Monday, December 9, 2013

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne's White Truffle Dinner

October welcomes a series of holidays such as Columbus Day, National Nut Day and of course, Halloween. But in Alba, specifically, in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, it marks the peak of truffle season; a gastronome's coveted time to explore and savor the rare White Truffle Mushroom, also known as the "Diamonds of the Kitchen". These luxurious delicacies are growing more and more exclusive every year, only available for a couple months, and appealing through their distinctive taste to even the most discriminating palate.

The White Truffle - Diamonds of the Kitchen

On November 13th, the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne held its annual White Truffle Dinner, showcasing a six-course pairing menu which highlighted the best the region has to offer. Sommelier Jorge Mendoza and Executive Chef Clayton van Hooijdonk, took guests on a culinary extravaganza featuring a specially selected number of vintages from the private library of Batasolio SpA winery. Special guest Fiorenzo Dogliani of the winery brought with him a selection of white truffles freshly gathered from his region, along with vertical vintage wines from past decades of the Crus of Barolo, home to the highest quality and most prestigious vineyards.

From Left: Fiorenzo Dogliani, Batasolio SpA and Sommelier Jorge Mendoza
Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne

Only sixty guests enjoyed this magical evening, which began with a welcome reception by Dogliani and an explanation of the wines to be served. The six courses that followed each featured the unique aroma and earthy flavor of shaved white truffles on exquisite dishes prepared by Chef van Hooijdonk and his team.

Uova Strapazzate Con Fegato Grasso

The first course was the Uova Strapazzate Con Fegato Grasso, consisting of an organic egg scramble, with mascarpone goose liver "tramezzini" and shaved white truffles. It was perfectly paired with a deep ruby red Barbera D'Alba DOC, "Sovrana", Batasiolo, 2010. I completely enjoyed the sweetness of the goose liver with the salty eggs, while the truffle added depth of texture to the dish.

Tartara Manzo

The Tartara Manzo was the delectable second course, a fresh sampling of fassone beef tartar seasoned with a variety of condiments and sprinkled with shaved white truffle. The well-balanced acidity and clean smooth finish of the Barbaresco DOCG, Beni Di Batasiolo, 2009 pairing brought out the lean yet delicious flavors of the meat and allowed it to linger on the palate.

Tajarin Al Tuorlo D'uovo

The third course was simply divine. Tajarin Al Tuorlo D'uovo, a traditional Taglierini pasta from the Piedmont region, made with egg dough, looked more like an appetizing pile of velvety ribbons on our plates. The rich texture and taste was accentuated by the shaved white truffle that made its presence in each bite. The pairing chosen for this course was a Barolo DOCG, Beni Di Batasiolo, 2009, which had a soft delicate flavor and marked tannin content.

Risotto Al Tartufo

The anticipation for the next course grew by the minute. It was a Risotto Al Tartufo, prepared with Merlano Riseria, a dense La Tur, and of course, topped with shaved white truffles. It was served with a full bodied Barolo DOCG, "Cerequio, Beni Di Batasiolo, 2004. The risotto was tender and creamy, and tantalized every taste bud with its delicate blend of flavors.

Duetto Di Vitello Brasato

The fifth course came with a special bonus. Instead of one wine pairing, it actually came with two. We were served a Duetto Di Vitello Brasato, or a slow braised veal shank agnolotti filled with braished shank and crowned with white truffles. It was a parade of intense decadence. The first wine pairing was a Barolo DOCG, "Corda Della Briccolina", Beni di Batasiolo, 2001, and the second pairing was a Barolo DOCG, "Corda Della Briccolina" Beni di Batasiolo, 1996. Two different years, two different experiences.

Dolce - Coeur de Guanaja

Unbelievable Decadence
No one can eat just one
And then came dessert, an Italian festival of sweets. Starting with the Couer de Guanaja, created with noisette butter, sauteed asian pear, alba white truffle and caramel. Aromatic and refreshing, it was served with Moscato D'Asti DOCG, "Bosc Dla Rei", Batasiolo, 2012. It didn't stop there. Two more sweet finales were served, including some memorable macaroons and chocolates filled with white truffle.

The Annual White Truffle Dinner at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne is an event not to be missed and one that left a lasting impression for me. I personally am very excited to add the Piedmont Region to my future Italian travels, in order to get an up close and personal tasting of all the wonders this remarkable area holds. For more information on other events taking place at the Ritz Carlton, visit their website at

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