The first time I had a truly fresh black truffle was in Perugia. Spaghetti with black truffles.
But who's counting?
It was our second to last meal in Italy. I hesitate to count the last one at the hotel by the airport...
If you swim in an ocean, waves of salt water filled your senses. The fresh salty air stays with you long after you've left the beach. And that's what having a fresh black truffle is like. Only, it's waves of the earth that rock you.
Musty, sensual ... downright sexy. They may be homely little creatures, but don't judge. These little black truffles flirt and charm and finally seduce.
After a snowy winter with cold temps below the usual frigid temperatures, I was not enamored of the outdoors. And so put nose-to-grindstone. And just wrote. With amazingly good results. My quirky And the Universe Didn't Blink was chosen as part of a Playwright's Tease evening in the Twin Cities - introducing Twin Cities playwrights to Twin Cities theatres (what a novel idea!). La Bella Cinderella won a playwrighting contest and will be touring the Prince George County Parks in Maryland this summer and Cap o' Rushes won another playwrighting contest and will be part of East Valley Children's Theatre season next year. (And I get to go to Arizona in the dead of the next Minnesota winter!) Heady stuff! Hence: the black truffle. I won't kid you - it's an investment.
The upside of using truffles is the recipes are just plain easy. The truffle does all the work - just by being.
Before cooking, I put Luce in jail.
Because he gets into things.
This is from Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia in Umbria. Aside from changing the shape of the pasta, I kept the recipe as is. I thought the truffles would stick better to the tagliatelle than the spaghetti. When you invest in a truffle - you don't waste.
You just boil your pasta and then stick it in a skillet and you're done. My kind of recipe.
Tagliatelle with Black Truffles (Tagliatelle ai Tartufi Neri)
2 fresh black truffles (1/3-1/2 ounce); can also use canned - don't shudder
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used a little less)
1 pound tagliatelle (or spaghetti or bucatini or fettuccine...)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pasta water
Grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese for passing
*I also used some black pepper (In Perugia - they also added Italian parsley and some chili pepper flakes)
I just wanted the truffle! So I left it plain.
The night before or the morning before:
Clean truffles gently. Then: slice thin or grate or shred or peel the truffles and put them in a shallow bowl. Pour some extra-virgin olive oil over them and let them sit overnight or all day covered with plastic wrap - at room temperature.
Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil from the truffles in a large skillet. (I didn't - I used fresh olive oil - I didn't have enough extra oil - the mushrooms soaked them up - so maybe be very generous when pouring your olive oil over the sliced truffles).
Cook the garlic very gently in the olive oil. (I warmed them for awhile and kept the heat on low heat).
Turn off heat and add the rest of the olive oil and the truffles.
Drain the spaghetti reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. (I used less olive oil and more pasta water.)
Add the drained pasta and pasta water to skillet. I added some black pepper. Toss. Again and again. Serve, passing cheese separately.
I've spent 18 months pondering the life of our universe - how a young girl might be comforted by the loss of a loved one if she understood how connected we all are to each other through it's presence. The truffle may not connect me to the universe but it does give you the earth. The beauty of it - is its taste is the song of the earth. I will be investing (without taking out a second mortgage) in the Oregon truffles - they don't travel as much and may be just fine for my needs. And I will be trying the jarred ones.
My truffle came from Urbani in New York City via Italy. It was quite good - but not as perfumed as the one in Perugia. Traveling does that to a mushroom. But no regrets - it capped a Siberian winter and welcomed spring. (I think it's coming - the ducks are back - looking at the frozen lakes and no doubt quacking expletives.)
Still pondering a blog for Luce - or a picture book. Wonder at the wisdom of giving him such an elegant name.
Secretly he's a Guido.