Culpepper Steak House Does Two Pound Truffle Right
Bob Clements is one lucky guy. In addition to owning Rockwall’s Culpepper Steak House, until last week, Clements briefly owned an $8,000 white truffle, the largest Alba truffle to be exported to the US from Italy in the past three years. Where is it now?
“We kept a few shavings,” says Culpepper’s execuchef, Chad Bowden, who used most of the softball-size, 26-0unce tartufo di Alba at a seven course dinner he hosted last week with six area chefs, which included Sharon Hage, Richard Chamberlain, Randall Copeland, Brian Luscher, Dan Landsberg, Nathan Tate and Rachel Jeske. About 30 people each paid $350 to eat dishes prepared with the truffle and paired with a half-dozen Bertani wines from Italy’s Veneto region.
The truffle found its way into cauliflower gratin in puff pastry, asparagus risotto, a lovely Borolo-based barbecue sauce for grilled quail, a heady sunchoke purée that accompanied roasted pheasant confit-foie gras ravioli, and Bowden’s dry-aged Kobe strip steak entree which included truffle and Pyrenees cheese scallop potatoes. Chef Sharon Hage, who recently shuttered her critically acclaimed Dallas restaurant, York Street, was there looking relaxed and radiant. Hage served chilled lobster with Meyer lemon and truffle-infused celeriac puree. For dessert, Culpepper’s pastry chef, Rachel Jeske, mixed truffle shavings into ice cream, which she served scooped into a white pepper-Parmesan cone.
Though the wines were from a different region then the truffle, they paired brilliantly with each of the courses. The highlight of the evening: the 1981 Bertani Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico teamed with Bowden’s Kobe steak.
Guest Peg Pannell Smith was quick to point out that the crowd was mostly made up of Rockwall residents. “We know good food and good wine,” said Smith, who brought her friend Carol Crow to the dinner. Crow admitted she was unfamiliar with truffles, but after the last course, she vowed to return the following year “if Bob will do it again.”
“We’ve been trying for three years to buy an Alba truffle this big, but each year we’ve been outbid,” Bowden told me at the end of the evening. “This time, we told the exporter, ‘Skip the bidding. Here’s $8000, take it or leave it.'”
He took it.
We ate it.
Good call, Mr. Clements.
(photos courtesy of Robert Bostick)