Circo hosted an engaging Alba truffle dinner prepared by Circo’s executive chef, Alfio Longo. A representative from Ceretto wines was also present with a well-paired wine for each of Chef Alfio’s courses.
The night started with passed canapes in Circo’s front bar area and a glass of Cerretto’s, very drinkable, Arneis Blange – a balanced, fruit forward, but not too sweet, white. Circo’s public relations manager Jean Lee was a gracious host as was Circo’s maitre’d, Bruno – a long time member of the Maccioni family restaurant empire.
The small group of food bloggers and other food industry-types made our way over to the main dining room for dinner. As we waited anxiously for our first course, a basket of white Alba truffles were passed around the table and dazzled us with their intoxicating scent and the sheer size of the truffles themselves.
Dinner began with a decadent frisee salad featuring a quail and foie gras stuffed puff pastry and a rich Perigourdine sauce. The Asij, 2009 wine from Ceretto’s Barbaresco winery in North Western Italy was a fluid, spicy wine which both tamed and complemented the more emerging flavors of the salad.
A second, pasta course was served paying homage to the terrior of North Western Italy – highlighting both the porcini mushroom filling of the ravioli and the white truffles from Alba which were shaved on top. Butternut squash dotted the plate in an elegant, yet attainable dish. Strong tannins in Ceretto’s Bernardot, Barbaresco added to the earthy nature of the dish and was an appreciated nod to the featured ingredients – the Barbaresco winery and Alba just about 5 miles from each other in Italy!
As the small group of us chatted about everything from the world of food marketing to weddings and the New York City public school system; Chef Alfio’s menu continued to delight us. His simple preparations, highlighting the fine ingredients used to assemble each dish were a joy to consume and while a meal rich with white truffle and foie gras could cross the line of pretention rather easily, Chef Alfio’s cooking exudes the humbleness of his own person.
The third course was a melt in your mouth, sous-vide beef cheek with kale and pureed pumpkin topped with a cured ham crisp (which you can also order from Circo’s fall dinner menu, $34). The ruby colored Brunate Barolo, was hard pressed to stand up to the full-flavored beef cheek, but brought with it fine notes of white truffle which complemented the theme of the dinner and was a full, flavorful wine on its own.
‘Molten’ chocolate was poured over a chocolate sphere in an entertaining take on dessert and was a great way to end the meal, especially paired with the Moscato d’Asti, Vinaioli di Santo Stefano. Notes of caramel and apple were perfect for the autumn night and made the coldest night of the year thus far, that much more bearable!