Truffle Dinner in Sarlat

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Stuart and I recently attended a dinner based on truffles, the famous black mushroom of the Perigord, at the École Hotelière, Lycée Pré de Cordy in Sarlat. Being at the hotel school, we were served by final year students and the entire meal was cooked by final year students as well (obviously with supervision from teachers as they are only 17 and 18 years old). The invitation was for only 35 people and the evening was Euro 50 per person, including an aperitif, wine pairings with dinner and a eau de vie de noix (walnut eau de vie) with coffee. You cannot beat that anywhere, that’s for sure. Now, you might be thinking, well, only Euro 50 including all that alcohol, the meal cannot possibly be good. But, you would be very wrong indeed. The food was excellent, worthy of a very fine dining restaurant. A similar meal, especially seeing as it included truffles, would put you back at least 4 to 5 times the price we paid. The price this week for truffles is Euro 850 per kilo! We were incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to attend this superb evening thanks to our good friends, Michel and Carole, as he grows truffles on his land and is part of the truffle cultivators of the Perigord association.

The evening started with a cooking demonstration by one of the chefs then we were offered an aperitif and the meal began. Amuse-bouche of chestnut cappuccino with truffle shavings and assorted breads, including obviously a truffle bread roll and bread sticks served with truffle butter. I was so hungry by the time this arrived that I only realised once I had finished the last mouthful that I had not taken any photos. Oh well, you can imagine it, I am sure. It was actually very similar to my post from a few weeks back, the chestnut and foie gras cappuccino, but included truffles instead of foie gras.  Chestnut and foie gras “cappuccino”

Luckily, I took photos of all the other dishes to share with you, except the cheese course, I forgot those as well! Every single course was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. It is hard to pick my favourite but I think I would go for the tongue and foie gras starter, Langue Lucullus. It simply melted in your mouth and the textures and flavours were perfect in every way.

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Entrée: Langue LUCULLUS truffée, coulis de panais et truffe noire

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Purée de panais (parsnip)

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Poisson: Le sandre sous la truffe (pike fish)

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Viande: Le véritable Tournedos Rossini d’aprés Auguste Escoffier (beef fillet with foie gras)

Fromage: Le camembert au lait cru farci d’une crème truffée – no picture

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Dessert: Les crêpes soufflées à la truffe, sauce chocolat blanc Mélano

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Panna Cotta with passion-fruit

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Panna cotta is a classic crowd-pleaser. A good panna cotta that has the perfect wobble can be absolute perfection after a big meal. They are elegant and can be made head of time so you have a stress free dinner. What more could you ask for in a dessert?

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 300ml / 1 1/4 cups thick cream
  • 130g / 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 300ml / 1 1/4 cups thick Greek yogurt
  • 200ml / 7 oz passion-fruit juice, strained

Preparation:

Place cream, 1/2 cup (110g) of the sugar, and the vanilla pod and seeds in a pan
Cook, stirring, over low heat until sugar dissolves
Place 1/2 cup of the mixture in a small bowl, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of the gelatin on top, and place in a pan of simmering water
Stir until gelatin dissolves
Add back to the cream mixture
Cool slightly, whisk in yogurt, then strain
Pour into 4 glass tumblers, leaving space at the top, and refrigerate for 2 hours
Place the passion-fruit juice and the remaining sugar in a saucepan, and sprinkle the remaining gelatin on top
Heat over low heat, gently whisking until the gelatin dissolves
Cool, then strain over top of the panna cotta
Refrigerate for a further 2 hours until set
Enjoy!

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Lotte à l’américaine / monkfish with américaine sauce

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img_8992img_8993Sauce américaine is a recipe from classic French cookery containing chopped onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, salt, cayenne pepper, butter and fish stock and is often served with fish or lobster. It is sometimes known as sauce armoricaine, which is the original name, derived from Armorica, the ancient name for a region of France including Brittany, which is known for its fishing.

Monkfish is known for its huge head and mouth, and its tight, meaty white flesh that is often compared to lobster meat. It’s commonly used in French cuisine, but it has only recently become popular in the US. Only the monkfish tail is edible, and it’s sold whole or filleted. Any gray or tan membranes should be removed before cooking. The flesh is bright white, lean and mild-tasting. This versatile fish can be prepared using almost any cooking method, and it can be served in soups and stews. Its lean flesh tends to dry out if overcooked. Monkfish has a unique flavor and texture, but you can substitute snapper, sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi or sea scallops.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

800g / 2 lbs monkfish
2 tablespoons tomato concentrate
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
250 ml / 1 cup dry white wine
60g / 4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cognac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Cut the monkfish into cubes
Heat 30g / 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat and brown the fish for about 5 minutes, set aside
Rince out the pan and heat the oil
Cook the onion and garlic until soft
Add the monkfish and the cognac
Flambé
Pour in the white wine
Add the tomato paste, salt and black pepper
Stir, cover and allow to cook on a low simmer for about 30 minutes
Remove the fish and set aside
Add the rest of the butter to the sauce and sprinkle on the flour to thicken the sauce
Whisk and allow to reduce on medium heat
Place the fish on your warm plates and cover with the sauce
Enjoy!