Posts Tagged With: White Truffles

Tartufo Bianco

White truffles are a treasure from the Piedmont area of Italy. They are known for their therapeutic an aphrodisiac properties derived from the god Jupiter. In the Middle Ages, the discovery of white truffles was associated with the dance of witches. It was not until 1831 that the botanist Carlo Vittadini scientifically described and classified truffles in his book, Monographia tuberacearum. Alba is the best known city for these delicacies. Until you have eaten a white truffle you have not lived. No, you don’t eaten them by themselves but they are shaved or grated on eggs, pasta, risotto, meats, etc. They add flavor to a dish as a spice would. They are the second most expensive food in the world. Saffron is the most expensive by weight. Thank God you only need a small one and they do not weigh much.

To get one Fed Ex’ed to America will cost you around $100. They will last for a few days to a week at most. Italians use them on their dishes while they are fresh and store them in a jar full of risotto rice. The rice will eventually rob the truffle of its flavor. The good news is you now have a wonderful flavored rice to make risotto from.

Many countries, including America has tried to grow these wonders without much success. They grow like a mushroom on the roots of special Oak Trees. Since they are underground they are hard to find. Italians have used pigs to find them but pigs love them and usually win the fight. They now use special trained dogs to find them The dogs will not eat them leaving the farmer with his treasures.

Black truffles grow in more places and are the truffle used most in France. The white truffle is stronger and more of a treasure. To a person that has never tasted one, the smell is not a pleasant one. After you have eaten them the smell becomes an attraction. Don’t let your nose spoil a wonderful dish for you. Manga il tartufo bianco!

George

 

Categories: Alba, Cooking, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lombard Cooking

All over Italy you can find good Italian food but the north and the south differ in styles and foods. In the south we have what we think of as Italian Cooking. Red sauces, meatballs, pizza and lots of fish. In the north you have veal, white sauces, pizza and more meat. The north also has white truffles! These are a favorite of ours. Black truffles (Italy and France) are good but can’t stand next to a white truffle. They are rare, hard to get and expensive. second in cost only to saffron. Like saffron, you use it as a seasoning. So a small truffle goes a long way.

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles
  6. The bars have the best Panini in all of Italy at lunch time. They also have great pastries and coffee for breakfast.
  7. Great crusty bread
  8. Great Wines
  9. Chocolate and
  10. GELATO!

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but We think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital f the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine. See the sales first in Milan. Walk the stores and enjoy the fashion. This is Milan.

Milan is also home to a great Leonardo Da Vinci museum, Duomo, the Opera House, the Galleria and the original Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the small church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Don’t miss these great attractions.

Last Supper Leonardp da vinci

George & Jo Ann

 

Categories: Bars, Bread, Coffee, Cooking, Duomo, Espresso, Europe, Food, Italy, Lakes of Italy, Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci, Lombardy, Milan, Pastry, Risotto, Santa Maria delle Grazie, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lombard Region Cooking

The Lombardy region of Italy is in the north and contains Milan, Largo Guarda and Largo Como. It contains the most people and has a diverse cooking style. Some of the foods known in this region are:

  1. Veal
  2. Risotto
  3. Polenta
  4. Cow’s milk cheeses
  5. White Truffles

Most American’s think of this area as heavy creamy sauces but those are for the tourists. Milano has great pizzas, meat dishes, vegetables and cheeses. During the end of the year is truffle season and you can get fantastic pasta or veal with white truffles. These are expensive but worth a try. Milan is often overlooked as a tourist destination but I think it’s a great city. It is the fashion capital f the world. It has well dressed people and fashion is everywhere. Sit and try a pizza or a pasta. Visit the Duomo (cathedral), Galleria, and Opera House. Become a Milanese and enjoy life with a glass of wine.

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba - Italy....

Risotto with White Truffles from Alba – Italy. photo by Simone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The north & south go Italy are very different cultures and people. Both have a lot to offer. Enjoy your visit.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cooking, Duomo, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Lombardy, Milan, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

White Truffles

Italy produces all the world’s white truffles and consumes most of them. Black truffles also grow in Italy and in France. People all over the world have tried to get the prized white truffle to grow without much success. It grows as a fungus (mushroom family) on the roots of certain Oak Trees. Know one knows why the Oak Trees in Alba area of the Piedmont region of Italy can grow such delicious truffles. They are not pretty to look at and their smell will turn off those that have never had them. The taste is divine. Italians shave them very thin over veal or grated on pasta and risotto. They can also be grated over eggs.

