Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The last few weeks have been all about truffles. First there was the whole Pico thing. My 8 year old mutt decided, out of the blue, that he was a truffle dog. At least for two days at the end of August. One day, coming back from his early morning walk on his own on our property, he returned to the back door with a huge truffle in his mouth.
And then, two days later, while our gardener was digging up an old bush, Pico came running over, started digging, and came up with three more truffles.
After that burst of energy, Pico has pretty much taken it easy since then, mostly napping on various couches and certainly not out truffling.
On the other hand my maid (or at leas her son) has had better luck, and she gifted me an entire bag full of the black beauties. I gladly used those - and the Pico truffles - to make pasta and pizza and even a completely indulgent breakfast of eggs. And I still have a baggie full of truffles in my freezer.
But not all my truffling has been at home. While researching the Umbria trip for Oldways, I’ve been checking out some new (at least for me) restaurants. I’ve already told you about Orvieto, where we had the carbonara truffle combo.
But the real truffle extravaganza came when Gillian and I headed over the hills to Trevi, to visit truffle central at San Pietro a Pettine.
I’d actually come across this company at Taste, in Florence, where I tried some of their products like truffle honey and truffle pate. What I didn’t realize is that they also have a restaurant and organize private truffle hunts on their estate (thank you Jennifer for telling me about this!)
Since Gillian and I were feeling kind of lazy, we let the truffles be hunted on their own, and settled for a multi-course, truffle-laden meal cooked for us by Alice, whose father owns San Pietro a Pettine.
It was a veritable truffle orgy.
We started out with a mixed antipasto which combined rustic, old fashioned, truffle treatments with new and fresh approaches. A piece of country bread was toasted and topped with a paper thin slice of lardo before being smothered with grated truffles. A freshly baked slice of slightly sweet brioche was slathered with a porcini-truffle pate’. Fresh balls of mozzarella were sliced open to hold the clever pairing of marinated zucchini and truffle slices. An old fashioned truffle filled galatine of chicken was served with a few slices of preserved artichokes. And finally, sharp pecorino cheese was drizzled with truffle infused honey.
And that was only the beginning.
A truly obscene amount of truffles was used to make the fabulous spaghetti al tartufo. This was followed by a soft and creamy plate of farm fresh eggs scrambled with....of course, more massive amounts of truffles.
Although I didn’t think it possible to eat anything more - truffled or not - both Gillian and I managed to finish the pignoli panna cotta topped with (you’re not going to believe this) truffle nutella.
Which, I can admit right here, I could live on.
We made a half-hearted effort to walk off the lunch by visiting the exquisitely preserved and restored Romanesque church of San Pietro on the property. And of course visited their little store to stock up on such things as truffle honey, truffled quail eggs and the cutest little truffle mushroom risotto kits I’ve ever seen.
I do plan on going back for a truffle hunt as soon as possible. But in the meantime I watched Alice doing her truffle thing in the kitchen - and made a video - so, what with my truffle bounty stashed in my freezer, I can make do at home for at least the next few weeks.
spaghetti al tartufi estivi*
*I visited San Pietro at the end of August and it was summer truffle season. While fragrant, summer truffles are are generally used in higher quantities than the white or black winter truffles.
200 grams of pasta
20 grams of black summer truffles, grated (plus more for grating at table)
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 tsp colatura (anchovy sauce)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, gently heat the garlic clove in the oil. When it begins to brown, remove it. Take the pan off the heat and add the grated truffle. Gently heat over a low flame. Add a bit of the pasta water, and let it bubble for a minute or two. Add a bit more pasta water and the colatura and stir.
Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the truffles. Turn up the heat and mix thoroughly.
Divide the pasta between two plates, and top with freshly grated truffle.
San Pietro a Pettine
Loc. San Pietro a Pettine