Life's pleasures of living in Italy
More about Truffles and Ricotta - What's There Not to Like?
As we explore and learn more about the world of truffles, we are of course doing a number of taste tests along the way. I must admit that a number of years ago when we first moved to Polinago, I tasted a truffle mixture in a small glass jar, which I was given to use in the making of a frittata.
From that time, I decided I didn't particularly like it that the taste was too pungent for my liking. However, I now realise that what I was given was a product which relied very little on the use of real truffles and more on so called infusion of truffle oil. This product is one which probably has price appeal to most members of the public, but very little to do with real truffles and more to do with the probable addition of an oil, which bears no relationship with an actual truffle and perhaps a scrape of truffle in it.
We were fortunate to once again visit Flavio at his property in Predappio and this time he insisted on hosting and making lunch prepared by him and served outside in his garden. In this relaxed rustic setting we were joined by the newly installed mayor of Predappio as well as Flavio's wife Laura and their daughter Giorgia.
Flavio truly spoilt us serving first toasts smothered in gently fried fresh porcini mushrooms, which prepared our taste buds for what was to follow - delicious scrambled eggs with bits of the famous wild white truffle, the delicate flavour marrying with the perfectly cooked scrambled eggs.We could have stopped here, but no: next our palates were assaulted with the richness of maccheroni mixed with a delicious sauce of fresh black truffles, and even as our stomachs groaned most of us ended up having two servings! By this time, I was wishing that I had worn my loose waisted baggy jeans so as to accommodate the delicious dishes being served. We were still not allowed to capitulate as the pasta was followed by pork fillets delicately fried with more white truffles and some cream - by now although my waistline was screaming STOP, the flavours were so delightfully light and fresh it was necessary to have just another small helping! Not to be outdone, the delightful Laura had prepared a deliciously light cake baked with minimal flour and pineapple which in its lightness, offset the previous courses. All this was finished off with fresh cherries picked from the nearby tree.
Throughout all this Flavio was in and out of his amazing kitchen - the kitchen bench is made by him from one large tree trunk sliced through, polished and varnished and attached to the wall with a smaller trunk to hold it up! A man of boundless energy he is also busy restoring the old farmhouse behind his home to host guests. The work he is doing is tasteful and when completed, it will be the perfect place to stay and have fun hunting and eating truffles.
Due to the heat of the day and quality of the food, we didn't indulge as much as we could have in the Sangiovese wine, also grown and made by Flavio. I suggest that if you want to have a truly unique and amazing experience, learn all there is to know about truffles and how best to cook them, or just want to eat them, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us organise a day tour. You won’t be sorry!
As if a day with truffles was not enough over indulgence for us, on returning to Polinago and Cherry House, the next day the town was celebrating its first ever Ricotta Festival. The organising committee of our local ProLoco really did themselves proud, as did our Casolare (Cheesemaker) Paolo Redeghieri, who set up in the piazza the large copper pot to demonstrate how ricotta was made in days gone by. The ricotta was made in an enormous copper container over the embers of an open fire, using heat to create the steam required to slowly and gently bring the whey to the correct boiling point.
Today the ricotta is made at the Caseficio Santa Maria here in Polinago along with our delicious the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. While the parmesan cheese is also made with a combination of steam and heat in giant conical containers, the ricotta is made in what looks like a giant saucepan and seems to look like a giant capuccino with the cheese particles rising to the surface of the whey and then being scooped up and placed directly into the plastic containers, from which the excess liquid is slowly drained. The ricotta produced in the piazza was as creamy and delicious as that bought direct from the caseficio.
The mothers and grandmothers of the local school children joined in the day by demonstrating how fresh tortellone are made and selling them with 25 on a tray. Guess what we had for lunch. It is such a simple dish with the fresh handmade tortellone filled with ricotta and spinach being put in boiling, salted water and the minute they rise to the surface (2 minutes or so), they are gently strained, drained and served with a little melted butter and fresh sage leaves. Light, delicate and delicious. We do admit that after the truffle blow out from the previous day, this was all we ate for lunch.
Sometimes it feels that the longer we live in Polinago, the more likely it will be that we may die from over eating. It really is hard to say 'no' to all the many delicious local foods available here.
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