Late Autumn in Italy’s Piedmont is a sublime time of the year. The rush of harvest is over, vines are bare and the air is crisp, with snow beginning to fall on the Alps. The buz in Alba shifts from grapes to one of the world’s most expensive ingredients, the famous white truffle, or tartufo bianco. Black truffles, be they Italian, French or Australian have nothing on this pungent nugget of goodness. I don’t normally travel to Italy at this time of the year so when I did so last year, the only meal I ate that was without a slice of truffle was breakfast. I ate them every which way:- shaved over risotto, pasta (tajarin in Piedmont), eggs (baked and fried), fonduta and carne cruda. At Barolo Rosso in the village of Barolo, Chiara Boschis called the waiter over half way through my tajarin and had him pile my plate once more with truffles – the best second helping ever!
Eating truffles is a strange experience in that so much of the flavour is in the smell, and it invades your every pore. The generous shavings atop these very simple dishes can turn a humble fried egg into a dish of beauty. No complicated michelin starred cooking required here, just take a dish made in every home in this region, and shave away.
Given that a meal at one of my favourites, Sosta Cucina, is cheaper and more convenient than an airfare to Milan, we heeded the call when Maurice told us of his new delivery. You can take your pick here of shavings on risotto, tagliolini or egg and polenta. At $11 per gram, I suggest 4-5 grams to really enjoy them.
8.05 grams of shaved truffle later (for two) and this is one of the best dishes you will ever eat. And you must, absolutely must enjoy this with a glass of Nebbiolo.