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Gordo and Black Truffles at San Carlo

Gordo tries out the latest special at San Carlo

Written by . Published on September 28th 2011.

Gordo and Black Truffles at San Carlo

One of the perks of Gordo’s job is being asked to taste new dishes around the city. Some are bad, some are OK and some are bloody lovely.

And into the category of 'bloody lovely' is the annual arrival in San Carlo, arguably the best Italian restaurant in the city, of a dish using winter truffles. Franco, the exec chef, finds different ways to serve them every year and the invite from him is one of those that the peeps at Confidential Towers look forward to receiving. Gordo, being a greedy bugger, is always in the front line for them.

Liverpool_Bar01Truffles, for those of us who have never tried them, are like round, solid mushrooms, the size, generally, of a golf ball. They live underground among the roots of trees (usually oak) and are prized for their aroma; they taste of little but have a remarkable ability to perfume a dish. They cost a fortune. Generally speaking, they come from Italy and France, where they are ‘harvested’ by locals using dogs and pigs to sniff ‘em out. Once an area is identified as being truffle-rich, the locals jealously guard it; it has been known for ramblers, stumbling through one of these areas to find themselves being beaten up and sent on their way.

All this because a truffle the size of a golf ball can fetch over a £100 in the food capitals of the world.

The first time Gordo came across truffles was in a Michelin three star restaurant in Joigny, France called La Cote Saint Jacques. The chef, Jean-Michel Lorain, produced a small boiled cabbage for Gordo on one visit in the late eighties; in the middle, it had a whole black truffle. The dish had been steamed in chicken stock and, when the silver dome was raised, the most amazing aroma billowed out across the table.

Gordo then got in the habit of buying two or three truffles from a butchers shop that the Roux brothers owned just off Sloane Square in London, along with a French turkey each Christmas. After three days in a jar with a dozen eggs. Gordo would scramble the eggs on Boxing Day morning; heaven with a bottle of Krug champagne, and with far more class than the footballers' overpriced Cristal. The turkey would have had the sliced truffles stuffed under its skin. The cabbage dish cost £35 back then. It would need to be on at well over £250 today. The turkey, about £125 then, would be £300.

These days, chefs shave the truffles in wafer thin slices to finish off a dish; it works just as well and costs a lot less. If you want to try this experience, you can do so in San Carlo; they have a special on the menu with shaved truffles called Tagliolini Con Carpaccio di Tartufo Nero - Fresh egg tagliolini with smoked pancetta and marinated black truffle at £18.95 which Gordo has lovingly road tested for you, the readers. It’s a belter, try it.

San Carlo, Liverpool,
41 Castle Street,
L2 9SH

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