Truffle, you either love it or hate it..... And i can understand both sides of the coin as the first time my nose came in contact with it was years ago, thanks to my dad who was proudly putting few thin shavings of white truffle on his fried egg saying "Max questa é la morte del Tartufo (Max, this is the death of the truffle)"...I said "Thanks Dad but the smell is......" Well i made myself try this very smelly according to my dad real delicacy, fingers squeezing my nose, mouth open and.....it was unbelievably deliciously delicate, slightly pungent but so nice....."I Told you so......"
Years later i still thank my dad to actually sort of forcing me to try it and that's why at the first opportunity we organised a Tour around the Truffle Hunt to discover the other secrets surrounding this delicacy that fetches prices like white gold...
We stayed in a very nice B&B and Agriturismo Cá Virginia in the region of Le Marche that like part of Emilia-Romagna still has unspoiled areas where rarely tourist set foot. Although middle October the weather was very nice and very warm and this allowed us to still enjoy the outside pool though not heated still quite pleasant and on the first day we set off to meet in the secret place with the truffle hunter and his dog; after a quick change of shoes we followed the man who released his trusted springer spaniel who immediately started wondering and snuffling around the trees leaving us puzzled as not exactly knowing what was going to happened when....and all of a sudden here we go the dog full of excitement started digging frantically near a tree with his front paws with the hunter desperately trying to pull him back to avoid the dog to break the truffle. So the hunter carefully keeping the dog behind him searched and dug carefully with a purpose made pen knife looking for the white truffle and we could all easily recognise the smell coming from the little hole in the ground and after few minute we were holding about £200/300 pounds worth of truffle in the palm of our hands. We visited family run workshop/factory in the little village of Aqualagna world-wide famous and renown for its truffle where we were shown how they are used to produce many other products. We were also shown a white truffle weighting about 500gr worth over 1,000 euros that was already destined to delight the table of some famous actor......Lunch of course with Tagliatelle with butter & truffle, crostini with different truffle sauces all washed down with a good glass of locally produced white and red wine.
The Truffle bonanza went on when on a Sunday we went to the beautiful Sant'AgataFeltria medieval village where all the cobble street where packed with food stalls selling the most amazing delicacies, craft and artisan stalls, wine stalls and in the main square right outside the medieval castle 10/15 stalls selling fresh black & white truffle and other produce involving the precious tuber...Well it was a feast that will live long in our memories including the picnic on the green where we all share all the different findings to delight our palate.
The tour carried on the next day with a visit to a fantastic Wine Producer "Cantine Fiorini" where Carla the 4th generation still follows the traditions that have been passed on. Cantine Fiorini is another example of how old traditions go can go hand in hand with the innovative thinking of the new generations and the result is sublime. We had a light lunch (if you believe that in Italy actually ever existed the words light lunch) and visited the Vin Santaia where grapes are hanged on metal on metal bars in the loft of the main 17th century house and left to naturally dried until they become almost like raisins, then pressed and the wine will then mature in small oak barrel for at least 24 months producing a gold nectar.. After the morning visit we proceeded to the small B&B set right in the middle of the vineyards where we had our cookery lesson concentrating on learning how to make the local "Crescia" similar to the Piadina Romagnola "But Different", Tagliatelle and the ragout sauce to go with it, followed by the simple but delicious recipe of Pollo alla Cacciatora "Chicken with Cacciatora Sauce"; in the evening we all sat down around the tables, all 22 of us,enjoying the food we cooked, the superb wines and sharing the laughs and great moments of another Genuine Italian Food Tour that has left in all of us indelible memories.