In the UK, truffles are often seen as a bit of a gastronomic delicacy. However, in truffle growing regions such as Italy, truffles are an essential indeed traditional, element of local cuisine, particularly in northern regions like Tuscany.
Cue the San Miniato Truffle Festival, an annual event held in the small, hilltop town of San Miniato near Pisa. The origins of the festival date back to 1969 has evolved over the years to become internationally renowned as a showcase for gastronomy in Italy. The traditional white truffle has been joined by local wines, cheeses and other artisan products from across the region to highlight the delights of Italian food to a wider audience, from culinary experts and restaurateurs to tourists and locals who simply enjoy good food.
But what exactly is a truffle, and how do you use it in the kitchen?
The truffle is a kind of mushroom that grows underground. Did you know that? Hence the need for highly trained dogs or pigs that help farmers harvest the fungus. While the star of the show at the San Miniato Truffle Festival is the white truffle, this is just one of a wide range of truffle species, including black and summer, or burgundy varieties.
As you’d expect, the truffle flavour varies according to the exact species. However, in general, truffles are buttery and pungent. Truffles have a touch of sweetness, meaning that you need only use them sparingly. They shave or slice raw and serve over steaming bowls of pasta or fresh salads in Italy. You may also see truffle oil available, which is an alternative for adding truffle flavour to dishes.
Modern chefs have delighted taste buds by developing a wide range of fresh, innovative dishes using the truffle. Ever tried fettuccine with sea bream tartare and black truffle? Or how about egg yolk ravioli with truffle and parmesan? The world is your oyster (or truffle, to be exact!)
As a truffle gastronomic delicacy is something very special, we don’t tend to include them on our regular menu here at Sanzio restaurant in Willesden Green, the best Italian restaurant in North West London. However, they are available by special order if any customers would like to try out these delicious little gems! If not, don’t worry – we use only the finest Italian products in all our dishes to ensure authentic flavours made to traditional Italian recipes. We like to think that we offer our customers the best of Italy in London.
Buon Appetito! 🙂
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