MarkBernstein.org
Jun 20 24 2020

Truffle Shuffle

Truffle Shuffle

COVID house fouled up a lot of business plans. Here’s one.

Truffle Shuffle is a San Francisco startup, planned by some French Laundry alumni. Its purpose was to sell truffles to restaurants in a more sensible and reliable fashion. That makes great sense, but along comes COVID and their customers are closed and the entire restaurant business is in peril.

Undaunted — and with lots of truffles on hand — Truffle Shuffle pivoted to what’s left: home cooks. So this Sunday, they’re teaching a hands-on (but socially distant) class on truffle risotto. I just received my kit, complete with a little satchel of truffled rice, some truffled salt, and even ingredients for making a cocktail shaker of Bees Knees with truffled honey.

This makes a lot of sense. People like risotto, but my impression is that they don’t cook it that much. There’s a lot of tosh about risotto — indeed about lots of Northern Italian cooking — that amounts to speculative distinctions between really good and even better. It helps if you occasionally eat chicken, and therefore have stock on hand, but nowadays you can buy decent stock at the store. The mechanics of risotto aren't hard, and they’re actually easier at home, where you can hang out for a few minutes around the stove and chat, than in a restaurant where people are waiting for dinner. But there’s enough variation that it will be interesting to see and hear how serious cooks approach it.

The course and its kit serves two (four if this is a primi) and costs $125. You can save 10% with the coupon Eastgate10. I’ve been comped, though I was planning to order a kit anyway. The class is 4PM Pacific/7PM Eastern this Sunday.

The 2020 Summer Festival Off Artisanal Software is here.

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by Suzanne Collins

The passion and care that animated The Hunger Games has been worn away by the sequels, the films and the hoopla. This prequel examines how the Hunger Games got started and how they became the reality show we all came to know. I had always thought that Collins could write a fine book about Mentors, and this novel tries.

The Katniss novel is told in the first person, which creates a technical problem: there’s lots that Katniss doesn’t know, and lots that she knows so well that she’d never give it a thought. Those constraints helped Collins build a rich world, one where much was half hidden in the shadows. This time, she sticks to third person, perhaps to provide some distance. There is, in the end, so much distance that the shadows are wiped away.