Cooking with the item at the top of my culinary bucket list is an experience that will be hard to top!
Ever since my husband and I moved to Vancouver I’ve been taking advantage of all the things a thriving metropolis has to offer. My favourite of which, is access to an incredible ingredient – pungent and prized – that I have never been able to access on the East Coast…. Fresh Italian Truffles!
This article isn’t so much a recipe article, as it is a love letter to fresh truffles. A lot of people don’t really understand my fascination with this little fungi, but I think I’m hooked on them because they are rare and wild. They’re extremely challenging to farm. They have an unparalleled scent that is almost impossible to describe. They’re difficult to detect by humans – and need to be sniffed out of the earth by trained dogs and pigs….And of course, they’re delicious!
I had my first real fresh truffle last winter at Lupo. It was a Black Périgord from France that was shaved over ribbons of delicious handmade fettuccine. The smell was completely intoxicating. I fell in love immediately, and it kick started a year of hunting down various kinds of truffles to learn about the differences in taste, aroma, and price.
Now it was time to experiment!
It started off with the white summer truffle, which I was able to get at Bosa Foods. I shaved it over a mushroom risotto packed with fresh morels and chanterelles. Next, I sprinkled some over organic free-range scrambled eggs. I carried truffles into the woods on a camping trip to toss with fresh buttery pasta. The smell of truffles filled the entire main floor of our townhouse when Australian Black Périgord came into season. I used them to smother homemade tarragon and lobster ravioli. Each new truffle that came into season had a stronger smell and an earthier flavour than the last.
I was ecstatic about the sudden influx of an ingredient I’ve always been curious about. I’ve read books about truffles and spent hours researching how they grow. If we go through the effort of training dogs and pigs to dig them out of the dirt, they must be good! And, as delicious as every truffle I tasted this year was, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my culinary bucket list item: The Italian White Alba Truffle! The KING of truffles!
I was so anxious I would over complicate it and mess up my experience. So, I reached out to the Executive Chef at one of Vancouver’s most popular fine dining restaurants: David Hawksworth from Hawksworth Restaurant! He was kind enough to give me guidance – and stressed the importance of keeping it simple. When you’re cooking with such an incredible, luxurious ingredient – there is no need to add layers of flavour. Let the flavour of the truffle speak for itself.
So, I did.
Cue: Parmigiano Reggiano Tagliatelle With Fresh White Alba Truffle
In January, I’ll finish off my “Year of the truffle” with a fresh Black Périgord truffle from France. The same truffle that was so delicious it resulted in all of the recipes above. We’ll see if it’s able to top the taste of the white alba truffle, but something tells me, this one sets the bar!
I did some research on the perfect wine to pair with fresh white alba truffles. Not surprisingly – red wine was off the list. All recommendations suggested a dry white wine – preferably from Italy. It made sense, since truffles and Italian wine have spent centuries growing up in the same soil. Last night, my husband and I ran out and picked up a beautiful bottle of wine imported from Tuscany. And it’s a perfect match!
Parmigiano Reggiano Tagliatelle With Fresh White Alba Italian Truffle
- 1 2/3 Cup 00 Flour
- 3 Large Free Range Organic Eggs The oranger the yolk, the better!
- Pinch of Salt
- Small Glug of Olive Oil
- 1 TBSP Unsalted Butter
- 1 Splash of Cream
- 1 Healthy Handful of Fresh Grated Parmigiano Reggiano About 1/4 Cup
- Freshly Cracked Peppercorn
- Additional Parmigiano Reggiano
- Fresh Shaved White Alba Truffle
- Add flour to a bowl and create a well in the center.
- Crack in three eggs, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt
- Using a fork, whisk the flour and eggs together, starting in the center and working your way out.
- Drop the dough on to the counter, and knead for about 3 minutes, until smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for about 45 minutes
- Roll your dough out, and feed it through a pasta machine.
- Add to a pot of boiling salt water
- Melt butter and room temperature cream in a pan.
- Add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and melt, whisking to combine.
- Remove the pasta from the salt water and toss in the cream, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano. Using tongs – move it to a pasta plate or a bowl.
- Sprinkle additional fresh cheese and cracked peppercorn.
- Using a truffle shaver, shave a generous amount of fresh truffle
- Stir, and enjoy!