Last night I enjoyed an amazing white truffle dinner at Tosca. It was primarily held to highlight some great Italian wines (plus a Champagne). The dinner was not as over-the-top as the five-hour fourteen-course Lab blowout. But the food was just as memorable.
The night started with passed hors d'oeuvres and free flowing 1990 Charbaut Tete de Cuvee Champagne. The first bit of food to come around was a truffled veal tartare crostini. It was chopped veal, cracked black pepper, with white truffle oil and topped with shaving of white truffle. This was quite a way to start the evening. It was complex and very aromatic. The next morsel to come by was a fried truffled salted cod fritters. These were quite good, light and airy, and packed with cod flavor. These were also topped with white truffle shavings. The final treat to come by was fontina and sweet onion flan. I would call this custard rather than a flan, but amazing none the less. It was served in ceramic soupspoons, and again topped with shaved white truffles. The flan was a delightful mix of sweet onion, and a hint of cheese for body. The custard portion was perfectly prepared to be creamy, with no graininess. The Charbaut Tete Cuvee is wonderful champagne; it has a medium straw color, and a slight honeyed flavor, but not too much so.
The first course that we were served at the table was the classic scrambled eggs with truffles. Toscas version consisted of creamy scrambled eggs, layered into the shell with a castelmagno cheese fonduta, and then topped with crispy prosciutto and of course shaved white truffle on top. This was as good as Donnas version of this classic preparation. I could eat this for breakfast every morning for the rest of my life and never get sick of it, with or without the truffle. The wine was a 97 Rubino della Palazzola Super Tuscan blend of Merlot and Cabernet. It was a lively wine with a fruity nose and cherry palate. It was a very nice match for the eggs.
The second course was a chestnut soup with porcini mushrooms and roasted foie gras. This was a nice soup, creamy, and rich, the bowl also contained whole chestnuts, and was topped with generous amounts of white truffles that were shaved right at the table by Cesare, the chef. This was a good soup, but it needed a little sweetness to make it a great soup. All of the other elements were perfect; it just needed that little push to take it over the edge. It was wine for this was the 97 Luce. On its own this wine was weak and very uninspiring, as most Mondavi wines have unfortunately become, however, with the soup it came to life and showed itself to be a very nice wine.
The chef left the room after blanketing everyones soup with truffles by saying, I am off to make the risotto, and so he was. When he returned it was with dishes of perfectly cooked Alba truffle risotto. The rice was tender, but not overly so, and had a creamy body, and a scattering of walnuts. Again the chef, this time joined by his partner Paolo covered by generous amounts of white truffles shaved tableside. The only issue I have with this dish is that I cannot eat it every night. It was so creamy, and rich, but not overpoweringly so. This course was served with two great wines, the 97 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino and the 97 Banfi Poggio alle Murra. Both wines need four or five more years until they are ready, but they were both quite good, and were stark contrasts to one another. The La Poderina was a fruity wine, with lots of currants and cherry flavors. It has a smooth body, but you can tell that there is more to come. The Banfi was earthy on the nose and a little austere on its own, but opened-up delightfully so with the risotto. Parker wrote, this wine lacks heart and soul, and on its own, I would agree with him, too bad he did not have it with Cesares risotto.
The meat course was roasted Waygu beef with cardoons stew, truffled potato and Barolo sauce. Too bad I was so full by this point. The beef was perfectly seared on the outside and delightfully rare, but not raw on the inside. The pieces were sliced thin, and fanned above a dab of flavorful potato puree seasoned with truffle oil. One of the reasons that I so looked forward to this dish was to finally get a chance to try cardoons. I have never found them anywhere else, and I was not disappointed. Cardoons are a close relative of the artichoke, and they tasted like it, but they also had a hint of Vidalia onion flavor. I will look forward to eating them again in the future. Like the previous dishes this was covered with generous shavings of white truffles done tableside. Two wines were served with this dish. The first wine was an earthy 97 Parusso Mariondino Barolo that also had a nice balanced structure and spice, black cherry and smoke. This wine needs another five to seven years before it is ready. The other wine was the 97 Corino Barolo Vigneto Rocche. It was an extracted fruity wine, which matched perfectly with the beef and the truffles.
The final course was a cheese plate. It was head and shoulders above wheat we had gotten at the Lab blowout. It contained four pieces of cheese, some greens and bits of fruit preserved in syrup. The offerings were a fresh fig stuffed with Gorgonzola and roasted and then topped with aged Balsamico, a piece of Parmesan topped drizzled with truffle honey, an earthy washed rind cheese, and a soft cheese. Sorry, I did not get the names of the last two cheeses, I wish I had, they were marvelous. We enjoyed a glass of 99 Allegrini Amorone with this course. The wine shows signs that it is going to be heaven in a bottle, but it still has many years to go until it is ready, and will be well deserving of the 95 points that Parker has bestowed upon it.
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