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THE TELEGRAPH – Truffle hunting: the best London restaurants to enjoy white truffles

The legendary French gourmet Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called white truffles “the diamonds of the kitchen”. With 1kg of the famously whiffy tuber costing almost £3,000 in the auctions of northern Italy, white truffle is one of the world’s rarest and most expensive ingredients, sniffed out by dogs from under the roots of trees the location of which the truffle hunter will do everything he can to keep secret. The season runs from the end of October until early January and chefs love the fact that white truffle is one of the few wild and genuinely seasonal ingredients left in their repertoire. Here we’ve sniffed out the best restaurants in London for white truffle this autumn.

45 Jermyn St
“Truffles have a uniquely earthy, nutty taste,” says Lee Streeton, head chef at Fortnum & Mason’s 45 Jermyn St. “The flavour is pungent and rich.” Streeton has bought 5kg of white Alba truffle this season, some of which cost up to £2,950 per kilogram. To get your money’s worth from white truffle, look out for a good depth of smell and flavour, Streeton advises. At 45 Jermyn St, he is serving Champagne truffle risotto, woodland mushroom tortellini and, “for a really indulgent treat”, pan-fried duck egg with foie gras. Somewhat controversially, 45’s sommelier recommends something French, not Italian, as the perfect wine match: a 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin from Domaine Benjamin Leroux in Burgundy. 45 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6DN

Bocca di Lupo
“Truffles are to the earth as oysters are to the sea,” says Bocca’s chef patron Jacob Kenedy. “They capture the very essence of their habitat.” His Soho restaurant operates a BYO policy for truffles: bring your own tuber and for no extra cost, the kitchen will clean it, deliver it to the table and shave it over truffle-friendly dishes (you can buy a truffle at Bocca’s Gelupo gelateria over the road). Buttered wet polenta, buttered egg pasta with poached egg yolks, buttered agnolotti dal plin and cheesy, buttery risotto bianco would be the chef’s favourite matches. And to drink? “A good Barolo or Barbaresco with at least 10 years bottle age on it.” 12 Archer Street, London, W1D 7BB

Canto Corvino
“The flavour of white truffle is actually minimal,” says Tom Salt, executive chef of Canto Corvino in the City. “It is all about the pungent aroma which tricks your mind into thinking it is tasting something it is not.” Salt likes the simplicity of white truffle, an ingredient which, he says, “requires very little chef faffing”. So you’ll find a hand-cut veal crudo garnished with parmesan and shaved truffle, and egg-yolk ravioli with raschera cheese and truffle butter fondue and shaved white truffle, served at Canto Corvino. Salt likes to eat his truffles with a bottle of Nebbiolo. “It’s the perfect foil for truffle, whether it be a simple Nebbiolo d’Alba or a complex single vineyard Barolo from Bussia.” 21 Artillery Lane, London, E1 7HA

Mayfair’s most glamorous Italian may officially have only one truffle dish on the menu, but it’s an absolute corker: the classic combo of homemade tagliolini with truffle oil, truffle butter and parmesan sauce, with truffle shaved on top – so richly hedonistic you won’t need a main course. “But we can do white truffles with quite a few dishes,” says long-serving general manager Giacomo Maccioni, who has worked at Cecconi’s since 1990. ”They are good on fried eggs, beef carpaccio, in a risotto or even on a nice beef fillet. An autumn vegetable salad with raw porcini mushroom and white truffle would not be a bad choice either.” 5a Burlington Gardens, London, W1S 3EP

“Keep it simple” is Caprice Holdings chef director Tim Hughes’s advice when it comes to serving white truffle, and at Daphne’s you’ll find risotto with truffle, tagliatelle with truffle and gnocchi with truffle, all simply priced at £32.50 for a starter and £65 for a main, plus beef carpaccio with truffle for £27.50. “There’s a myth that the best truffles come from Alba in Piedmont, but that’s just because that is where the most famous truffle auction is,” Hughes says. “But you also get superb truffles from Croatia.” Hughes sources Caprice’s truffles from Marche and is supporting the Italian Red Cross to help people afflicted by the Amatrice earthquake which struck the area in August. 112 Draycott Avenue, London, SW3 3AE

