Relais & Chateaux Celebrates 60 Years with “Provence to Carmel” Truffle Dinner at Aubergine

In the last installment of Glamorous Getaways featuring the L’Auberge Carmel hotel, I promised details of the “Provence to Carmel” dinner held in honor of Relais & Chateaux’s 60th Anniversary and I’m back to keep my promise! 

This special dinner featured the delightful duo of Aubergine Chef de Cuisine Justin Cogley (pictured, above right) and Chef Jacques Chibois (above left) of Relais & Chateaux’s La Bastide Saint Antoine property in Provence, France who flew in especially for this event. The two Chefs teamed up to create a dreamy dégustation menu which featured both black and white truffles in a variety of creative dishes which were expertly paired with wines to enhance their respective flavors.


Gorgeous White Truffles!


Fabulous Black Truffles!

Truffles have been a highly sought after delicacy since the 4th century BC and are still prized due to their scarcity. Famed French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin dubbed the elusive, über-expensive fungi “diamonds of the kitchen” due to their exorbitant price.

Different types of truffles grow in a variety of countries including France, Italy, Spain and even the United States and Fall is prime season for many varieties including the black Burgundy truffle and white Alba truffle from Italy’s Piedmont region. Truffles are harvested using trained “truffle dogs” whose keen sense of smell can locate them among tree roots where they commonly grow. Unlike the more pungent truffle oil which usually doesn’t contain any real truffle, fresh truffles have delicate, earthy aromas and flavors and differ in taste according to the variety.


Shortly after we were seated for dinner in the lovely Aubergine dining room, a lovely amuse bouche appeared.

This gift from the sea was a small oyster tied with a simple, twine bow and, when opened, revealed a lovely morsel of briny deliciousness topped with caviar which primed our palates for the feast to come.


Diver Scallop with Black Truffle & Lemon

Chef Cogley prepared the first course, a delightful Diver Scallop with Black truffle and Lemon. The beautiful presentation featured a perfectly seared, plump scallop atop a scallop shell bathed in the perfect amount of sauce and garnished with a dusting of finely chopped chives.

The scallop was expertly paired with the Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Tradition Champagne whose bright acidity and rich body complemented the scallop deliciously.


Sea Bass cooked in Herb Stew with Fennel Purée & Lemon Coulis

Next, Chef Chibois treated us to Sea Bass cooked in Herb Stew with Fennel Purée and Lemon Coulis. The tender, flavorful fish was served atop the purée and coulis and then garnished with a frothy espuma and bright green fennel fronds.

The dish looked delicious on a simple white textured plate and paired perfectly with the 2012 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol Blanc from Provence. The kiss of oak in the wine made it a wonderful match for the complexity of the sumptuous sea bass.


Chef Justin Cogley & his Delightful 32-day Aged Duck

Chef Cogley kicked it up a notch with our next dish, a 32-day aged Duck with Charred Eggplant and White Truffle.

The flavor of the succulent duck was beautifully accented by the white truffle and char of the eggplant not to mention the wine pairing, the 2010 Kazmer & Blaze Primo’s Hill Pinot Noir from Carneros. The wine’s red cherry fruit and spice were a perfect match for the rich texture and flavor of the duck.


Roasted Lamb on Niçoise Pissaladiere with Black Truffle, Sesame Juice & Olive Oil

The delicious duck was followed by Chef Chibois’ delectable Roasted Lamb on Niçoise Pissaladiere with Black Truffle, Sesame Juice and Olive Oil. The tender, flavorful roasted lamb melted in my mouth along with the tasty accoutrements.

Each bite of this dish was beautifully accentuated by the complexity of the wine, the 2008 Domaine de Trévallon Rouge, a full-bodied, Provençal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with delightful notes of black cherry, smoky plum, black tea and spice.


The ’09 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc “La Crau”

As a transition before our next two (yes – two!) dessert courses, Chef Cogley served a plate featuring Cranberry bean, White Truffle and Ossau Iraty. The French, sheep’s milk cheese was ever so lightly melted over the cranberry beans and topped with shavings of the heavenly truffle – ooh la la!

The elegant 2009 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc “La Crau” was the perfect accompaniment with opulent notes of baked apple, pear, ginger and spice.


Celery Ice Cream with Black Truffle & Crispy Milk


White Chocolate & White Truffle

For the Grand Finale we were in the capable hands of Aubergine Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza who rocked both black and white truffles in dessert form! We enjoyed a delicious duo of Celery Ice Cream with Black Truffle and Crispy Milk as well as White Chocolate and White Truffle.

Both delightful dishes synergized with the 2011 Charles Hours Clos Uruolat Jurançon from Southwest France. The luxuriously sweet wine was a dessert in and of itself but paired remarkably well with each dish.

This very special meal was a wonderful way to commemorate Relais & Chateaux’s 60th Anniversary and the perfect way to spend our last night at L’Auberge Carmel in the heavenly, seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Bon appétit,


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