One of the appetizers at Osteria Papavero is “antipasti di tartufo” — three dishes with black truffle, subject to chef’s whim and different every night. Truffle is one of those ingredients that I know is distinguished and I know is expensive but which has never really revealed its charms to me. Papavero is helping me out with that problem. I think I’m going to go ahead and order this dish every time I go, because it’s consistently the highlight of the meal.
Tuesday night, one of the plates was a truffled lamb sausage. Long, dark brown, a little pocked, served in a loose coil, looking a little disturbingly like — well, I’ll bet you can guess what it looked a little disturbingly like. But it was superb: coarsely ground, a little gamy or smoky, and rich as hell, without being, you know, stupidly rich. One of the best things I’ve eaten in Madison.
Papavero has a Christmas tree with comic photos of the staff in place of ornaments. Also a Xerox of the greatest New Yorker cartoon of all time:
Image courtesy of a post by Daniel Radosh, who observes that the caption is not identical with the one that originally ran in the magazine. But this version is the one I know and admire.