Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Locanda Locatelli, White Truffle

Dear White Truffle,

There is no other food closer to my heart than you. Your strong distinctive aroma is what I love most. Its what I think heaven must smell like. A past love introduced me to the white truffle, almost 10 years ago, when he poured white truffle oil over his bowl of rice. While it was a short-lived romance (with the boy not the truffle!), my encounter with the white truffle would prove fateful.

A little drizzle of truffle oil can transform a simple dish into something wonderfully exquisite and luxurious. I use it on everything from risotto, garlic spaghetti to mac and cheese. Simple dishes with singular tastes work best because of how overpowering the truffle aroma is. For most of the year, I rely on truffle infused olive oils and salts to satisfy my truffle cravings. But when truffle season (October-November) arrives, all I can think about is fresh truffle shavings.

White truffles are an expensive delicacy and their price reflects their rarity. You don’t grow truffles, you find them. How? It’s like treasure hunting, with the help of your dog or… your pig. Dogs are preferred because pigs love truffle and eat what they find (oink oink). The truffles are found growing near trees such as oak, poplar and beech. The best come from Alba, Italy. 2 years ago, Selfridges did a 50% off sale on Alba white truffle and I still paid 5 pounds per 100 gram. It was the first time I had bought fresh truffles and so had no idea how much to buy. What I ended up buying was too small to give off any significant aroma to my porcini risotto; I had to jazz it up with truffle oil. Lesson learned-- Fresh shavings are a bit more delicate and subtle compared to oils and salts, so you need a lot of fresh truffle shavings to create the same level of intensity you get with truffle oil.

We visited Locanda Locatelli last Saturday for its white truffle menu. I took one look at the white truffle menu and one whiff of the potent aroma that drifted past and decided I would go all out and have white truffle for both courses. I picked the scrambled eggs with white truffle for starter and egg tagliatelle with white truffle for my main. We were told that the truffle season has been good this year and that we would be served truffles from Umbria, Italy.

The eggs came naked. Then a waiter brought over the white truffle and a small set of scales. Weighing the truffle first, he then set it on a grater above my plate and told me to tell him when to stop. Fragrant flakes of truffle snowed down on the yellow blanket of eggs. The dish was creamy and full-bodied. Served with crispy toasted bread, it proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the truffle shavings.

The Tagliatelle paled in comparison. The homemade tagliatelle had the perfect texture, but dressed too humbly, it tasted a bit bland after the richness of the scrambled eggs. 

Drink of the night: truffled green apple martini

Perhaps ordering two truffle courses back to back was not such a good idea. In hindsight, I should have gone for their famous chestnut tagliatelle with wild mushroom (divine!) and ordered the truffle desert. There goes my once-a-year encounter with fresh white truffles. It was short but sweet, see you next year.

Love always,
Locanda Locatelli on Urbanspoon

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