owner of Napa & Co in Stamford reached out to local bloggers and invited us to a special, complimentary blogger dinner.  We’ve been to Napa & Co before for Valentine’s Day a few years ago and really enjoyed the food.  Well, the same applied this time, and we were able to learn even more about the wine, Chef Arik Bensimon, and Napa & Co.  Cooler yet, we chilled with JR from Streets of Stamford, restaurantsCT, and CTbites.  Holla.

To start off, Napa & Co uses local and fresh ingredients and fully embraces the farm-to-table philosophy.  You can taste the difference in the food as you eat it, so fresh and full of flavor.  This is why the food is a bit more expensive here, and we get that… and respect it.  Good, quality ingredients costs money, and we’re willing to pay for it. Okay, enough yapping.  Here’s the food we experienced, broken down by each decadent course:

Amuse bouche to start things off

We love to say that:  amuse bouche.  That just means a small, bite size tidbit given from the chef that “entertains the mouth.”  Yeah, these freaking did.  Beautifully grilled octopus that had nice grill marks and was perfectly tender and bursting with flavor.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, we had pork beignets that were candied, cripsy, and just plain beautiful. The perfect mix of sweet and savory. To. die. for. Mary paired these with the Dayden 2010 Dry Rosé from one of our favorite vineyards, Arizona Stronghold.  Yes, the Arizona Stronghold from Arizona that is co-owned by Eric Glomski and Maynard James Keenan from Tool, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle.  Kristien and I swear that he ate at Napa & Co before his concert last year because of our Twitter recommendations and sold Mary on the wine, but maybe that’s just our imagination (or wishful thinking because we’re obsessed with Maynard).  He also owns and runs Caduceus and Merkin Vineyards and he stars with Eric in the highly acclaimed film Blood into Wine–a must watch.

Course 1

Local duck egg, atop creamy fontina potatoes.  Not amazing enough?  Throw in three (count them, three) thick and oh-so-good slices of black truffles.  Ooooh yeah, black truffles.  That’s like $90 bucks there or something crazy like that.  The egg was poached and cooked perfectly and oozed out onto the potatoes, giving a nice contrast.  The truffles, while we thought would be overpowering at first, actually added a great depth and earthiness to this course.  Mary paired this with Toast by Napa & Co, a nice Brut.

Course 2

House made fettuccine with oolii mushrooms and saffron.  The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente  and was served with a creamy sauce with nice bites of saffron throughout.  Chef Arik usually has three homemade pasta dishes and sometimes even one magical, hidden pasta dish that’s not always advertised.  Oooh, mystery. Mary paired this with a light and buttery 2008 Chardonnay-Viognier blend from Spann Vineyards.  Simply perfect. This was one of our favorite dishes.

Course 3

Halibut that was marinated for 20 minutes with salt and fennel pollen, then blanched and pan fried.  Serve that up with some flavorful broth and hen of the woods mushrooms, and you’ve got a killer dish.  The fennel pollen added an almost floral taste to the meal which really added so much more depth to this dish.  Pair this with the 2007 Pinot Noir from Dom. Michel Gros, and you’ve got another ridiculously wicked course.

Course 4

Slow cooked lamb belly, with lemon, chives and tarragon, Beltane Farms yogurt on top, and a Fava bean mash on the bottom.  The lamb was tender, juicy and flavored very well.  The yogurt was tart and added a wonderful contrast to the inherent fattiness of the lamb belly.  Chef Arik sent us out some brussel sprouts and we loaded up my plate:  they were caramelized, flavorful, and made us lean back in our seats in awe.  This course came with an impressive 2004 Barolo from Michele Chiarlo.

Course 5

Grass fed brisket with local corn and heirloom tomatoes.  The au jus that the brisket and veggies sat in was so earthy and is the stuff of dreams.  The brisket itself, though, took it up a few more notches.  Delicate, earthy, fall apart on your fork, melt-in-your-mouth-oh-so-goody.  Again, a perfect pairing with a 2005 Spanish Tempranillo from Bodegas Ramon Bilbao set the dish off.

Course 6

We were sad to see the last course, but in a way we were so stuffed, we couldn’t have fit anymore.  Unlike Kristien, I have a natural hatred of all things cheesecake, so I had a big decision to make during the whole meal.  Would I eat the Marscapone Cheesecake that was served with strawberries and basil?  At first I wasn’t sure, but just after the amuse bouche I knew that I trusted Chef Arik to give me something that would blow me away.  Let me say, this was an amazing dessert.  It was not too sweet and just right in terms of creaminess.  The little ribbons of basil, too, added nice bursts of flavor to the cake.  Mary paired this course with a great Muscat from Rurtherglen that wasn’t overly sweet.

The Verdict

Napa & Co is FANTABULOUS on all levels, from ingredients, to wines, to service, to (of course) their dishes. Chef Arik has real, raw, culinary talent.  Napa & Co has fresh, flavor-forward taste, that can satisfy even the pickiest foodies and winos.

If you’re ever want an experience like this, you can always check out Napa & Co‘s site as well as sign up for their e-mails.  They often have wine tastings, wine dinners, and other fun events.  You might consider Napa & Co expensive, but you’re certainly getting what you paid for.  A tip:  try the burger.  Damn, holy hell.

Noms: 4.25

Cost: $$$

Napa & Co

Address: 75 Broad Street

Stamford, CT 06901

Phone: (203) 353-3319

Site:  http://www.napaandcompany.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/napaandcompany

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/napaandcompany

Napa & Co on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: