Silver Oak Vineyard, Napa CA
As part of the Napa Truffle Festival grand package, lunch was included after a morning of truffle-related seminars on gastronomy and science. We took a chartered bus together to Silver Oak, where wine tasting and a truffle lunch awaited us.
Chef Dominic Orsini first demonstrated a flat bread wood-fired pizza, with sheep’s milk ricotta, chives, parsley, fennel, and garnished with freshly shaved black truffles. A few of the flat breads were overdone, but once we got a slice that wasn’t, it was divine. This morning we learned that white truffles have a strong flavor, therefore black truffles are better paired with other strong tastes (like the sheep’s milk ricotta), so it was nice going into the lunch with a better understanding of the different dynamics.
After the wine tasting and appetizer, we were treated to a tour of the vineyard before settling down for lunch. There were four wine glasses at each table setting, as we were given a different red for each course. The first course served once we sat was black truffle and chicory salad, with a local trinity of foraged mushrooms, quail egg croquette, and crispy fingerling potatoes. The chicory greens were very crisp with a nice mild tart flavor. The fingerling potatoes were tender and crispy with a strong essence of truffle. The mix of wild mushrooms was not overdone nor underdone, and no single mushroom overpowered another. The crispy quail egg croquette had a solid white while the yolk blended well with the lemony vinaigrette.
Next was Iberico pork and truffles with the pork done two ways: barrel stave grilled loins with Brussels sprouts, and comfit of shoulder over soft polenta. The loin was tender and juicy, however the shredded pork, although nutty and buttery in flavor, was a teensy bit dry. The rich polenta was cheesy and smooth in texture, and the truffles were a nice touch for not being overpowering, but we just wish there was more polenta. The Brussels sprouts were well done with the standard bittersweet aftertaste; regardless, all the elements blended together harmoniously.
The third course – dessert essentially – was a trio of cheeses with persimmon membrillo, dried pair, dried apricot, almonds tossed in olive oil. The cheeseas were truffle tremor (goat’s milk), perlagrigia (cow’s milk), and black truffle pecorino (sheep’s milk). August felt like she was on her first visit to Spain: the sensory memory of the strong cheese and membrillo brought her back to when she was 11 years old. The goat’s milk cheese was very soft, smooth, and creamy, with a medium truffle taste and mild goat flavor; the cow’s milk cheese was semi-soft with mild truffle taste and a nice texture; and the sheep’s milk cheese was firm yet crumbly with a very strong truffly-nutty-salty taste. The desserts were an assortment of chocolates with coffee and tea as per the menu – coffee and tea were not brought out, but that’s alright anyway since they kept our wine classes full throughout the lunch.