When I come across anything truffle related I can’t help but slip into extravagant mode and pretend I’m in a very different place. A moment in time that I’ll never forget. Somewhere far from Sydney and on the other side of the world.
If someone were to ask me “Do you prefer real truffles or chocolate truffles?” My answer would be uttered in a second.
I’m talking about that glorious fungus that grows in the ground. A culinary diamond that’s either loved or something that people struggle to appreciate. There’s no struggle with me, however.
The most memorable truffle experience for me was in the Italian village of Gubbio, several months before I started this blog in 2009. Much of the time on that Italian jaunt was spent in Umbria/Perugia, up in the north of the country with my better half and his sister. Eating, drinking vino and exploring the local terra firma.
A great way to get a birds-eye view of the old town is by taking a ride in the funivia. An open-air basket that carries you up Monte Ingino to Basilica Sant’ Ubaldo. Anyone with height issues may find it a struggle!
Gubbio is one of those typical preserved medieval hill-towns that’s all about Renaissance and Gothic buildings, steep cobbled streets and a food scene that’s saturated with game meats and local truffles. I remember picking up a clump of smoked chipolata-style sausages heavily studded with truffle; something I ate like grapes to savour that gloriously pungent and almost burning flavour. How could I not when truffles are so inexpensive in these parts?
I could have easily eaten my way around the numerous gourmet providores but we ended up lunching at a place called Ristorante Il Bargello. One of the most memorable meals I’ve had to date. As with most restaurants in Gubbio, their menu is truffle-centric and very affordable. €12 for tagliolini al tartufo? Yes please.
The pasta was nothing short of divine. Home made tagliolini cooked perfectly and lightly sauced-up with finely chopped porcini mushrooms and a healthy dose of black truffle.
* Truffle was supplied by Lilydale
I’ve recreated that dish from Gubbio with a black truffle that I recently acquired; a 22 gram beauty from Western Australia. To ramp up the mushroom content I’ve brought in some baby portobello – or baby bella – and of course used delicious dried porcini and the luscious liquid I soaked them in. For a caress of sweetness I’ve splashed in some marsala wine, just to keep the Italian theme running through this tasty dish.
One small truffle may not be enough to cover four servings, so finely grating it rather than shaving may be the way to go. Unless of course you get your hands on a larger specimen and get heavy-handed in the shaving action.