DC Safeway Sells Truffles

Fancy people living in DC can satisfy their truffle craving by heading over to a Safeway in Georgetown, which is selling the hypogeous delicacy for $999.99/lb.

You usually have to go to a specialty store or have an underground connection to get truffles, so it’s very odd to see these on the shelves of a name-brand retail supermarket.

Truffles are often preserved in rice to absorb moisture. I have circled the two visible truffles in red.

The truffle market has traditionally been monopolized by Europeans, but the Safeway truffles are grown on US soil. Which is good, because with times being what they are, Beltway dinner-makers might be calculating that if you’re going to indulge in excess, at least buy American.

By Far the Most Expensive Thing at Safeway [The Georgetown Metropolitan] (Thanks to Grant!)

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  1. danmac says:

    The DC Safeway always has lots of truffles…for some reason the politicians on Capitol are really good and sniffing them out.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Well, since the truffles are sitting in the rice, it would absorb the water. Not like when you stick a cellphone in there, and there is no contact with the water.

    • Zowzers says:

      vapor isn’t contact?

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        If it’s “vapor”, then it’s not on/in the electronics. I did a small experiment where I placed a shot glass filled with a measured weight of water in a sealed jar with rice,also pre-weighed, outside the shot glass. After 4 days, the water weight had gone down, while the rice had gained nearly any weight. My theory was that it was in the air in the jar, but not absorbed by the rice.

        If rice could absorb “vapor”, then the woven bags of rice on supermarket shelves would be bursting and I could “cook” a bowl of rice by leaving on my window sill on a humid day.

        • courtarro says:

          Perform the same experiment with a control:
          Setup A – shot glass with a measured amount of water, sitting in a sealed jar filled with rice.
          Setup B – shot glass with same amount of water, sitting in a sealed jar without any other contents.

          I was going to suggest sand for setup B, but sand is much more densely packed and it would be difficult to cancel out the change in the volume of remaining air in the jar.

          • mattarse says:

            I’ll do the same test but with a shot of tequila in front of me and we’ll see holg long until my mouth osmosissis it.

        • Zowzers says:

          Its a simple process of osmosis in which there were two of these processes in your experiment.

          The first one being the transfer of water between the shot glass and air. Water in its liquid form is effectively saturated, as in you can not add in any more H2O molecules in to the same volume. Air being what it is can only suspend so much water vapor before it too becomes saturated. The amount of water vapor it can suspend being highly dependent on both temperature and pressure. Once the air is saturated with water vapor the process of osmosis between the water and air stops.

          The second osmosis process is between the air and rice. Rice, having a substantial greater ability to suspend water with in it will start to pull water from the air in to it, albeit at a much slower rate of absorbtion. HOWEVER, because osmosis is a process seeking equilibrium, the amount of water the rice can absorb will be determined by the environment its in. In this case, exposed to the air. This means the rice can only absorb moisture from the air if its moisture content is Less then the air. Once the density of water between the two equalizes the osmosis process stops. (this is why you don’t see rice bags bursting or allow you to cook rice on your window stoop.)

          Had you waited long enough with your experiment, you would have found that the total weight gained by the rice would have been equal to half the weight lost from the water. Remember, the amount of moisture the air can suspend varies with temperature and pressure, so with out controlling those your experiment results are inaccurate. As osmosis is a process of equilibrium, when temperature and/or pressure changed you could see the air absorbing from the liquid water and transferring it to the rice at some point during the day and at others pulling moisture from both the water and rice.

          as far as rice in a bag drying a wet cellphone; the idea is that since the air and rice are more then likely at an equilibrium and presumably under the air’s saturation point then adding in a wet cellphone throws off the equilibrium of the system. Nature takes its course and tries to re-equalize. Liquid water turns to water vapor which then gets absorbed by the rice. and Hopefully the volume of water on the cellphone is less then the amount of water vapor the air + rice can absorb, leaving you with a dry cellphone.

        • dangermike says:

          It could be that amount of water in air at 100% relative humidity at “room” temperatures is simply insufficient to noticeably swell the rice. When you cook rice, you’re doing more than just saturating it water. You’re opening up the starch chains and essentially wedging water in them. A significant amount of heat is required to crack the starches.

          The way I would do the experiment would be to start with a large amount of rice — at least a pound or so, measured on a decigram sensitivity scale or better, spread the grains out on a cookie shoot or something, bake them at about 225 for an hour or two to drive off any already-absorbed water, cool, weigh, then expose them to a high humidity environment at least overnight and still spread out on a cookie sheet, then reweigh them.

    • Tim says:

      By your theory, the rice would only absorb the water on the very outside of the truffle.

