I started the Truffle Festival with a visit to the newly opened eatery Chez Frederic (on the former site of Cafe pronto).
We had been promised a 3 course wine menu and were pleasantly surprised to learn of a 4th entrée – Frederic’s signature home made ravioli.
Initially we were greeted by Frederic (the inspiration for the restaurant) and head chef Villi, who has been a chef at some of Canberra’s top restaurants.
To kick things off, Frederic brought out a whole truffle (the going rate for truffles is currently $2000 per kilo – although you can get them a bit cheaper direct from the farmers). The one in question was from a Braidwood truffle farm. He also shared a number of stories to highlight that the Truffle was not as popular back in the day and at one time was sanctioned demonic by the Roman Catholic Church. Who would have thought something so feared would turn into such a wonderful delicacy?
The truffle was passed around for an opportunity to smell it. I found it to exude a scent reminiscent of undergrowth, strawberries, wet earth or dried fruit with a hint of cocoa – not unpleasant.
We were then offered to taste the truffle. This was interesting. I have had truffle before but always with other ingredients. Eating it raw was odd. It took 10 sec for the flavour to kick in, similar to that of a mushroom, without the tang.
Our 1st course arrived – Truffle crepe’s filled with ricotta, peppered soft cheese and truffle infused lentils matched with a glass of 900 grapes 2011 Merlot. It was soft, fluffy and full of flavor and the wine worked a treat in connecting the the dots.
The Second course was Frederic’s speciality – Duck Ravioli and baby spinach, served in a duck truffle jus. This was matched with a lighter and fruiter Two churches Barossa shiraz. Although it was fresh, it was nothing outstanding and the duck was difficult to taste.
The main act was next – Veal Bosciala with potato smash and sautéed vegetables. This was matched with a few glasses of the bold and heavy Penfolds bin 28 Kalima Shiraz 2011. This was enjoyable although not what I was expecting. The veal was tender and the potato mash delicious. I was surprised that Frederic didn’t take the same approach as fellow French chef Manu and work with ‘plenty of sauce’. This was a shame as it was needed.
The show stopper was the Vanilla Bean Panacotta, Salted Caramel Mousse Profiteroles and Truffle Anglaise, all matched with a nice desert wine. After a few Bin 28s, I forgot to record the name, but it was a sweet dessert wine. I would have to say they were the best Proffiterolls I have had and the remaining desserts all mixed and matched well.
This was a good effort from this new player, with all dishes showcasing the truffle well. Truffle evenings like these with wine matching are offered at Chez Frederic throughout the festival for lunch or dinner every Friday and Saturday.