A dazzling truffle dinner with Christian Etienne

Christian Etienne, celebrated Michelin-starred chef and global ambassador for the best of Provençal cuisine, delighted Topaz diners on Thursday June 23rd.

Christian Etienne, celebrated Michelin-starred chef and global ambassador for the best of Provençal cuisine, delighted Topaz diners on Thursday June 23rd with a sumptuous dinner rooted in one of the region’s most famous delicacies, the truffle. “Le Pape des Truffes” (the Pope of Truffles) created an elegant seven-course meal that revelled in the complexities and versatility of the so-called “black diamond”.

Truffles are considered a gastronomic jewel, a precious element that lifts a dish to a whole new class, making it sparkle. Like jewels they start their life in the ground, and also like jewels, they’re very expensive — the second most expensive thing you can eat. In 2014, the auction house Sotheby’s in New York sold a white truffle weighing less than 2kg to a bidder in China for $61,250 — more than the price of gold — and it was still considered a bargain. Some expected it to sell for as much as $1 million.

Most truffles don’t cost quite that much, or come in such bulk. Instead, this exquisite flavour can be found at many stores at a more reasonable average of between $1,000 and $2,0000 per kilo, and in many forms such as truffle oils, butters, vinegars, sauces, mustard and more, all the better to add depth, flavour and sophistication to a huge range of dishes.

Mr Etienne’s carefully-crafted menu didn’t stint however, and allowed diners to explore the multi-faceted truffle using both the nutty white (tuber aestivum, summer) truffle and its more subtle black (tuber melanosporum, winter) varieties. From the opening dish of a smooth oyster velouté carpaccio, to the melting flavours of a duo of beef cheek and chuck, cooked for 24 hours (not 12) and served with black truffle pureed potatoes, a glorious truffled Brie de Meaux, and more besides, diners were able to appreciate this strange fungus’s power to elevate and make any occasion precious.

The truffles came from Truffières de Rabasse, Mr Etienne’s own supplier. We wish him every happiness in his recent retirement.

The Menu:

CAPPUCCINO D’HUÎTRES
Oyster velouté Cappuccino
Sancerre L’Ancienne Vigne, Loire, France 2013

SAINT-JACQUES MEUNIÈRE
Scallops à la Meunière with black truffles and fried leeks
Sancerre L’Ancienne Vigne, Loire, France 2013

LA SOLE
Filet of sole paupiette with a quenelle of truffled duxelle
Trimbach Riesling, Alsace, France 2012

DUO DE BOEUF
12 hours slow-cooked beef cheeks and chuck with black truffle crushed potatoes
Château d’Aiguilhe Querre, Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon, France 2009

ROCHER
Wine truffle sorbet to reawaken the palate

FROMAGE
Truffled Brie de Meaux
Château Fieuzal L’Abeille de Fieuzal, Pessac-Leognan, France 2009

DESSERT
Chocolate truffle mousse with port wine insert and salty caramel truffle quenelle
Quinta Do Noval Porto Noval Black, Portugal

Browse the whole photo album of this spectacular dinner here.