Italy plays a poker of white and black truffles

The partnership between Appennino food group and the Cereas resulted in a dinner that enhanced all the five different edible varieties of a unique fungus. This can only happen in Italy, and only in December. Here's why

12-01-2022

Perhaps it's because I was lucky enough to be hired by Il Giornale when its reigns were still held strong by Indro Montanelli, and I would feed on Controcorrente, his short commentaries on the first page, but I've always admired those who avoid easy choices as much as possible and follow the road less taken. Luigi Dattilo is one of these people. I admire him because as the owner in Savigno (Bologna) of Appennino Food Group, he rejects living truffles according to the more popular rules. He sells 32 tons each year and even for this reason at one point, basically right from the start, he decided that it would be penalising to focus on the precious white one. Why so? Its season lasts only three months, from October to December, too little for him who, though adoring white truffle, doesn't deny the sincere dignity of the other types, from the pallid white to the pitch black.

The treasure chest of truffles at Cerea's

The treasure chest of truffles at Cerea's

These, however, raise an issue: «They must be studied and understood. The most frequent mistake one can make is to take White truffle as a benchmark to judge all sorts of truffles. This will lead all the others to fail, when you only need to pay a little attention to get the best out of them».

It's very true, buy you must always consider that "little attention". It may well be a little, or a lot. On December 2nd, last year, it meant a lot because at da Vittorio in Brusaporto, this became a topic of discussion between Dattilo himself and Chicco and Bobo Cerea. And around them, a theme that went far beyond white truffle, an approach so strong it gave life to the First Vertical tasting of Truffles.

Tartare of fassona piemontese with Beaufort and marsala sauce, a charming delicacy from da Vittorio in Brusaporto (Bergamo): And the truffle? Macrosporum or Nero Liscio

Tartare of fassona piemontese with Beaufort and marsala sauce, a charming delicacy from da Vittorio in Brusaporto (Bergamo): And the truffle? Macrosporum or Nero Liscio

The last month of the year is unique, compared to all the others preceding it, and this happens only in Italy: all the five types of edible truffle are available at the same time, many of which are also available in different times too, but never together. In order: Macrosporum or Smooth black truffle, lesser known and used, it can be found in many Italian regions, often the same where you can find White truffle, which overshadows it regularly; Aestivum uncinatum chatin variety, it's picked both in France and here; Malanosporum or Black Périgord truffle, it's the best among the black ones, the pride of France, Italy and Spain, and also grows in Australia; White truffle or Tuber magnatum Pico, the king of truffles, a synonym of Alba and Acqualagna; and finally Brumale of the moscathum de Ferry variety, which can be found basically all over Italy.

Truffle Burger from Bobo and Chicco Cerea

Truffle Burger from Bobo and Chicco Cerea

The Cerea brothers have enhanced them, pairing them with a Tartare of fassona piemontese with Beaufort and marsala sauce; Hake with hazelnut custard; Cappuccino with mushrooms and mousse of potatoes; Classic and non-classic first courses, that is to say Tagliolini and Crespella; Truffle burger, for which they mixed all the black truffles, and finally Bianco Latte. In terms of sublimation of the truffle planet, I cannot recall a series of equal quality and variety of interpretations. Perhaps the challenge should be shifted to completely unsettling ideas, to recipes that are distant from the classic, that would stir in the guests the doubt connected with lots of innovation, before tasting something: what did they do in the kitchen? Has the chef gone mad? It could well be, but with other ingredients, possibly cheap.

Bianco latte with Brumale truffle

Bianco latte with Brumale truffle

Experimenting with truffles is expensive and this curbs many because if you grate it on eggs and butter, on risotto or taglierini you can rest assured, and who wants to give up to money?

But being a careful chef is only one of the curbs to the experiments. The other is caused by those who do business in these vocated areas, harvester, distributors, shopkeepers, and restaurateurs who have every interest in preserving the myth of White truffle and of his black cousin, without ever clearing completely the fog wrapped around this world, which counts around one hundred different species of which only five are edible. Luigi Dattilo goes against the tide, and I respect him for this because he sheds light on these masterpieces that are born in the dark soil. Which not always is the one that is proclaimed on the ideal line that joins Piedmont, Tuscany and the Marche.

A souvenir photo of a dinner on the 2nd of December 2021 that made history in the truffle universe. Left to right, Luigi Dattilo, Paolo Marchi and Chicco Cerea

A souvenir photo of a dinner on the 2nd of December 2021 that made history in the truffle universe. Left to right, Luigi DattiloPaolo Marchi and Chicco Cerea

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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