Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Night in Umbria with my First Truffle

Shaved onto a delicately scrambled egg, my first truffle tasted like dirt. That’s not quite right—let’s try this: it tasted of earth—the earthiest, woodsiest, richest fungus I’ve had. Luckily for her, the woman waiting in line behind me looked a bit like my grandma, or I wouldn’t have had any qualms about blocking her access and stealing her plate of truffled eggs.

The shaved fennel salad and the fresh figs were my favorites.

This truffle came to me by way of my friend Kelly, who generously invited J and I to an Umbria tasting tour sponsored by various Italian trade promoters at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Umbria, the only landlocked region of Italy, has plenty of gustatory treasures to share with the world; in addition to the truffles we sampled regional cheese, pasta and artisanal olive oils. However, the centerpiece of the event was the region’s wine.

Our favorite discussion was with a representative of Vino Bravo wines, who passionately outlined his company’s vision when we stopped at his table: they only import wines made from grapes indigenous to Italy. They focuses on small producers and grapes the likes of which a wine neophyte like myself has never heard of, and bring them to many restaurants and stores in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere. At this table we sampled Antonelli's Sagrantino di Montefalco and Montefalco Rosso, a Sagrantino blend; read more about the robust Sagrantino grape here.

This event was part of a wider promotion by trade officials from Umbria that continues across the city through the 15th. You can find special Umbrian-focused menus at Ago, Caffe Roma, Drago, Enoteca Drago, Grace, Il Grano, La Botte, La Terza, Piccolo Ristorante, Patina, Sor Tino, Valentino and Wilson.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I wish I had known you were going! I wanted to, but didn't have a date ... it sounds like it was great!

Anonymous said...

Hey Erin,

I've been meaning to comment for a while, and looks like I picked the perfect post for it. I had my first taste of both truffles and fois gras this year, and believe you me, they changed my life. Great site. I've added you to my link list.

- Chubbypanda

chicopants said...

Looking cool and Italianate:)
Sounds like a really fun outing. Thanks for the links too...that is very cool to show. What'd you eat for dessert there? I've had truffle ice cream...people go nuts...
so do you not like truffles?
doesn't sound like you dug it. haha, get it.
IF everyone is trying fois and truffles, I gotta recommend to taste smoked herring, bread, and butter. Do it all in one mouthful. That's a strong flavor I love. Such serious flavors! Strong...good with a drink.
A few shavings of that truffle go a long way, huh...:) Thanks for your Umbria post:)
amy at

Erin S. said...

KT--Bummer! I didn't realize my friend Kelly had invited other bloggers until we got there and she told me, otherwise I would have gotten in touch with folks.

Chubbypanda--so glad you commented! I had my first foie gras earlier this year as well at AOC and enjoyed it immensely. however, I had some at a chichilala place in Buenos Aires and I think it made me ill, unfortunately. Hopefully, I'll get over that and be able to try it again in states soon!

Chicopants--I did like the truffle a lot actually even though (or perhaps because?) it reminds me of dirt. I've never done smoked herring, but I grew up eating my grandma's smoked trout which I loved.

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