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(photo by Michael Ryan)

The word truffle unearths images of forest foraging swine, luxurious cuisine, and earthy, pungent flavors. More than just a mushroom, truffles (both black and white) are culinary gems. The small spores can pack some serious flavor.

But to the detriment of many dishes the truffle can easily overpower a plate. Worse off, truffle oil, which in many cases is synthetically made on the cheap, is readily available to anyone with a free wielding pour hand and a sauté pan. T.V. host and culinary curmudgeon Anthony Bourdain’s take on truffle oil: “If I have a mission in life it’s to let people know that truffle oil is f…d up.”

What Bourdain may have been alluding to is that since truffle oil is cheap, lazy chefs think they have a magic bottle of “instant fanciness” while in reality they’re just marring meals and giving the poor truffle a bad name.

If your only experience with the fungus comes from the bottomless basket of truffle fries at the local Garlic Joe’s then you lost out on a few levels already. Truffles are meant to be savored, used in moderation, and held to a higher standard. Not to say that the truffles should be relegated to a life of snobbery. But there should be some sort of middle ground from a multi-Michelin star restaurant and the sample section at the Costco.

Fraiche’s truffle burger seemed like a good compromise.

Fraiche, located on Wilshire Boulevard in Downtown, boasts French fare, a notable happy hour, and when you combine the two their signature sandwich — the truffle burger — is born.

The truffle burger is as French as a burger can get, it’s almost cliché. Onion fondue, boschetto al tartufo (truffle cheese), and truffle aioli, on prime beef and topped on a brioche bun are its makeups. At first bite, the truffle flavors by no means are subtle nor do they overpower. Synergy was happily attained.

The brioche bun, almost over toasted and seemingly too dense, did have the capacity to accommodate the abundance of succulence flowing from the savory burger. The truffle aioli, onion fondue, truffle cheese, and burger juice rendered some sort of super tonic that should probably be bottled and sold to food weirdos like myself.

Only the biggest of cabernets will suffice for such a flavorful burger. And as expected the French fries were very good as well. Fraiche offers a Father’s Office quality burger at Barney’s Beanery prices: $9. Happy hour is happiest with a truffle burger done just right.

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, “Tour de Feast.” To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.

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