Notturno (280 Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC, 604-720-3145) is a small Gastown restaurant, focused on a constantly evolving selection of share plates and craft cocktails. I’ve dined there recently during a regular service and was very pleased by the delicious food and the outstanding cocktail program. The Notturno team is doing some fantastic work out of their cozy Gastown space, but last week, I enjoyed an exceptional meal there that I won’t soon forget.I’m a sucker for white truffles and every fall, I crave and indulge on Alba’s aromatic gems. I just love truffles; I feel intoxicated when I’m around a plethora of truffles, I adore the way their musky aroma perfumes a room, I am intrigued by the unique shape of each individual truffle, I’m fascinated by the sometimes nefarious dealings of the truffle underworld, I bask in the pure luxury of this rare fungus and ever since my early years in professional kitchens, I’ve been a complete truffle addict. I was fortunate to be one of the ten diners at the Monday evening edition of Notturno’s White Truffle dinner. Ten thoughtful white truffle inspired courses prepared by Chef Bill Robitaille paired with ten unique and spectacular wines, selected by Ben DeChamplain. It was definitely an indulgent meal to remember.
Notturno’s White Truffle Dinner Menu
Local sea urchin, cured lardo with truffled Italian dwarf peach crostini
Rinaldini ‘Rinaldo Brut’ Chardonay, 2009 – Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Soft scrambled eggs and chives with sous vide egg yolk and warm croissant foam
Aurora ‘Fiobbo’ Pecorino, 2012 – Marche, Italy
Zuppa di Yolanda, Parmigiano Reggiano, bread crumbs, eggs, nutmeg and butter dumplings in a rich chicken brodo
Domaine Leflaive, Chevalier-Montrachet, 2007 – Burgundy, France
Saffron tagliatelle of chicken consommé, Alfredo sauce
R. Lopez Heredia, ‘Viña Gravonia’ Viura, 2004 – Rioja, Spain
Beef tartar, shallots, cured lemon, Castelvetrano olives, beetroot liquid gel
Clos de la Roilette, ‘Griffe du Marquis’ 2012 – Burgundy, France
Popcorn polenta, butter broth, touch of cream and brown butter
Mascarello, ‘Scudetto’ Barbera D’Alba, 2005 – Piedmont, Italy
Cilento Burrata from Puglia, Serego Alighieri extra virgin olive oil, Maldon salt and cracked pepper
Cordero Di Montezemolo, ‘Enrico VI’, Barolo, 2006 – Piedmont, Italy
Whole grain farro, shallots, veal brodo, Parmigiano Reggiano and bone marrow risotto
Domenico Clerico, ‘Pajana’ Barolo, 2007 – Piedmont, Italy
Espresso bean butter sous vide steak, creamed leeks
Quintarelli, Valpolicella Classico, 2003 – Veneto, Italy
Cauliflower Panna Cotta and black pepper gelée
House truffle-infused Barolo Chinato – Piedmont, Italy
With the ten guests seated around the bar, the meal began with the roar of a Searzall and a crostini of local sea urchin, lardo and slices of truffled dwarf peaches. Paired with the Rinaldini Chardonnay Methode Champnoise, it was a perfect way to start the decadent meal. Unlike most wine dinners I attend, this was an intimate affair with casual and comfortable interaction between the guests, the chef and sommelier.
Every course was tasty, well executed and generously adorned with white truffles. Chef Robitaille sourced the finest ingredients and put his personal spin on to classic truffle paired concepts. The work and the thought process was evident, which resulted in delicious, attentive plates. Every wine pairing had merit and though some worked better than others, you could taste the effort DeChamplain spent sourcing these interesting wines. Food highlights of the meal were the courses featuring egg, popcorn polenta and burrata. I’m very fond of restraint and simplicity when it comes to showcasing trifola d’Alba and Robitaille’s best courses took a deft and mature approach. Wine highlights were the Domaine LeFlavie Chevalier Montrachet, the Cordero Di Montezemolo Barolo, the Quintarelli Valpolicella and truffle infused Chinato. DeChamplain reminded me how much I love white Burgundy and I was completely enthralled with the story behind “Horsey Beaujolais.” The most challenging part of the meal was the final course; Robitaille took a gamble on a savoury finish and though the course itself was tasty, I’m rather traditional and enjoy the comfort and satisfaction of a “dolce” to end the meal.
The food, the wine, the service, the company and the ambiance were fantastic and it was one of those dinners which ended up being a whole lot of fun. I almost forgot to mention, Chef Robitaille sent every guest home with a jar of carnaroli rice and a small white truffle; talk about the best parting gift ever. Thank you to Bill, Ben and the entire Notturno team for a truly memorable truffle dinner. Next time you’re in Gastown, check Notturno out and keep your ears peeled for upcoming special dinners.