Truffle Report #5: It’s HUGE

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Here it is, our 604 gram truffle. Found in the south of Tuscany, near Chiusi.

This truffle had been missed by two hunters earlier, but then found by a dog named Jeny. And, to my great honor, Jeny is the daughter of a truffle dog named Bob. And Bob was named after me 12 years ago. He is the 6 week old puppy in my pocket in this video of Giorgio.

It took over an hour for the truffle hunter to dig this truffle out.

November 13th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

2010 Truffle Menu Finalized

kid truffles

Oliveto Truffle Dinners 2010
November 17 – 20

Antipasti and Salads

Polenta crostini with duck livers, wild snails, and chanterelle mushrooms

Chilled salad of smoked wild sturgeon, Mediterranean mussels, root vegetables, and black truffles

Poached salted farm egg with cardoons, celery, shaved porcini mushrooms, and fonduta Valdostana

Violino di Chiavenna e salsiccia Vicentina cruda: prosciutto of Watson Farm lamb seasoned with juniper & red wine with fresh spiced sausage, truffle and mortadella grissini, and wild mushroom & goat cheese crostino

Spinach and Leek sformatino with scimudin cheese and chives

Carpaccio of Piemontese tenderloin and Geoduck clam with black caviar and black truffle gelée

Roast Paine Farm pigeon stuffed with black truffles, dried Knoll Farm figs, & pistachios

Salad of poached Riverdog Farm hen with truffled tonnato

Truffled salad of roasted beets, avocado, and roasted peppers

Fettunta of truffled tomino Piemontese fresca cheese and your choice of olio nuovo: Nocellino (Sicily), Gerbino (Sicily)

Puntarelle with anchovy, lemon, and parmesan

Garden Lettuces with mushroom vinaigrette


Primi piatti

Vellutata of Savoy cabbage and vin santo with lobster flan

Cannelloni of Magruder Ranch vitello, green garlic, and Fontina Val d’ Aosta

Spaghetti with black truffles, anchovy, and walnuts

Pennette with Bay scallops and butternut squash vellutata

Chicche alla Marco Forneris with brown butter Parmesan cream and sage

Agnolotti dal plin with fonduta Valdostana

Whole-milled Durum pappardelle with braised leeks, celery root crema, shaved porcini mushrooms, and Bohemian Creamery capriago croccante

Risotto alla pilota with Wild Nettles, Wild Mushrooms, and Gerbino olio nuovo

Ricotta cavatelli with cotechino sausage, nutmeg, and lemon zest

Tagliatelle al buro di rosemarino and castelmagno cheese

Ravioli of caulifower and bone marrow

Grills, Sautés, and Rotisserie

Fried Jones Farm rabbit with black truffle maionese and shaved fall vegetable salad

Charcoal-grilled Piemontese beef ribeye with aged gruyere fonduta, potato croccante

Savoy cabbage leaves stuffed with goose, apples, and pistachios; aged balsamico gravy

Whole-roasted trout stuffed with smoked sea scallops and crayfish, spiney lobster bisque

Supreme of Riverdog Farm hen breast à la Escoffier with potato and crème fraîche purée

Spit-roasted pork belly stuffed with sweet fennel sausage; black truffle & fuyu persimmon mostarda

Brassato of Piemontese beef cheeks, sweetbreads, cippoline onions, and field mushrooms with Butternut squash & hazelnut polenta

Truffled boudin blanc de veau with chestnuts, Belgian endives, and parmesan fonduta

November 12th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Truffle Report #4: Time To Get Serious

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I arrived in Chianti last night. They have just had some significant rain (harder for the dogs to find the truffle) and it is cold (that’s good). The rain is supposed to have passed by tomorrow, so we are hopeful the ground will dry enough to begin harvesting.

Can’t help but feel a bit nervous about the next few days. In recent years there have been relatively poor yields that have miraculously turned in our favor during the final few days of my trip. We’ve been really lucky.

But this is a banner year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many truffles around. Could it really be this easy? Or could our luck just as easily turn sour in the eleventh hour? Not to be melodramatic, but there is still some mystery to all this.

Stay tuned…

November 11th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Truffle Report #3: Truffle Pizza with Giorgio

In this year’s World Pizza Championships (watch a ridiculous montage of the 2006 dough tossing competition here) held annually in Salsomaggiore Italy, our tuscan truffle hunter Giorgio Secchini and daughter Denise wowed the judges with their truffle pizza: Pear Marzolo tartufi with pecorino de Pienza, and pecorino de Fossa.

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BTW: for dinner tonight we had a 4 kg wild hare, shot by Giorgio’s son, Samuele.

November 10th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Truffle Report #2: Pass the Ginkgo Biloba

Making a slight detour to Puglia for some sun, I drove into Cisternino for their Market Day. I’ve been to Cisternino a dozen time, but it is a maze of little streets. And when it was time to leave, I couldn’t find my car. Really. Seriously.
I tried backtracking, then systematic guesses, then wild guesses, then cafe-with-iPhone-map-study. An hour and a half later, I walked into the Polizia station. These fine officers drove me around until we found my Citroën. Believe it or not, I’ve had an easier time finding truffles this year than my own car.

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November 8th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Truffle Report #1: Why Didn’t We Think of That?

Pizza with tartufi nero

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Camino pizzeria in Neive. The wine list includes many well-priced, single vineyard, well-aged Barbarescos and Barolos. Pizza had fontina and mozzarella, two eggs and fragrant black truffles. Would have been perfect if it had been made with our whole grain flour. What an idea.

