Don't upstage white truffles, say chefs

Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:17pm EST
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By Svetlana Kovalyova

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - White truffles, the underground fungi lauded for their delicate taste, may cost a fortune but chefs and connoisseurs in Italy, a major growing region, say they are best twinned with simple, peasant food.

White truffles, also known as the kings' food or kitchen diamonds, crown menus of haute cuisine restaurants around the world but rather than gourmet garnishing, chefs suggest bread, pasta and potatoes bring out the best of white truffles.

"It is traditional dishes, not fancy ones, that make truffle stand out. Nothing should dominate the aroma of truffle," said Tino Colla, truffle lover and maker of top-shelf red wine Barolo from Piemonte, Italy's white truffle heartland.

His best choice is to sprinkle a few marble-like truffle shavings over fried eggs, pasta tagliatelle, cheese fondue or raw veal from Piemonte, Colla told Reuters at a truffle tasting in a luxury hotel in Milan as truffle season was in full swing.

Sergio Mei Tomasi, Italy's Chef of the Year in 1998, added scrambled eggs, thin noodles tagliolini, risotto with Parmigiano, mashed potato, veal chops and meat salad to the list of dishes which go best with truffles.

"To make truffle stand out the dishes should be succulent, based on cheese, cream, butter. It is important that they are steaming, because the heat helps to bring out the aroma," Mei told Reuters.

Each of the four main truffle growing regions of Italy has its own truffle specialties. The same goes for the wines which accompany a truffle meal.

If you are in the northern region of Piemonte, your best bet would be its famous full-bodied reds Barolo, Barbaresco or Dolcetto d'Alba, Mei said.   Continued...

<p>Auction organizer Giselle Oberti smells a 1.08kg white truffle from Marche in downtown Rome November 25, 2008. The truffle will be sold during a satellite-linked charity auction in Macau. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>