My first encounter with a lump of white truffle!
Food can sometimes be momentary art or it can be just pleasure. These moments of pleasure can hit you at expected locations or as a thunderbolt when you at least expect it. They can hit at gastronomic star places or in the simplest bodega anywhere in the world. But we are not as pleasantly surprised when it happens in a famous restaurant with many stars, as when in the simple dining place, lightning strikes and your taste buds experience a symphony of different flavors.
In autumn 2015, we traveled to Piedmont in Italy together with some good friends. Piedmont is famous for good food and our expectations were sky-high what food is concerned. Our first lunch on this trip should be at the winery, hotel and restaurant Villa Tiboldi.
As we walked up from the parking lot in the beautiful countryside with vineyards as far as we could see, expectations rose of a possible great dining experience. Meanwhile, warning bells rang in my head and I was reminded that I had so often been disappointed in just such places.
The farmyard with hotel and restaurant was beautiful and welcoming and we chose to sit outside in the lovely sun. We were the only guests and that should perhaps have been a warning that this was not so special after all. Nice and hospitable they were, and the cooled, fresh white wine tasted lovely. So we enjoyed the refreshing wine while we studied the menu.
I decided on two dishes and may be a dessert to finish. First, I ordered calf tartar with white truffle followed by risotto, also with white truffle. I had in fact never eaten fresh, white truffle before.
A cheese clock was placed on the table and inside there was a dirty white lump that was surprisingly a truffle. Our charming waiter informed that the lump behind the glass was 17 grams and cost 4 euros per gram. Well, I thought, I suppose they cut some slices of this truffle and then they weigh what is left and I will only pay for what I’ve eaten.
Calf tartar with truffle tasted like something from heaven and the waiter had only just cut off a few grams and sprinkled it across the dish. Risotto can look incredibly dull, like a plate of porridge. But good risotto tastes delicious. And precisely at this moment I had my experience of momentary food art. My friend Robert had also ordered risotto and the waiter took the truffle lump of 14-15 grams in one hand, cutting the iron in the other and distributed all along the two small plates.
An ever so briefly second I was thinking economy. But then heavenly fragrances rose up to the sensory organs in my brain and I was lost. This small plate of rice, sauce, wine and white truffle made me euphoric and happy. The flavor was indescribable. The girls on the other side of the table was more beautiful than ever, the sun was shining and I was more drunk than one glass of white wine would suggest.
I loved Italy, Piedmont, the world and the whole mankind, especially my friends who had taken me here to enjoy the best meal I had during 2015. Yes, perhaps during my entire life.