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Melisse restaurant holds one-night-only black truffle festival

Australian sliced black truffles
Australian sliced black truffles
Melisse Restaurant, Santa Monica

Fresh black Perigord truffles are one of France’s rarest and most prized culinary specialties. Famed gourmand MFK Fisher swooned over the gnarly looking underground fungi. Alice Waters buried eggs in a basket of the aromatic tubers to absorb their scent before scrambling them with cream. And A.J. Liebling revered the precious orbs baked in smoldering ashes. When, paper thin truffle slices are shaved over risotto or pasta they can add over $100 to the price of a dish.

The European truffle season is tragically short, just a few brief weeks from late Fall to mid-December then, poof, the gems are gone until the next year.

But there’s an upside. The precious delicacies have been cultivated in small batches South Australia for years. And the Down Under season, being opposite that of Europe’s, means they’re available in summertime in Europe and the U.S.A. Australian truffles can sell for up to $2500 a kilogram and are gaining a reputation as “just as good as the French ones”.

Aussies are so crazy about their truffles the country holds at least half-a-dozen truffle festivals yearly in various parts of the country. At this year’s Truffle Kerfuffle (June 27 to 29) held in Manjimup, in Western Australia, diners and lunches are already sold out—although you can still book one of the truffle hunts for which trained dogs are used to sniff out the treasure (unlike pigs often used in France). The chef demos also have space.

Here in L.A. Award winning chef Josiah Citrin of the world-class Melisse will launch the summer truffle season with a multi course truffle-intensive dinner.

Collaborating on the venture is influential and talented Australian chef Peter Gilmore of the highly-rated Quay in Sydney. The restaurant has been included in the “S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list for six years consecutively and named “Best Restaurant in Australasia” three times receiving three Chef Hats (the Australian equivalent to Michelin stars).

Gilmore will be creating a black truffle and scallop tart with rosehip and beet; a bitter chocolate and truffle pudding appetizer and a main course of Wagyu Beef with cultured wheat and truffles.

Citrin will contribute potato-leek soup with whipped truffles, wild king salmon and jidori chicken courses –both with different truffle preparations--as well as peach tart with Armagnac ice cream for dessert.

WHEN: Friday, June 13

Two seating windows offered, 5:30PM - 6:30PM and 8:15PM - 9:15PM. Reservations required and can be made starting Monday, May 12,

via OpenTable or by calling Mélisse, 310.395.0881

WHERE: Mélisse

1104 Wilshire Blvd.

Santa Monica, CA 90401

310.395.0881

COST: $185 per person, or $280 with wine pairing; exclusive of tax and gratuity