Skip to main content

A Few of My Favorite Fall Things: Truffles, Cheese, & Barolo #ItalianFWT


Fall might just be my favorite season. Not that the seasons here on California's central coast are very pronounced. While I love the pop of Spring wildflowers and lazy days of lounging in a hammock during Summer vacation, this season brings out my hankering for two distinctly Fall things: truffles and Barolo.

And this month, Jill of L'Occasion is hosting the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers as we post about our Favorite Italian Wines for Fall. Read her invitation here. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to join us for a Twitter chat on Saturday, September 1st at 8am (Pacific time). Or you can read the conversation at your leisure anytime by searching for #ItalianFWT.

The Line-Up


I Tartufi
To me, nothing says autumn in Italy more than truffles. Truffles. I tartufi. In gourmet circles around the world, they are a treasure and - both figuratively and literally - worth their weight in gold. But in many parts of Italy, come autumn, they are just an ingredient that has absolutely nothing to do with gourmet sophistication. Truffles are a seasonal food just like any other.

I am lucky enough to have friends who own Italian restaurants here in town. A couple of years ago, I headed to one of the restaurants, spent twenty minutes with Emanuele, and learned more about truffles than hours of research would have taught me.

In fact, hours of research would not have allowed me to smell the truffles for that distinctive earthy scent or squeeze them gently for that desirable sponginess, or listen to Emanuele explain how his friend harvests the truffles in Alba.


If you are unfamiliar, you might be wondering: What are truffles?

Truffles are a fungi and, so, related to mushrooms. But, unlike their mushroom cousins, truffles form beneath the surface of the soil and can only thrive in the conditions near stands of oaks, willows, and linden trees. All over northern and central Italy, fresh truffles are on tables in the Fall. And when they aren't in season, you can find them preserved in jars and cans.

There is a restaurant in Rome that made a unique gelato al tartufo. I was tempted to recreate that for this event, but the weather has turned cold and gelato was not high on my list of to-dos. And, this year, I didn't see that Emanuele had any truffles at his restaurant in time for this event, so I went with a truffle cheese. But first...


In My Glass
Barolo is a red wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy made from the Nebbiolo grape. Nebbiolo is a small, thin-skinned grape varietal that's generally high in acid and tannins; the resulting wine is usually rich, full-bodied and carries that acidity and tannins with it.


I was able to get my hands on a Virna Barolo 2013. To the eye, it's a rich ruby shade. To the nose, the bouquet is subtle with hints of sweet cherries, spicy pepper, and even earthy truffles. It's dry and elegant with a long, flavorful finish.


On My Plate
Because of that earthy hint of truffles, I decided to make a fonduta with truffle cheese and truffle oil since I couldn't get my hands on any truffles ahead of this event. Fonduta is similar to fondue but includes egg yolks and milk to make it lusciously rich and creamy. 


Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound cheese (I used a mixture of cheeses plus some truffled gouda)
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks (reserve the whites for something else, such as meringues)
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 t truffle oil
  • bread for serving

Procedure 
In a shallow bowl, combine the cheese and milk, submerging the cheese fully in the milk. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Drain off 1/2 C of the milk and place it in a bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk until blended.

Put the cheese, the remaining milk and the butter in a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly in the rim of a saucepan, making a double-boiler. Pour about 2 inches of water into the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the heat so the water simmers gently, and suspend the bowl with the cheese over the simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until the cheese is melted and smooth, approximately 3 minutes. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, approximately 5 minutes more.

Pour the fonduta over the hunks of bread. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Comments

  1. I think truffles is an acquired taste. I use my truffle oil very sparingly, since Frank hasn't seemed to acquire it yet LOL. This fondue sounds amazing. Perfect for a Fall night around the campfire. Can't wait to give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to admit, I'm with Wendy on this one. As much as I think truffles are cool and unique, I also think a little goes a long way!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a snowy winter's day. We don't have such days here in Miami, but maybe if I turn the a/c up really high, I can pretend. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Truffles is such an acquired taste and I agree with the rest of the bunch that the white truffles I enjoy are very strong and I use it sparingly. Must have been such an informative session meeting with your friends learning all about them. I wish I was in your house for this tasting!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thought I was the only person lukewarm on truffles. I like the earthy flavor maybe the key is less is more! I have never heard of Fonduta, I will have to try it with a glass of Barolo of course!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Jamaican Stew Peas #EattheWorld

  Here we are at November #EattheWorld event. What a year this has been! This challenge has been one that gave us some excuse for virtual travel as we've been sheltered-in-place with the coronavirus epidemic for most of 2020. So, we've been able to read about different parts of the world and create a dinner, or at least a dish, with that cuisine. This Eat the World project is spearheaded by Evelyne of  CulturEatz . Read more about  her challenge . This month, Evelyne had us heading to somewhere tropical: Jamaica. I have actually been to Jamaica, but it was almost thirty years ago...and it was just a jumping off point for the rest of our Caribbean exploration. I don't remember eating anything at all! Pandemonium Noshery: Pumpkin Rice   Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Jamaican Stew Peas  Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Jamaican Chicken & Pumpkin Soup   Palatable Pastime: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Burger   Sneha’s Recipe: Jamaican Saucy Jerk Chicken Wings With Homemade Jerk Seas

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

#comfortfood: Jamie Oliver's Ossobuco with Bean Ragout

As one of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day Ambassadors ( I'm the Monterey #FRD2014 rep! ) I will be sent a copy of his latest cookbook - to cook from and write about. I can't wait. I do have to laugh though, because its title is  Comfort Food . And, according to a good friend:  I only make uncomfortable food . Oh, well. I can learn! To celebrate launch day - today - I'm sharing one of the recipes. Here's Jamie Oliver's Ossobuco alla Milanese recipe from his new cookbook, Comfort Food. And here's my adaptation. I typically don't eat veal, so I went to our local butcher for some lamb shanks sliced into an osso buco-style cut; but they had just sold their last shanks. Darn. But then I noticed the "never tethered...free to roam" on the veal package and decided to go for it. I added in shelling beans to make a ragout and served it over wild rice instead of risotto. Also, I used lots of different herbs in my gremolata instead of just pa