Gauthier Soho
“The first time I came across white truffle, I thought there was a gas leak in the kitchen,” says Alexis Gauthier, chef patron of Gauthier Soho. “For the novice nose, what really comes across is the deep gaseous smell, followed by a strong earthy flavour.” Gauthier prefers white truffle paired with brown butter in a Parmigiano risotto, but at his Soho restaurant he serves potage parmentier with liver royale and white truffle, a truffle risotto, and pot-au-feu with walnut and white truffle infusion. To drink, Gauthier suggests a 2011 Côtes du Jura from Domaine Macle, made from 100% oxidised chardonnay. 21 Romilly Street, London, W1D 5AF

“Hints of garlic and a distinct musky smell” is how L’Anima’s head chef Lello Favuzzi describes the taste of white truffle. “I like using it because it’s rare and in a restaurant like ours, it’s important to have the best ingredients.” Favuzzi sources truffles from Umbria for the City Italian and likes to eat white truffle with fresh pasta, risotto and beef, although gnocchi is his favourite combination. Work your way through L’Anima’s dedicated truffle menu, from mashed potatoes with truffle (£16) to veal chop with truffles (£85) via truffle shaved on battuta di Manzo, burrata, tagliolini and risotto, washed down, Favuzzi suggests with a Dolcetto d’Alba.  1 Snowden Street, London, EC2A 2DQ

“White truffle is the most decadent of ingredients,” says Sartoria’s chef patron Francesco Mazzei. “I love it more than caviar and lobster. I don’t know a dish that wouldn’t come to life with a few grams of white truffle shaved on top.” To prove the point, he is currently serving zabaglione with white truffle, basically a copper bowl filled with truffley custard – as amazing as it sounds. More conventionally, there is tagliolini with Grana Padano Riserva, venison carpaccio with chestnuts, watercress and celeriac, and slow-braised cheek with polenta corvino, all served with freshly shaved truffle (note that the truffle menu must be ordered 24 hours in advance). Mazzei has been using the same supplier in Umbria for 20 years. “You should look out for a good-sized truffle, a beautiful 80-150g gem. The quality is far superior and it lasts longer.” 20 Savile Row, London, W1S 3PR

The new Venetian-themed restaurant from Salt Yard Group opens in St James’ Market on 7 November and by the end of the month will be serving fettucine with truffle and porcini butter, T-bone steak with white truffle and truffle pecorino chips, and scallops baked in pastry with white truffle butter and pumpkin. “White truffle is expensive because it has a short season and is notoriously hard to find,” says executive chef Ben Tish. “But I recommend just going for it and having plenty shaved on your dish – it’s a once a year experience.” Truffle should, Tish says, be finely sliced at the last minute on to a hot dish such as pasta with a butter sauce, although he says that firm-fleshed white fish such as halibut and turbot are also a good match. Also a good match at Veneta: a 1997 Bricco Rocche Brunate Barolo, yours for £240. 3 Norris Street, London, SW1Y 4RJ

The St James’s Italian has purchased over £10,000 of white truffle from Piedmont this year and will add it to any dish you fancy. “But connoisseurs recommend shaving white truffle over the simplest of foods, so you receive the benefit of its unique aroma as the truffle makes contact with the hot dish you are to enjoy it with,” says Franco’s director Jason Phillips, who suggests ordering fresh tagliolini or plain risotto. “There are however very few dishes that would not benefit from a few shavings of this iconic fungus,” he adds, so you could try it with lobster linguine or pan-fried scallops. Get white truffles while you can though, Phillips advises. “The quality diminishes dramatically after December.” 61 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX


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