      In reality it works through diffusion. Rice causes the air around it to become drier, which pulls vapor out of the truffles.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Rice doesn’t readily absorb moisture from the air, or else the woven 20-50lb bags of rice I buy at the store would be bulging from all the moisture in the air there.

        I am guessing when the truffles arrive at the store, they are at a moisture level they need to be, however they are processed by the seller. When they arrive, however, judging by this picture, they are stored in a cooler case inside a plastic box that is not airtight. The rice will stop moisture from soaking into the truffles when it collects on the cooled surface. So it will absorb the moisture that the case collects, but probably not dry the truffles out. From what I read, truffles are can be ruined by drying out. I also read that storing them in rice or cornmeal has a dual effect of temporarily preserving them, and also flavoring the rice/cornmeal.

        • satoru says:

          Yeah the whole ‘rice absorbs air moisture’ really doesn’t make any sense especially if you live in Asia. With nearly 100% humidity every day of the year, rice would either go bad really really fast, or you could ‘cook’ rice by setting it in a bowl and leaving it out for an hour. I’ve hard shirts and pants gotten covered in mold, but rice was always mold free no matter what.

          • dcarrington01 says:

            Guess you guys have never lived or visited the south where the humidity causes the salt in the shakers to form into one giant clump. We/they put some rice in the salt shakers to keep the salt all nice and dry so you get individual crystals and not huge lumps or none at all!

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

              Actually, that’s not what it does. The rice breaks up the “clump” and stops it from forming a solid mass. When you flip it over, it aggitates the salt and the smaller clumps rub up against each other, breaking them up. Even Alton Brown, from the South, says this. It’s also why I keep unpopped popcorn kernels in my kosher salt.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      I still say a bath in deionized water followed by a 4 hour (battery free) 130 degree oven sauna is the best cure for any normal phone dousing.

      • dangermike says:

        DI is nice if it has hard water trapped inside. But for fast and effective drying, a quick dousing in a light alcohol can drastically reduce the necessary oven time and/or temperature.

  3. muddymaesuggins says:

    huh? I saw truffles at Wegmans the other day in Fairfax, Va. I really dont think this is that uncommon.

    • mischlep says:

      I was going to say that I have also seen them in Wegmans. I’m not sure it’s the most expensive item I’ve ever seen by the pound, I think saffron is pretty high up there when you price it per pound.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      I literally just finished a rant about how much of an injustice that location does to the Wegman’s name. I had previously only been to the location in Woodbridge. Fairfax was a giant waste of gas and patience. (Sorry for the random outburst!)

      On topic, Balducci’s carries truffles as well. Then again, it’s Balducci’s.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Why is the one in Fairfax a waste of gas? I love the one in Fairfax. It’s always clean, the prices are great, and while it might be aggravating to get in and out of the parking lot, that can be said for most popular grocery stores.

        • clint07 says:

          Agreed, I have never had any problems with the Fairfax location, other than the fact that it can be busier than my liking at time (but that seems to be all grocery stores down here)

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          The waste of gas is due to the distance I traveled to get there. Not necessarily their fault as I could’ve chosen a closer location. It’s not bad as a standalone, but comparatively, it sucks.

        • Shmonkmonk says:

          To all those arguing about the best Wegman’s in NoVa, I’m going to have to go with Ashburn/Sterling. I’m pretty sure it was the first in DC/Metro area so it’s a little older than the rest but their staff is very experienced and the layout of the store just seems to flow better. For second best, I nominate Wegman’s in Leesburg/Landsdowne. Sorry Fairfax and Prince William, Loudoun’s got you beat.

      • Rachacha says:

        Why was Fairfax Wegmans an injustice to the Wegmans name? Perhaps as a native of Rochester (the hometown of Wegmans) and having seen the worst of the worst Wegmans stores (which are still often better than the best stores of some other chains) I look at Fairfax and say this is a nice (relatively) new store that is well maintained. My only complaints about Wegmans in the VA area are:
        1) They are not open 24 hours
        2) On Monday afternoons, their baked goods section is picked over because the last shippment they received was Saturday Evening
        3) On weekends the place is like a madhouse with all of the native Upstate NYers making their weekly meca to Wegmans.

        I have only been to the Woodbridge store once, but as far as the look and the products, I believe they are comperable. Fairfax is simply a different layout because their wine shop is in the basement.

