Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Truffle Dinner @ St Ali

It's winter black truffle season in the cooler parts of Australia (all very new to me, don't think I have heard about it from Brisbane) and being the self proclaimed foodie, meant going out to try some. 

There are plenty of benefits in using Twitter and one of it was discovering Fringe Food Festival. To sum up in one sentence, the people behind it organises themed one off lunch / dinner events and tickets can be bought online. In this case, a recent Truffle dinner at St Ali caught my eye and at $80 per pax for a 5 course dinner (10-12 grams of truffle per person), it wasn't exactly emptying your wallet expensive. 

As much as I would like to think I know a lot about truffles, I actually don't. Yes, I have eaten some in the past but to be honest, never really got what the fuss was all about. Truffle oil on the other hand has been a must in the pantry for mash and scramble eggs, we loved the pungent earthy aroma when it hits the plate. The idea that night was to see what the difference was. 

Back to the dinner, I guess I will make this short and sweet, after all, it was an one off event and I feel bad that you won't be able to try what we ate that night.


An interesting thing to note, such events are all about communal dining and we ended up in good conversation with half the people on the table as we discovered we were all from Malaysia (and one Singaporean)! Bread was served with olive oil but the lack of plates meant passing the basket around and eating with your hands. 


The menu describes this as "confit egg yolk, savoury granola, celeriac milk and truffle". As explained by the chef, this dish was inspired by the venue, being in St Ali and a breakfast place, he wanted to incorporate a breakfast dish with truffle. While not exactly what I would order on a menu (I have never ordered granola at brunch), it was interesting to try. There was texture from the "granola", creaminess from the egg yolk and the hint of earthy aroma from the truffles. If anything, the truffles smells more fragrant than it tastes on the palate.  A pretty good start. 


Roast Chicken and Chips, Truffled Bread Sauce. Crispy skin chicken thigh and crunchy chips, tied together in this amazing thick sauce with truffle shavings. In this course I learned how the truffle doesn't taste of much on it's own but really shines through when eaten with a conduit; the chips especially. 


"Truffle and Mushroom in its natural surrounds" - Wild Mushroom Risotto, Hazelnut, Chlorophyll was the dish I was waiting for. At first I thought wow, that is alot of truffle shaved all over, only to find out it was an ash created from eggplant being roasted over high heat. The mushrooms were the best I had, apparently freshly picked that day. Although quite heavy, I was happy to finish it all. Once again, the truffle scent is milder than it smells and if there was a lesson to learn, thats how truffles are meant to be, not the pungent (and vile to some) like truffle oil.  


Truffled D'affinois, Celery, Apple, Buerre, Noisette & Rosemary was our cheese course. So where is the truffle this time? Right in the middle of two layers of soft cheese. The only thing I wanted was a little bit more cracker to eat the generous portion of cheese with. 


Nitrogen poached Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Sponge, Carrot and Truffle was the finale of the night and the highlight was freezing the mousse with nitrogen in front of the dining area for the guests to see. Being frozen in such high (negative) temperature, you get a really hard crust but a rather smooth and soft core. The truffles were grated on the sponge and lend that earth aroma to it but was let down because it was too dry. The carrot reduction was probably there to cut through the sweetness but ended up way too sweet. 

Having bought truffle after this dinner and having a go at using it, I think some of the dishes that night were either enhanced with truffle oil or used far superior truffles from the one I got (although pricewise, it's still in the 3 dollar region per gram). A girl from the table mentioned that the truffle dinner at the Sage KL (some time last year) was way better than this (so oh rejoice to those who tried it). 

Either way it was fun to see how truffles tasted and since truffle season is going on for a little longer, I hope to fit in another truffle meal before it ends.  


Michelle Chin said...

You should buy your own truffle. it is way cheaper and you can experiment with it in many ways!

Most truffle oil, unfortunately, is just flavoring. They are not made from the real stuff. My dad deals with people who works in the flavoring industry. Apparently, there is such a thing called chocolate flavoring too! Thus, the strong taste.

Real truffles have a subtle fragrance to them.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

i did! although i wont say it was cheap. we got a small 11gram truffle for 3bucks/gm but i think stretched a little too far, cooking scramble eggs, mashed potato and mushroom soup so it was really subtle but the whiff you get when you open the bottle is priceless, it was so damn good! probably will go back to buy another one but i need a proper truffle cutter

Sean said...

oops, i don't think i've ever tried sage's truffle dinners before. must make a mental note to remember! :D

LisaJ said...

It is cheaper to have your own truffle and besides you can experiment with it in many ways!
The taste of the truffles is memorable and so irresistible.
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Baby Sumo said...

I've tried Australian truffle once and it tastes and smells much more subtle compared to the ones from France. Actually if you watch Sage's kitchen, then you will find that they drizzle truffle oil onto the real truffles before serving.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

babysumo: well the lady at the market who i bought the truffle from told me the french white truffle were selling for 33 bucks a gram! so i sure hope its 11x more fragrant. yeah after cooking with it and having it by itself, yeah theres no doubt u need a little truffle oil to enhance the smell.

lisaj: well dpds on how much you can afford before you can experiment!

sean: well its not winter sage season so im not surprised if sage announces their truffle dinner special soon.

iamthewitch said...

You finally had your truffle meal! I don't know why there's no big fuss about truffle over here in Sydney.. but I think $80 for a meal is still a hefty price to me! May I should just go buy and cook my own truffle meal :P

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

iamthewitch: one day you will get used to treating 80 bucks as RM80 and it will all be good. well just letting you know the truffles we had that night (for 2) was 60 bucks!