Admittedly, truffles – not the candy, but rather the subterranean fungi – are an acquired taste, with a pungent, earthy aroma. You likely either love ‘em or hate ‘em.
I love ‘em, which likely explains why I love the Truffle Old Fashioned on offer at Black Sheep, 216 S. 2nd St., in Walker’s Point.
Made with truffle oil and Belle de Brillet pear liqueur, this unique cocktail has a heavy truffle nose, but that earthy flavor is extremely subtle on the palate. It also has a gorgeous golden hue.
The drink was concocted by managers Ilana Cohn-Gomez and Steve Frame, says Black Sheep co-owner Mike Sorge.
"It is definitely one of our more popular and interesting cocktails to date," Sorge says.
I asked Cohn-Gomez about how the idea germinated.
"Our chef at the time, Adam Pawlak, was hosting a truffle dinner with Joe Muench of Black Shoe hospitality," she recalls. "Steve, Mike and I worked on drink pairings. We decided to try a couple of cocktails along with pairing wines.
"We spent a lot of time testing out different recipes. Most of them were flops. We ended up using a book called ‘The Flavor Bible’ (by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg) to look up flavor profiles for truffles and came across pear."
Fortunately, Cohn-Gomez says, Black Sheep had just gotten a bottle of the Belle de Brillet pear liqueur, which is a blend of Williams pears and Petite Champagne Cognac – that week.
Voila! A cocktail that is not only at home on a special truffle menu, but on a coaster in front of anyone interested in a unique take on an Old Fashioned.
"I love the truffle old fashioned," says Cohn-Gomez. "It tastes delicious and it was a fun collaboration."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.