A truffle delight

A much anticipated white truffle dinner,
the second of its kind, was held last month at the Cracked Conch in West Bay.More than 80 diners indulged in the annual
sumptuous seven-course truffle dinner which featured wines from Beni Di
Batasiolo in Piedmont in northern Italy.

Executive chef Gilbert Cavallaro built each
course around the expensive and rare white truffles, flown in fresh from Italy.

The restaurant had been in talks with the
organisers, Blackbeard’s, for nearly eight months to arrange the dinner and the
first tastings and pairings of the wines began back in July with Jodie Petts
from Blackbeard’s working with Chef Gilbert, sous chef Joshua Hull and Cracked
Conch general manager Matthew Moore to create the decadent dinner at the
seafront restaurant on Thursday evening, 28 October.

“It is very important for us to get the
pairings correct, but to also be inventive with the truffle dishes, without
losing some of the tradition. Gilbert has done a fantastic job this year and I
am very excited about tonight’s dinner,” said Ms Petts as she and the rest of
the guests prepared to partake in what was, quite literally, a feast.

Before the meal, as guests mingled over
drinks, they enjoyed foie gras crostini with lemon confit and, of course, white
truffle. This was accompanied by a welcoming glass of sparkling Batasiolo
Metodo Classico, Brut Millesime, 2005.

After a speech by Beni Di Batasiolo owner
and truffle farmer Fiorenzo Dogliani, who explained the origins of the wines
and the truffles, diners tucked into seared scallops with shaved white truffle
and a pumpkin puree. After all, Halloween was just a few days away! This was served
with a Batasiolo Gavi di Granee DOCG, 2009.

Next came a tasty tuna tartar in white
truffle broth, accompanied by a Batasiolo Barbaresco DOCG, 2006, made from the
famed Nebbiolo grape.

For the next course, the duck confit with
fresh papardelle pasta, white truffle and Parmesan cheese went wonderfully with
a Batasiolo Barolo Cerequio Vineyard, 2005.

This was followed by a tender rack of lamb
with bean ragout, white truffle and coffee, accompanied by a Barolo DOCG
Riserva, 2004.

Just when we thought we could not eat
another bite, out came the next irrestable dish – grilled strip loin with
shaved white truffle, seared foie gras, short rib ravioli and wild mushrooms,
served with a velvety Batasiolo Barolo Briccolina, 2004.

And then the dessert – that, in reality,
was three desserts – arrived, and only those with the strongest resolve could
resist the chocolate, praline and white truffle mousse; mango and white truffle
ice cream; and key lime and white truffle smoothie, each of which had been
flavoured with white truffle. They were accompanied by a sweet Batasiolo
Moscato Passito, Muscatel Tardi DOC, 2006.

Truffle
history

Truffles have been enjoyed by the fortunate
few for almost 3,000 years. The ancient Sumerians, Greeks and Romans knew of
this culinary treasure and Pope Gregory IV boosted his mettle with a meal of
truffles before battling the Saracens. In the Middle Ages, the truffle, or
tartufo as it is called in Italy, was known as witches’ fare. At the royal
court of Turin in the 1700s, truffle hunts were organised to honour visiting
dignitaries. Lord Byron kept the precious fungus on his desk to stimulate the
imagination.

In the ancient Italian towns of Alba and
the truffle-producing region of Piedmont, many local organisations proudly
safeguard the quality and traditional lore of the truffle. The traveller lucky
or wise enough to visit in season has many chances to taste tartufo at the
source and enjoy the pageantry of the local truffle festivals.

Truffle
and wine

Wines of the region are among some of the best
in Italy. Affectionately known as the King and Queen of wine, the Barolo and
Barbaresco are wonderful examples of the terroir (land) and the traditional
elegance of the Piedmont area.

The original Chiola Winery was founded in
the ‘50s by the Batasiolo family. It consisted of seven “beni” farmhouses
within a vineyard. Mama and Papa and their eight children worked in the
vineyards. The Dogliani brothers bought the vineyard and winery in 1978, adding
two more “beni” to the property and renaming the winery in honour of the
family.

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Beni Di Batasiolo owner Fiorenzo Dogliani shaves fresh white truffle onto diners’ plates at a dinner at the Cracked Conch.
Norma Conolly

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