I did wonder though if, yet again, I'd be underwhelmed by black truffles. I'd had them from the markets in Beaune and Carpentras before, I'd been on a forage in St. Bris le Vineux, I'd unearthed them in the Lubéron where I'd packed them into a box of fresh eggs and a tin of Arborio rice hoping that their supposedly magic olfactory properties would symbiotically transform any subsequent omelette or risotto I made from them. But it seemed to me that truffles were more about smell and less about taste.
Before attacking the first course we had some Taittinger Brut enlivened by deliciously fresh crab & cucumber bites (well, licks, as these were served on small spoons passed around on trays) and lightly smoked tiny chunks of salmon. We listened to the local farmer who has chanced upon what might be the most fecund patch of truffle-laden forest in Europe, if not the world. The past 4 years have yielded over a ton of commercially viable, worm-free, intact truffles. The whereabouts of this 10 acre chalky patch of mainly beech and hazel forest are necessarily kept secret but I have been invited to go and have a look as long as I am escorted there blindfolded.
Next wine was Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2008 (retail £14.95) which had lovely cherryish fruit, fine tannins, fresh acidity and a slightly bitter finish.
A delight on its own (or with a plate of charcuterie perhaps) but floored by the challenging pudding of blackberry crumble, blackberry jelly, and creamed cheese ice cream. To be fair, most whites, sweet included, would have clashed.
The outstanding ice cream was reminiscent of those served in the Basque country of Northern Spain; a cheesy, slightly sour and salty cream, great with the darkly acid fruit.