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Attention, Treasure Hunters!

December 12, 2014

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I’M NOT SURE what I was looking for the other day, scrolling through the menu at Costco.com. But what I found, listed under Grocery & Floral-Deli, was: truffles–white truffles from Alba, in Italy’s Piedmont. At $299.99 for 2 ounces, minimum. (And that SpottedTrufflesWebincludes overnight shipping.)

Wow. I acknowledge that I’m not a truffle person. But I know a gastronomic opportunity–and bargain–when I spot one. These Alba truffles (hunted in Italy by little terriers, not pigs–just sayin’) go for $245 per ounce at Dean & DeLuca. Okay, they’re the pricey kid on the culinary block, but still.

Mike Dorpat, food buyer for Costco’s online assortment, tells me Costco.com has carried fresh winter truffles since 2008, so I’m way behind the curve on this. The retailer does not release sales figures, but he agrees that it’s a niche product, perfect for the website, not for stocking throughout the Costco chain of 474 membership warehouses.

Mike added, “We actually sell quite a bit to restaurants . . . We sell a ton (not literally) of caviar online too, [of] which quite a bit goes to restaurants.”

That all makes sense, given Price Club/Costco’s origins as a kind of buying service for small businesses.

Pay heed, though, to the website’s admonition: “Please note your truffles are fully mature upon arrival and should be consumed within 120 hours of delivery.” In the past some of us (ahem) have got caught up in the cool factor of Alba truffles and stored them in arborio rice (they scent the rice nicely) and then . . . and then didn’t use them in time. Sigh.

–Nancy McKeon

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