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          I go to the Woodbridge location about twice a month when I visit family. I always leave with a trunk full of groceries. They are not comparable, at all. Trust. It’s significantly smaller (the teeny aisles and lack of selection leaves a lot to be desired!), the produce is not nearly as diverse or as fresh, the Wine Shop is a joke, the prices are ridiculous (this could be due to Woodbridge being in the middle of nowhere), the samples were lacking, the staff wasn’t as friendly/knowledgeable and they don’t have any of the prepared or oven-ready foods I normally get. Even the regular grocery section didn’t have as much of a selection due to its much smaller size and nowhere to put it. There was some construction going on when I went there, so hopefully they are working to improve it. Like I said, it’s not a bad grocery store as a standalone, I would frequent it if I was a local, but it’s not anything to write home about. I specifically drove to the Fairfax area (over an hour with traffic) because I was looking for the kind of experience I have at the Woodbridge location. If I wanted slightly above average, I would’ve just gone to a Harris Teeter.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to go into Woodbridge. I’ll take Fairfax anyday.

          • Rachacha says:

            It seems funny to say that a 120,000sf grocery store is small :-) But you are correct, Woodbridge is about 140,000sf and Fairfax is 125,000sf. Compare that with Giant Foods (average 45,000sf) and WalMart (average 108,000sf). All of the Wegmans stores that I have been in have always had tight aisles (wide enough barely for 3 carts side by side). I want to get out to the Leesburg store which is supposed to be larger than Woodbridge.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Pfft…and they call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck” – truffles at Whole Foods are only $900 a pound.

  5. Beeker26 says:

    Can I buy them with food stamps?

  6. Tim says:

    This Safeway also has Cristal. I thought about buying it once, because they had all wine 10% off or something.

    • Ziggie says:

      When I was in college in DC, we referred to this Safeway as the “Social Safeway.” It’s where all the residents of the Georgetown area shop (including the super wealthy) — that and a nearby Whole Foods. I remember seeing Lieberman and his wife at the Whole Foods near there after the 2000 election. Not surprised at all that this Safeway has $999 / lbs truffles.

  7. Thyme for an edit button says:

    The Real Housewives can buy it

  8. NarcolepticGirl says:

    So… has anyone had these? What’s so great about them? How are they used?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Sadly, I have only ever had truffle oil, which is definitely not made from truffles. As far as I can tell from my faux truffle experience, it adds a bit of woodsyness to a dish. I had truffle oil in a squash soup and it was delightful. I don’t think it would have been nearly as good without the truffle oil, honestly.

      • DoubleBaconVeggieBurger says:

        I thought truffle oil was olive oil with a small amount of truffles infused?

        I fell in love with a bottle of truffle oil at a wine store in Italy, and HAD to buy a bottle of it. I’ve thought it tasted gross every other time I’ve had it. Maybe I need to drink more wine beforehand.

        • Megalomania says:

          Some truffle oil is, but most stuff just includes a synthetic chemical that imitates the taste, and not all that well.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Ugh, truffle oil: smells like gasoline and rubber cement. I enjoy a lot of high end culinary delicacies, but I never understood truffle oil.

    • deadandy says:

      They are an extremely rare type of mushroom, and the flavor is quite unique and delicate. Most people shave paper-thin slices of them on to things like pasta dishes. So, $1000/lb sounds exorbitant, but people really use insanely small amounts. You might buy an ounce and use it for many things.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Is there a reason why people can’t just grow these on their own?

        (I don’t know anything about gardens/plants)

        • deadandy says:

          The growing conditions required are so unique that they are only harvested in the wild. They have to use animals that are trained to sniff them out just to find them!

        • MuffinSangria says:

          It’s fungus, just grow it on your feet.

        • teh says:

          They grow just fine in the northwest — we’ve found a few before using the “raking” method. If there’s a nearby mushroom society, they’ll help teach you.

        • satoru says:

          It’s similar to the problem with wasabi. It requires very specific growing conditions that are hard to replicate outside of their region of origin. With truffles almost no one knows how they actually grow, and they take about 4-5 years to get started which makes experimentation difficult before going bankrupt. Truffles are also notoriously fickle in terms of when they sprout and die off really quickly once they do. It also doesn’t help that they look like just blobs of dirt, so it’s difficult to tell what’s a truffle and what’s just dirt, thus why they have dogs and pigs hunt for them in the forest of France.

    • Sayersj629 says:

      I once had goat cheese with black truffle shavings. It was horrible, I thought something died in my mouth. I know goat cheese has a unique flavor so it was obviously the truffle shavings causing the dead flavor.

    • qwickone says:

      Assuming they are good quality truffles, they’re like the most delicious mushrooms you’ve ever had. I once had truffle and goat cheese tacos and they were freakin amazing. I could only afford them once though :(

    • Angus99 says:

      I haven’t had them, but for that price, they better get me really high.

    • Commenter24 says:

      I’ve had a delicious burger stuffed with truffles, beef short rib and foi gras. dB Bistro in NYC. Unfortunately it’s a $40 burger.

