Before I tell you how I spent my Friday lunchtime, I feel the need to tell you that once I rolled back from lunch I found out the keynote for my event next week had pulled out. I tell you this, because the special guest star at the preview lunch I went to was a £2,000 white truffle and we were going to be some of the first to eat it. But as with most things, there needs to be a balance in life. Just, you know, not at lunchtime.
Thanks to celebrity chef and executive consultant chef for the San Carlo group Aldo Zilli, who personally selected one of the world’s most expensive ingredients from his home town in Italy, this Temple St restaurant now has a rare white winter truffle and it’s on the menu or the next two weeks, or until it runs out. Yep, that kind of rare.
A group of us were invited down to check out some tasters from the exclusive menu at San Carlo. It’s been a while since I’ve been to San Carlo, although not too long since I was at its sister venue, Fumo, round the corner. In fact, last time I remember going my friend Fran had great fun translating some of the overheard Italian, which made for a great lunch. And whilst that was a while ago, it was nice to see that San Carlo’s reputation for original and signature Italian dishes remains strong, as it was pleasantly busy whilst we were there.
Anyway, back to the truffle, which is a rare treat to have in the city, particularly of such size. This white winter truffle was found in the national park of the Abruzzo region, by specially trained dogs – and not pigs, as I thought. Prized for their aromatic qualities and taste, they grow in the soil under trees and can only be harvested for around two months of the year. So, you know, when they find one, and one that costs around £2000, you can see why it’s a cause for celebration.
And to celebrate the arrival, San Carlo have created a special menu of five dishes; Steak tartare with egg and truffle shavings, lobster and truffle risotto, Tagliolini pasta with truffle butter and shavings of fresh truffle, Carpaccio and burrata with shavings of truffle and turbot with a truffle and Prosecco cream sauce.
I enjoyed getting to taste each of the dishes; despite all having the same start ingredient all felt like they brought something different to the palette. Personally, my favourite was the tagliolini pasta with truffle butter and shavings of fresh truffle because it was so simple, but executed so well; the buttery oil slick over perfectly cooked, al dente pasta with a hint of the garlicky musk from the truffle. I also enjoyed the lobster and truffle risotto, and I know it’s pretty much heresy to admit, but I’m not usually that fussed by lobster (too fiddly).
Five courses of white truffle might well be a bit overkill for most, but it’s definitely worth checking out a dish (or two, if you can convince a dining partner to order from the menu too). But you’ll have to be quick, as the menu will only be around for as long as the truffle is. It’s expected to be around for two weeks, but booking is highly recommended by the restaurant – call San Carlo on 0121 633 0251 or email email@example.com
Disclosure: Obvs I was invited to a press lunch, which means they sort of hope you’ll write something, but I never agreed to be positive unless I meant it. And so lunch was complimentary. Or I ran away without paying, who knows.