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Monday, October 5, 2015

Wining and Dining at "The Wild Truffle" in Lake Charles

by Sydney "Brown Nose" Blanchard

I think there's an often overlooked observation to be made about Louisiana cuisine. For every specialty meats store tucked inside an unassuming gas station, there also exists an extravagant, fine dining establishment that defies expectations.

In my recent travels to Lake Charles, Louisiana, I got to experience the best the area had to offer on both ends of the dining spectrum.

On our final night in the LC, we were loaded onto our party bus one final time and herded to La Truffe Sauvage. Jay had the chance to dine there back in 2013, and his write-up got me excited to try out one of Lake Charles' finest restaurants.

Chef Mohamed Chettouh along with Chef Arthur Durham opened the French-inspired eatery back in 1998. Prior to that, both enjoyed successful international and regional culinary careers.

Chef Mohamed combines his background in traditional French cuisine with a dedication to the local ingredients Louisiana has to offer to create mouth-watering, seasonal menus.

And our dinner at La Truffe Sauvage was no exception.

We started the evening off with French 75 cocktails topped with St. Germain foam, and soon after sat down to begin our five-course wine dinner.

Wild Gulf red snapper with saffron risotto and heirloom tomato confit 

First, the chef sent out pan roasted wild Gulf red snapper on top of saffron risotto and heirloom tomato confit. The delicate, flaky white fish and the buttery, fluffy risotto were paired with a 2010 Domaine William Fevre Chablis, which is a chardonnay with fresh, floral notes. 

Sunchoke velouté en crôute with duck confit

Next came the "sunchoke velouté en crôute" with duck confit, which amounted to a sunchoke soup with bits of duck in it served in a pastry-crusted teacup. Sunchoke, also known as Jerusalem artichoke, is a root vegetable not at all like an artichoke. This course was paired with a 2013 white wine called Vin Soave Classico from the Inama Winery in Italy. Fruity and sweet, it matched well with the delicate flavors of the sunchoke.

Chèvre chaud on roasted red and yellow beets

The next dish was a crowd-pleaser: chèvre chaud (fried goat cheese) atop roasted red and yellow beets, asparagus, and arugula swimming in a black truffle vinaigrette. This was one of the best things I have ever eaten. The aromatic cheese patty was crusted and had a distinct lemony flavor that balanced well. Paired with this dish was a Chilean pinot noir from the Indomita Duette Vineyard. The spicy flavor with hints of dried red fruit made it a perfect match for this course.

Filet mignon topped with foie gras

Last came the tournedo Rossini, or filet mignon topped with foie gras, with pomme macaire (a potato cake), carrot fondante, steamed young spinach, topped with sauce madère. Truly, this dish captured me. The sauce combined with the perfectly cooked cut of meat and the foie gras made for a delicious bite, and the potato cake and carrots were heaven-sent, providing a perfect palate cleanser in between bites of filet. This very French dish was paired with an award-winning Spanish red wine from Ribera del Duero.

Dark chocolate mousse in almond tulip

And finally, dessert. After eating four substantial courses, I doubted I was capable of eating another bite of anything. But when the dark chocolate mousse was brought out, I couldn't resist. The mousse sat in an almond tulip and was topped with orange curd. The vanilla cream sauce and orange segment were a nice touch, but the mousse was the real star of the show. Dessert was paired with a 10 year Tawny port by Quinta do Noval out of Portugal. The dried fruit and orange zest notes brought out the orange flavors in the dessert.

Just when we thought we'd finished gorging ourselves, we were brought a selection of truffles: white chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. I couldn't bear to take one more bite, so I had mine boxed up to enjoy later that evening in the privacy of my hotel room.

La Truffe Sauvage is small and warm and quaint. It feels like eating at home, if you're able to cook fabulous French cuisine at your house (I'm not). I can't wait to go back!