Tag Archives: truffles

June in November

What gives? Since the start of this month it has been 70-76°F during the day and the air is so warm that a load of laundry is completely dried before the sun goes down. I’m stocked up on holiday baking supplies, a truckload of firewood is on the way, and yet…and yet it feels as if I should be putting the mosquito screens back into place and planning meals around leafy salads and iced tea. Make me a mojito, it feels like early summer in the chestnut forest.

San Marco

Only that it isn’t summer, it’s fall, and with fall comes all the really good stuff like…

Truffles – this photo was actually taken last year when we ordered black ones through our favorite supermarket. They’re nothing compared to the white truffles in Piemonte, but they’re easier on the wallet. No time to attend any tartufo fairs this season but there’s a lot of truffle products (butter, cream, oils, etc) on store shelves right now.

Mister B and the big black truffle

Figs – honestly, I thought fig season was over. I adore figs. Weekends are the only time when we do breakfast, and it’s always something speedy. Fruit, nuts, ricotta, whole-grain bread and cappuccino. Sometimes it’s pancakes or waffles, appetites willing.

Breakfast ultra-lite to start a Sunday

and the best part of fall… sagra events. The last weekend of October and the first weekend of November in Pizzighettone, Lombardy are the set dates for Fasulin de l’oc cun le cudeghe. Tender black-eyed peas with pork skin in a thick, hearty soup. We’ve gone a couple times since our first experience in 2006 but I never updated with a post. Things have changed (in a good way) especially for dog owners. A full report tomorrow.

Fasulin de l'oc 2015
Fasulin de l’oc, raspadura cheese, grilled polenta, cheese and mostarda, lardo and salame.

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A day trip to Norcia

Piazza San Benedetto, Norcia

The location of our b&b in Panicale made it easy to visit several Umbrian hilltop towns under 75 minutes or less, but on day #2 of the trip, I was already jonesing for something else: the beer made by the monks of Norcia. A few months ago a little bird (thank you Nonna T) had tipped me off about the brewery, and while it did mean a couple hours drive, it was high time that we visited Norcia and their famous norcinerie or shops full of pork products.

A norcineria is like a salumeria anywhere else in Italy, but with a double dose of character. Every few steps, storefront displays like this one beckon shoppers to yield to temptation. At Dai Tre Porcellini – The Three Little Pigs – all that lacked was a bunch of hungry wolves to take advantage of the super saver deals.

Dai Tre Porcellini Norcineria
Dai Tre Porcellini

Pork is, and will always be, king in Norcia. Wild boar included. There’s even a name for the butcher – il norcino – who processes the pig meat into those tasty cuts that you just wish you could get stateside on the cheap. Some products have creative names, like palle del nonno (grandpa’s balls), which, I might add, were quite large even in its cured state.

Norcineria

So we didn’t get to meet any monks but bought their brew at Corvus et Columba (on the alley left of the church) and sat on the warm stone steps of the statue in the middle of the square. Lunch hour was upon us, I had a sudden thirst for a glass of wine, and we’re surrounded by pork. Oh, and it’s also truffle season.

Fiaschetteria La Crapula

Fiaschetteria La Crapula is an amazing locale dishing up local cuisine with a good dose of class and a touch of whimsy. Small, intimate, jazz spinning softly in the background, and for the kid in you, blackboard tabletops to doodle on. A blackboard menu lists the day’s specials (yes there was pork), but we were hungry for a good plate of pasta and soon discovered that the chef creates dishes that are nothing short of perfection.

Mezzemaniche w/ricotta and black truffles
Mezzemaniche with ricotta, parmigiano and black truffle shavings 15€

Bruschette with black truffle Fiaschetteria La Crapula a pranzo
Bruschette al tartufo nero / bruschette with black truffle spread 8€

Bucatini all'amatriciana Fiaschetteria La Crapula: dopo pranzo
Bucatini all’amatriciana 9.50€

If our hosts at the farmstay hadn’t spoiled us so much with breakfast, we would’ve had room to split a second plate and a dessert. No credit cards accepted at the time of this post, but our dynamic duo were welcome in the restaurant.

Truffles, eggs and asparagus

An extra special dinner

Asparagini and asparagi extraFor a very special Mother’s Day, and we didn’t even need to go out to a restaurant for this. I don’t think any convincing is necessary when I say that this was really as good as it looks, and for those of you who may have never thought to keep a black truffle in the freezer, well, let me say for the record that it works! In December of last year I froze one of the black truffles that we got from Esselunga and forgot all about it until this past Sunday. Sitting in the fridge was a bundle of fat pink classe extra asparagus (right image) that we had bought at Mezzago’s sagra, and I needed to use up some eggs before the expiry date. I did NOT want a lot of work. Frittata? Quiche? Asparagus with hollandaise? Nah!

I owe the idea of this dish to the excellent asparagus and eggs that we ate at the sagra. Preparing the spears doesn’t require too much effort. First, trim at least an inch from the bottom, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin. Stand them up in a bundle and secure tightly with kitchen string. Place in a pot (the taller, the better) of lightly salted water that reaches up to a third of the asparagus. Bring water to a boil and when that happens, lower heat to a medium simmer; cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. If you don’t have a tall pot or asparagus steamer, make a foil “tent” to use as a cover. If that’s not an option, I don’t see why a regular vegetable steamer wouldn’t work as well.

Asparagus prep

Fry a few eggs in butter (I used olive oil and butter) until whites have set but the yolks still remain runny. Place on top of asparagus and garnish with sliced truffles. Serve with grated parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper.