Mumbai, Mashed Potatoes or Tuscan Truffles?

I know… we are full-on into winter now, and fall has fallen, but I must have a few last words on one important fall festival in Tuscany. Patience, I’ll get to it.

Here in the States, November and December are big eating months. Starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Years, we certainly get our fill of standard holiday fare. Being married to a vegetarian, Thanksgiving has become a yearly source of angst. The debate (umm…. fight) started on the way to my sisters house. My husband, Bill, declared that Thanksgiving food offered him nothing but mashed potatoes and salad and he was, “sick, sick, sick of it!”  He declared that next year he intends to invite all of his vegetarian friends over for Indian food.  Not a patient woman I replied in a spicier way, but essentially, “No problemo amico, start working on perfecting your curry recipes, as I will not be hosting these vegetarian friends.”

Okay, I get it vegetarians.... this turkey does look quite obscene!

At dinner, after several glasses of wine, Bill announced to my family that he would not be attending anymore Thanksgiving celebrations, as he would be in Mumbai (he’s a pilot) and would be enjoying authentic Indian food in the motherland. My family toasted to Bill’s last Thanksgiving and we all laughed heartily, because what else do you do (beside drink heavily) when you are married to an eccentric?! Always high entertainment that guy, especially to the family and friends that rarely see him.

As for me, next year I will skip the Thanksgiving debate of mashed potatoes and Mumbai and instead head to the Tuscan truffle festival in San Giovanni D’Asso, a village outside of Siena. One of the smaller truffle festivals, it still remains one of the best. A hot bed for truffle hunting, San Giovanni D’Asso even boast it’s own truffle museum and a village festival that involves the entire community for a few weeks every November.

November and December are the prime months for fresh truffles (tartufo) and there’s nothing boring about that flavor. Truffles have a rich, musky, earthy, pungent and even sexy scent. Truffles are loved by food connoisseurs because of their strong scent, closely resembling pherhormones and are thought to possess aphrodisiac powers….YES, YESSS!

Delizioso is all I can say… I crave the flavor of a dish of homemade risotto drizzled in a pecorino sauce with shaved tartufo. This is about as close to heaven as it gets and a visit to the restaurant, La Porta in the hill town of Monticchiello will allow you that slice of culinary heaven. Ask the owner Daria (the goddess of wine and food) for that fabulous signature dish if it is in season. La Porta is an wonderful dining experience and I would be happy to help arrange a cooking class and wine pairing for your family or group.

To most people, truffles may resemble a potato like tuber or even a strange organic plant from a Hogwarts botany class, but the misshapen, wart like truffle is the equivalent of diamonds in culinary circles. Today prices depend upon the variety, but you can expect to pay approximately $140 per once for truffles. In 2007 a casino owner from Mancau paid a record breaking price of $330,000 for a 3.3 pound white truffle found outside of Pisa (obviously pre recession)!

The truffle hunt involves area truffle experts, trained dogs and a knowledge of the right tree roots and hiding grounds for the elusive tuber. More details on the truffle hunt and specialty dishes next year after my 2011 Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Tuscany. I am hoping my brother, who is a chef, will join me.

Oh fall, you may have fallen… BUT…. there is always next autumn in Tuscany and I plan on being there to enjoy the tartufo bianco, it’s fall festivals and many traditions surrounding this glorious food.

12/16/2010 04:42 am | Share | No Comments
 

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