November 5th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Dinners for Grifalco Wine

November 11 and November 12

Thursday, November 11, winemaker Cecilia Naldoni from Grifalco in the Monte Vulture region of Basilicata will be at Oliveto for a private winemaker dinner. Chef Paul Canales will prepare a four-course menu inspired by Basilicata and perfect for Aglianico pairings.  Thursday’s dinner in the Siena room will allow for Cecilia to discuss her wines with a small group of guests. Please call (510) 547-5356 for pricing and reservations.

The following day, Friday November 12, Cecilia will be in the general dining room floating to chat tableside with interested guests who would like to know more about her wines, the region of Basilicata and her choice to migrate from Tuscany to the South of Italy.  We will be serving our regular a la carte dinner menu and have a number of Grifalco wines available by the glass.  Please call or reserve online.

Available wines include:

2006 Gricos, consisting of fruit from all four vineyards, half of the wine seeing slovenian oak, the other half in stainless steel. The grapes from each vineyard are always kept separate and blended at maturity.

2004 and 2007 Grifalco, uses grapes from each of the four growing sites, a fifth of the wine spends twelve months in tonneau and barrique, all spends four months in bottle before release.

2005 and 2007 Damaschito, the least produced style, 4000 bottles a year, this is a single vineyard aglianico, using grapes from their best vineyard. The vines in the maschito vineyard are all over 30 years old, grown at high altitude on a windy plateau of clay and volcanic soil.

2005 and 2006 Bosco del Falco, this wine is made from fruit hand-harvested from the oldest (thirty plus years) vines in each of the four vineyards. Like Gricos and Grifalco, the fruit from each site is kept separate, Cecilia’s husband Fabrizio does this to ensure that proper oak treatment is used for the particular characteristics of each site. Bosco del Falco is aged 18 months in large oak barrels (25-50 hectoliters) then spends a year in bottle.

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Basilicata is one of Italy’s least known or visited regions, however it is not overlooked for lack of culture. Located at the instep of the boot, surrounded by Campania to the north, Puglia to the east, and Calabria to the southwest. The region has never been of notable wealth and the predominant source of income for Basilicata has always been agricultural production. Wheat is still grown over much of the region and eaten regularly. The best know and most enjoyed foods are based on those eaten by the peasant class. Common vegetables are broccoli rabe, bitter chicories, eggplant, and most of all peppers. Meat is mostly pork, including the cured sausages, sopressata and salsiccia. Lamb is also eaten, and many locals believe it is best served with the locally grown Aglianico. For a long time Aglianico produced in Basilicata was harsh and difficult to drink. It’s acids and tannins were too rough. Until recently, Aglianico was not seen as capable of greatness, often vines were torn out and replaced with wheat. Much has changed in the past 15 years, Aglianico is now somewhat well known and sought-after, but this shift is owed to winemakers like Fabrizio and Cecilia Piccin of Grifalco who saw the potential in Aglianico grown on Monte Vulture.

Fusilli making with Rosetta and Maria

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In preparation for next week’s Calabrian Dinner (menu just posted!), Rosetta and her mother, Maria, are here showing the kitchen staff how to make fusilli using their family’s traditional method. It looks a bit tricky, but they’ve got time to practice.

October 27th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Dinner to Celebrate My Calabria: November 4

November 4, 2010

[see menu]

A special dinner prepared by Chef Paul Canales in celebration of Rosetta Costantino‘s beautiful new cookbook, My Calabria.

Rosetta and Paul initially met when both of their children were attending the same school here in Oakland. After learning about Rosetta’s garden and its close proximity to Oliveto, a friendship formed around a mutual interest in the techniques and traditions of Calabrian cooking. Paul has cooked with both Rosetta, and Rosetta’s mother, Maria, on many occasions and their extensive knowledge has definitely influenced the Oliveto kitchen. Techniques such as salt-curing and dry-preserving vegetables can be seen in many of our antipasti dishes and two years ago we started making our own ricotta in-house with Rosetta’s encouragement.

call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

October 18th, 2010|2010, Events, Happened already...|0 Comments

Beef Dinner Sneak Peek

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Although this is our first Beef Dinner, it has been a long time in the making. Based on close relationships with local ranchers practicing alternative methods of raising grass-fed beef, Chef Canales has obtained a wealth of knowledge in regards to butchery, aging and cooking technique over the past six years. This, along with the construction of our meat locker, and numerous requests from our customers has finally resulted in the 2010 Beef Dinners.

The menu is still being finalized but two items have been leaked:

Grilled bone-in Rib Eye with duck livers

Smoked manzo brisket

UPDATE: see the FULL MENU

As for wine, beef needs a wine that is still somewhat tight, fruit-driven and full of tannin. Therefore, we’ll be featuring an array of glass wine selected for their tannic prowess, including:

Barolo:
Castello di Verduno 2002
“Vigna Castellero” Barale 1999

Brunello di Montalcino:
“Corte Pavone” Loacker 2000
“Riserva” Canalicchio di Sopra 2001
Casanov di Neri 2001 and 2005

Taurasi:
“Radici” Mastroberadino 2000 & 2003

Chianti:
“Vigna del Sorbo” Fontodi 1999

We are excited to be sharing this event with the ranchers who have made so much of this possible. Moira Burke of Agricola: flora et fauna will be in attendance on Thursday night, Bill Niman will be here Friday, and Mac Magruder & his family will be with us on Saturday. All of these ranchers will be available to chat in the cafe before dinner. Additionally, we will also be serving Highland beef from Larry Walters of Cedarbrook Ranch and Piedomtese beef from Ken Silva.