They are harvested in the fall and there are festivals in the north of Italy to celebrate. We have seen in our news the record-breaking white truffle that was just auctioned off. These little gems are like gold. They grow underground and are very hard to find. Humans can not smell them underground. In days of old, Italians would use pigs to find them. The one BIG problem was the pig! It seems pigs like truffles even more than we do. Can you picture a small Italian farmer fighting a ton sized pig for a truffle? Today they use trained dogs. They can find them just as well as pigs do but won’t eat them.

If you are so lucky to be in northern Italy in the fall, get some dish with truffles on it. Make sure they are white truffles and not black ones. We recently bought a truffle in Philadelphia that was overnighted from Italy. It cost $5,280 per pound. No we didn’t spend that much. They are so light that a medium size truffle cost us about $100. They last about a week. We had great food for one week. You can also buy white truffle oil and use it in cooking your dishes or sprinkle it over risotto or pasta dishes.

Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Alba, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Festivals, Italy, Risotto, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Go to Italy?

We were pondering this question and determining if we might go for Christmas (this year or next). There are many reasons we go to Italy and they are all positive. in fact we have no negative reasons for not going.

Reasons to go to Italy:

  1. The country is beautiful. The beaches are among the best in the world and the mountains are spectacular.
  2. The food is fantastic. Italian food in Italy is nothing like Italian food here in the US. It is so much better. Fresh ingredients cooked to perfection. Forget Fettuccine Alfredo and chicken or shrimp parmesan. They don’t exist in Italy except in tourist places (and you don’t want to eat there). The bread is to die for! Don’t forget gelato, chocolate or the famous Italian white truffles.
  3. The wine is top-notch. Italy produces some of the best wines in the world. Everyone in Italy drinks wine and understands it. From the greats like Chianti to Barolo and Brunello. Even the local wines are fantastic. Try them!
  4. The people are friendly. Italians love Americans and are very friendly. You find great people from small cities to the largest cities.
  5. There is little crime in Italy. You do find pick pockets in the larger cities but violent crime is almost nonexistent. We felt safe walking small streets in Rome at midnight.
  6. Tradition exists here. Everyone was brought up on Italian tradition and pass it on to their children.
  7. Art exists everywhere. We describe Italy as an open air museum. The art and architecture are everywhere you look. Yes the museums are still important to see but Italy is a huge museum.
  8. The language is beautiful to hear. It is like hearing a song when they speak.
  9. Italy is about relaxing, family, friends, food and wine. Enjoy it!
  10. Italy is romance. Get reacquainted with the one you love and be romantic.

Take your pen out right now and add Italy to your bucket list. Don’t just add it, VAI (GO)! When you go don’t be an American or think like one. This is not America. Be an Italian and enjoy your vacation like no other you have taken. The long trip home on the airplane will find you with a smile and many good memories.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Beaches, Bread, Europe, Gelato, Italian language, Italy, Museums, Small Towns, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Italy Cuisine

Northern Italy and southern Italy have two very different cuisines. The south was influenced by sunny weather and Greeks and Arabs while the north had influences from France, Germany and Switzerland. The north has a cold climate so the food was more “stick to the ribs” type food. The north uses more butter and dairy than the south. It has great foods like white truffles and polenta.

White Truffles – Are from the mushroom family but taste nothing like a mushroom. They seem to stink to those that have never had them but the smell can build appetite to those that know these little delicacies. Truffles are the second most expensive food by weight (second only to saffron). They can be $5,000 a pound but a pound of truffles can season food for a small army. You can get a small to medium truffle for around $100. It is grated over pasta, eggs or risotto to add flavor and very thinly (paper-thin) sliced over veal. If you haven’t tried a white truffle you need to go to northern Italy around October to November. No other region in the world has been successful in cultivating these small wonders. France and southern Italy have black truffles which are good but not as good as the white ones.

Polenta – Corn meal that can be made in a pot and served like a thick soup or stew or it can then be poured into a baking disk and cooked into a bread consistency. Then you slice it into small squares. At the base of the alps it is served in all the local bars. After a day on the slopes or walking around in the snow, a drink and slice or two of polenta will warm you up.

Each region in the north has its own local cuisine. Italians make simple but delicious foods. They will only use fresh ingredients to cook their dishes. Time is still spent making wonderful regional dishes the same way their grandma or  great-great grandma did.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Polenta, Regions of Italy, White Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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