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Oliveto Truffle Dinner 2007


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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Dinner

Oliveto Truffle Dinner 2007

daveena | | Nov 13, 2007 11:46 PM

Great meal. I've been to other special dinners at Oliveto, but this was my first Truffle Dinner.

Agnolotti dal plin - tiny and flavorful, these were fantastic even without truffles.
Pear charlotte (made with pain d'epice), draped with truffle - this was incredible. The bready outside was crisped and caramelized, and the generous slices of black truffle harmonized beautifully with the warm spices and brandy (I think... couldn't concentrate long enough to identify the alcohol).

Also had:
Poached salted egg with cardoons, celery, and fonduta valdostana - this should have been a slam dunk, and wasn't, for some reason. I think the problem is that I visualized something a little different - I'd visualized a shirred egg, with the fonduta as the shirring medium, I was bizarrely disappointed that the egg was so spread out, rather than deep and compact. Yes, I recognize that this is bizarre. It was still delicious - the egg yolk mixed with cheese and white truffle shavings were as fantastic as I had imagined - I would have loved a stack of toast points, made from a bread with a finer crumb than the standard bread served with dinner (it did the job, but big smooth yeast bubbles = less surface area to scoop up sauce = smaller sauce to bread ratio). I understand the celery was probably there for its astringency, to cut the richness of the dish, but to me, it seemed to clash. I'd love to see some black salsify in its place.

Celery root gnocchi with sea urchin - I chose not to add truffle to this dish, as I was having trouble imagining how the flavors would meld. Halfway through the dish, I realized that white truffles would actually have worked beautifully with the muskiness of the sea urchin. The gnocchi were soft and a bit gummy, without much celery root flavor, but did a good job in absorbing the delicious sauce.

Spezzatino of vitellone in bianco with braised artichokes - the veal was good - but the artichokes were phenomenal. I would have eaten a bowl of just the artichokes. Tiny, super nutty and concentrated in flavor, with the creamy veal sauce clinging to them - I scraped the bottom of the bowl looking for errant leaves.

I also had tastes of:
Tortino of spiny lobster and white shrimp - this was good
Warm salad of white fall vegetables with castelmagno cheese - the taste I had was good, but my friend found it a little too salty
Tagliatelle with herbs and fonduta valdostana - almost too unctuous, and maybe not enough different elements to keep an entire dish of it from becoming monotonous
Wild nettle penne with bay scallops - amazingly sweet scallops - the scale of this dish was a little odd, as the penne were pretty big, and the scallops were small, but both components were delicious.

One thing I have to say - I think I can say now, definitively, that I prefer black truffles to white. This was my first time having white truffles and while the aroma was intoxicating - it hits you as you walk up the stairs to the dining room - the unfortunate truth is that those pesky olfactory receptors saturate quickly. Because the entire room is perfumed with white truffle, I found it difficult to distinguish the experience of white truffle on my plate from the white truffle everywhere in the room. (Next time, I'm going to try leaving the room for 30 seconds before I start eating to see if it makes a difference. So I'll look insane. Whatever.) However, the slices of black truffle with dessert were robust and flavorful even after an hour and a half of full-on white truffle saturation.

Anyway, looking forward to hearing about other people's experiences. I'm going back on Friday, and I'm eyeing the duck liver panna cotta and the grilled veal. And I'm getting a pear charlotte and I'm not sharing.