Here’s how Riviera London is celebrating white truffle season
The chefs at Riviera London walk us through their specially curated white truffle menu, and explain how this rare mushroom is sourced
Truffle is one of the most coveted ingredients in modern day cuisine. And cooking with fresh truffles? That is a luxury few can afford. These mushrooms are very seasonal — only available for a few months each year. And out of all the truffles that exist, white truffle is the recognised as the rarest in the world. So with truffle season now in full swing, Riviera, the luxury French restaurant in Mayfair, is celebrating with a few very special dishes that champion this rare mushroom.
Launched on 12 November, Riviera will be offering new spins on their classic dishes using shavings of the special white truffle, adding it to the beef carpaccio with truffle sauce, the steak tartare, the truffle & goat cheese stuffed courgette flower in tempura, the truffle slow-cooked baby chicken, and the truffle and cheese gnocchi.
We tried some of the offerings in the new white truffle menu, and the rich shallot and garlic flavour truly elevates the experience with its intense aroma and deep, earthy flavours. The slow-cooked chicken was an absolute delight, and the shavings of white truffle — combined with the black truffle already sprinkled on the gnocchi — resulted in a wonderful, earthy trip with hints of garlic and pepper that everyone should experience.
We spoke to Alberto and Arian Zandi, the co-founders of Emerald Hospitality Group (Riviera’s parent company) to understand what inspired Riviera’s truffle menu, how they managed to source this rare mushroom and how to incorporate this ingredient into our home cooking.
What inspired the white truffle menu? What is it about white truffle that sets it apart from the black truffle?
The inspiration for our white truffle menu stems from a desire to introduce our guests to the unparalleled sensory experience that only this elusive delicacy can offer. The distinctiveness of white truffle lies in its exquisite aroma, an intense and unique fragrance that sets it apart from the more common black truffle. Its complex flavour profile with notes of garlic, shallots, and earthy undertones lends a luxurious touch to our dishes. We wanted to create a culinary journey that elevates the dining experience, capturing the essence of both the South of France and the exclusivity of this rare ingredient.
Given that the white truffle is so rare, how did Riviera manage to source it, and are there any challenges to it?
Sourcing white truffle is indeed a meticulous endeavour due to its rarity and limited availability. Riviera maintains strong, long standing relationships with trusted suppliers who have direct access to the most renowned truffle regions. Our partnerships with these purveyors allow us to secure this elusive delicacy at the peak of its freshness. The special truffle is sourced from Alba, Piedmont which is renowned for having the white truffle harvest. Challenges arise primarily from the unpredictability of nature and the finite availability of white truffle, which necessitates a swift and precise response to ensure its timely delivery to our kitchen.
For people who haven’t explored using white truffle as an ingredient, what would you recommend they use it in and how?
For those unaccustomed to incorporating white truffle into their culinary creations, I would recommend starting with simple, classic pairings to fully savour its unique essence. Shaving the white truffle over freshly cooked pasta, risotto, or scrambled eggs allows one to experience its full aroma and flavour. Additionally, infusing butter or olive oil with white truffle can effortlessly elevate a range of dishes, from roasted vegetables to meat dishes. The key is to let the truffle’s aroma and taste shine by pairing it with uncomplicated, complementary flavours that allow it to take centre stage in the dish.