It’s Truffle Season, and Canada’s Best Chefs Are All-In
The going retail rate for white Alba truffle: Anywhere from $2,000 to $75,000 per pound. Savouring ice cream made from one of the world’s costliest delicacies: priceless.
The fifth and final course of the limited-time “Truffle Tasting Menu” offered by Toronto’s Lapinou restaurant puts an exclamation mark on what is otherwise a deliciously subtle culinary experience. Topped with sea salt and cradling an ebony rivulet of Villa Manodori balsamic vinegar and Picholine olive oil, the decadent dessert bursts with the earthy muskiness for which the subterranean fungus has long been famous.
Whether because of their strikingly robust flavour or the autumnal timing of the truffle harvest in the leafy forests surrounding their namesake Piedmont town, Alba truffles “have always been an indicator that winter is coming,” says Lapinou executive chef and partner Ben Heaton. “I enjoy treating them very simply by using enhancing ingredients like mushrooms, soy, cheeses, and other umami-laden items. For me, truffles bring a wonderful aroma and sense of celebration to the dining room.”
A year removed from the global truffle shortage of 2021, upscale restaurants across Canada are rejoining this celebration with new fall tasting menus, themed dinners and limited-time dishes that incorporate both white and black truffles in various delectable ways.
Here are seven that stand out.
Should diners wisely opt to include wine pairings curated by sommelier Lauren Hall, the new Tasting Menu offered by this stylish King Street West bistro begins with a palate-cleansing glass of Domaine Chevrot’s “Les Bulles de Paul” 2017 Crémant de Bourgogne. Its gentle effervescence pairs beautifully with a delicate plate of duck carpaccio and a sharable Einkorn wheat crumpet topped with truffle-infused mascarpone. Next comes a glass of Seguin Manuel 2020 Bourgogne Chardonnay, which brightens the accompanying filets of yellowtail amberjack swimming in truffle ponzu and decorated with beech mushroom and shaved sunchoke. A few sips of Domaine de la Grosse Pierre 2018 Chiroubles lends cherry and blackberry notes to the meal before giving way to black truffle shaved into Yukon potato occhi topped with chanterelles and crème fraiche. The earthiness of the next pairing — a Duc des Nauves 2020 Côtes de Bordeaux and a Road Island Red chicken breast dressed in truffle mousseline and jus — paves the way for the aforementioned ice cream, which would risk overpowering diners were it not for the balancing effect of the Silvio Cart 1929 white vermouth finishing the memorable meal.
Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, Calgary
Set in an elegant heritage home in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Bow Valley Ranche is hosting a $125 “Truffle Cork & Cuisine” dinner on Nov. 23. The four courses include sunchoke and celeriac soup with truffle oil, hazelnuts and shaved Alba truffle; bison tartare with crispy shallots, truffle aioli, quail egg yolk and focaccia crisp; beef tenderloin with brussels leaves, Burgundy truffle, charred onion and creamy polenta; and chocolate cake with hazelnut sponge and truffle-infused gelato. Course-by-course wine tastings will be revealed the night of the feast. Outside of this special event, truffle honey accompanies all of BVR’s cheese boards, and the brunch menu’s “Mushroom Toast” can be dipped in truffle-infused hollandaise sauce.
Ask For Luigi, Vancouver
Until Nov. 30, this 27-seat Italian-inspired restaurant on the edge of Railtown is celebrating the ninth anniversary of its opening with a special menu including roasted bone marrow served with black truffles, seasonal mushrooms, and gremolata. The regular brunch and lunch menus, meanwhile, offer slow-cooked prosciutto with truffle, mozzarella and montasio cheese.
LOUIX LOUIS, Toronto
The new fall menus from this dazzling downtown eatery on the 31st floor of the St. Regis hotel positively teem with truffles. A $140 “Royal Brunch” for two, for instance, tops coffee-rubbed filet mignon and scrambled egg with shaved truffle, while a Whole Truffle Chicken, served roasted and fried, drips with truffle jus at dinnertime. Over at the bar, a Dirty Truffle Martini incorporates Cambridge Truffle Gin and a house-made brine of Maldon sea salt, black pepper and rind of parmigiana. Other dishes that put truffles front and centre include lobster risotto, a mushroom velouté, and Wagyu steak raised on Snake River Farm’s Double R Ranch in Washington State.
The bad news for diners without tickets to this upscale Italian eatery’s annual Truffle Dinner is that the Nov. 17 event is sold out. The good news is that truffles are featured extensively across the fall menu, with Burgundy truffle shavings and aioli adorning the beef carpaccio, black truffle salami included in the lavish charcuterie, pappardelle con porcini swathed in truffle cream, and a roasted Rossdown Farm chicken roasted with Burgundy truffle. Likewise, most of the wines paired with the Truffle Dinner, from Villa Sparina’s Blanc de Blancs Brut to Massolino’s Moscato d’Asti, are available to regularly scheduled diners.
Pizza e Pazzi, Toronto
Truffle oils and pastes can take antipasti, pizza, pasta and risotto to the next level, and that’s precisely what this relaxed Neapolitan nook on St. Clair West is doing with its new fall menu. Truffle oil is drizzled over Bresaola antipasto, wild mushroom risotto and pappardelle pasta, and “Tartufata” pizza topped with fior di latte, prosciutto di parma and sautéed mushrooms. A “Sangiovese” pie, meanwhile, blends black truffle paste with fior di latte, arugula, cherry tomatoes and parmigiano.
Villa Eyrie Resort, Malahat, B.C.
A short drive north of Victoria on Vancouver Island’s scenic Saanich Inlet, this boutique resort is offering a “Truffles in the Air” feature menu until Nov. 22. Truffles are shaved onto chestnut cream soup, wild mushroom risotto, creamy linguine, eggs cocotte, short rib cappuccino and beef tenderloin, with the latter dripping in truffle jus and the ribs sided with truffle-potato mash. If that’s not enough truffle for you, the black Burgundy and white Alba varieties can be grated onto dishes for $4 and $8.5 per gram, respectively.
Photo credits to their respective restaurants.