      • GLaDOS says:

        hat sounds delicious and just like the one I had in Saint Paul at the American Burger Bar! It was awesome and had the same ingredients as yours, except my hamburger patty was kobi beef. Best part was that it was only $25 with fries!

    • chefguru says:
    • Anonymously says:

      They’re good for “buying” the judges on Iron Chef America

    • mommiest says:

      I sometimes order them before Christmas, and make truffle butter with them. Eggs scrambled in truffle butter are scrumptious, and good bread smeared with it is delicious. Last week, I pulled a container out of the freezer and melted some on popcorn. Four thumbs up from the family. I can make a couple of pounds of truffle butter with a few ounces of truffles, and it keeps months in the freezer. Also, I have given it as gifts.

  9. Nogard13 says:

    I hope this Safeway doesn’t have a self-checkout or people will be ringing these up as Jalapeños or something similar and walking away with some nice truffles at a great price.

    Not that I’d ever do something like that.

    • Tim says:

      It does have self-checkouts, but there’s obviously a lock on the case, so store employee probably have a way to make sure people pay what they should.

  10. mbz32190 says:

    Pfft…overcharging Safeway again. These are half that price at the Wegmans near me.

  11. MrD90 says:

    A local chain here called Giant Eagle just recently opened an upscale version of their grocery store called Market District, and they sell black truffles at $140/lb. Poor DC, Safeway is ripping you off.

  12. tedyc03 says:

    Apparently someone has never walked down their store’s spice and herb isle and taken a good hard look at the per-pound price on them. Some of them are $800+ per pound.

    Would you have posted this if the price were listed as $62.49 an ounce?

    • XianZomby says:

      Exactly. Especially if you’re going to make saffron-coated truffles.

      I don’t care about the other spices though, becasue I’m just mad about saffron.

  13. madtube says:

    The Wegmans in Woodbridge sells them too. I always joke with my wife about getting some. She never laughs.

  14. superfluousK says:

    How much for one truffle?

    • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

      I did the calculations just now. The average size for a truffle is about 30-60 grams. So, basically, the truffles are about $2.20 a gram. Basically, for a small truffle, you’ll be shelling out around $66.

  15. Hoss says:

    Putting a case out with the word “Truffles” is like putting a case out with the word “Wine” or “Caviler” Unless you’re trained, how would you know what the heck they’re selling?

  16. qbubbles says:

    Nothing special, here. Its DC. You see truffles at the 7-11.

  17. OnePumpChump says:

    “Largesse” is when you give stuff away.

  18. teletone says:

    How ’bout I give you a dollar and you let me lick the case?

  19. semanticantics says:

    If they were grown in the US, this is way over priced. I got fresh black and white truffles from Oregon for a “mere” $20 / oz. two years ago.

    I understand a farmer in IN has been able to replicate the growing conditions of the most coveted Euro versions, the black truffle from France and the white truffle from Italy.

  20. Dutchess says:

    There’s a Salt Store near me (yes a salt store, with more than 150 varieties of salt) and they have a black truffle infused salt that is too die for. It’s like $150/pound but you don’t need very much.

    The flavor is rich and intense, very earthy…it’s excellent on potatoes and chicken or anything startchy.

    yummmm

    • satoru says:

      Reminds me of saffron, where you only need a tiny amount of the stuff (mostly because saffron costs a small fortune to get)

      • qualia says:

        Two little teeny flakes of saffron will turn a pot of rice bright yellow. You don’t need more than that.

  21. satoru says:

    $1000/lb isn’t that much

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229303,00.html

    Go large or go home! :)

  22. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    I see what you did there!

    +2!

  23. zjgz says:

    These are about 400$ a pound (or maybe an ounce) at the wegman’s near me.

  24. Norvy says:

    truffle shuffles, on the other hand, are gratis.

  25. Owl Says South says:

    Grown on US soil… so they shipped it to France?

  26. Big Mama Pain says:

    These prices are a rip off if they are US grown “truffles”. I don’t even think you can consider them even remotely the same thing as French truffles.

  27. Truffle Tzarina says:

    The only fresh truffle that can be harvested at this time of year is Tuber aestivum, which can easily be found for as little as $150/lb. It is a very mild truffle. The only black truffle that sells for this price is the Tuber melanosporum, the black, “perigord” truffle harvested from December to March. It is grown domestically in NC, TN, VA, and part of SC. Just as there is a huge difference between white buttom mushrooms and shiitakes, there is a huge difference between Tuber aestivum and Tuber melanosporum, as well as other truffles. Betty Garland, Garland Truffles, Inc.

  28. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Anyone who can pay $1000 for a couple of mushrooms can afford to pay a little more in taxes so my mom doesn’t die from lack of proper health care.