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Friday, August 22, 2014

Umbrian Truffles

                                                  Fettucine with Umbria's Black Truffles

Summer is coming to a close.   In Umbria, that means the season for its precious black truffles is also ending.   Every ristorante  in Umbria is now offering a “Tartufo” menu:  bruschetta with local olive oil and truffles, truffled cheese,  pasta of every shape and size served with shaved truffles on top (cooking destroys the delicate taste of truffles), risotto crowned with shaved truffles, their version of steak tartare topped with truffles, beef or veal covered with a truffle-infused sauce.  Umbrian pizzerias feature truffle pizzas.   Even truffle gelato is sold at Umbria’s pasticcerias.

What exactly is a truffle?  A truffle is an exotic fungus, a kind of distant relative of the wild mushroom.  They are one of the world’s most expensive culinary items.  Up until recently, truffles were only found in Italy.  Now, Oregon and even China are trying their hands at truffle farming, but so far, none can compete with Italy.

Umbria is world famous for its summer truffles.  These prized culinary morsels are the black variety.  Like their cousins, the white truffle from the northern Piedmont district, Umbria’s black truffles grow underground in symbiosis with the roots of trees such as oaks, hazelnuts and chestnuts.  While the white Piedmontese truffle is much more aromatic (and expensive), Umbria’s black rendition offers a good substitute for those who cannot wait for Piedmont's white truffle---which does not mature until winter.

Wine-Knows will be visiting Umbria in June 2015 just in time for the beginning of their truffle season.   Truffles are hunted with specially-trained truffle-sniffing dogs.  We’ve scheduled a truffle hunt into the forest with a truffle hunter and his dog, followed by a truffle dinner featuring the finds of our hunt.  There are just two more spaces left for this gourmet extravaganza.   For more information about the food lovers tour visit

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