White truffle flan is a great way to start off a holiday meal and represents everything that is great in Italian regional cooking. A simple preparation, with relatively few but pristine and highest quality ingredients and the perception of a difficult undertaking that none of your guests need to know about. The magic of white truffles.
Yields 8 – 4oz. souffle cup portions
WHITE TRUFFLE PARMIGIANO SFORMATO
1 quart Heavy cream
2.5 Cups Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 T white truffle paste (optional…but preferable!)
4 whole eggs
4 T all purp. Flour
Salt to taste
White truffles, fresh (avail. at Via Umbria) to garnish
Heat Cream in a saucepan, add the cheese and blend. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, crack eggs, whisk, add the flour and whisk some more until combined. Add the truffle paste to cream mixture and slowly pour cream into egg mixture. Add the nutmeg and adjust seasoning with salt.
Meanwhile, get souffle cups, and spray with non stick spray. Ladle in the mixture. On top of stove, pour approx. ¾ ” of water into a shallow stove top-ready baking dish. Place souffle cups in the water bath and cover the whole pan in plastic wrap. Cook on stovetop at medium high heat for about 30 minutes, steaming the flans. They are done when the mixture does not jiggle like jello. Serve warm. Unmold from dishes if desired.
Shave white truffles on top of the sformato and serve with crostini and aged Balsamico.
Thanks to the heavy rain we had late spring now the truffles are sooooo perfumed and tasty! The real name of this truffle is “Tuber Aestivum” but local people call it “scorzone” and that’s the way we like it too.
It’s an exciting experience to go on a truffle hunt, the weather seems to be favourable and we hope to find many this summer!
Pippo—our truffle dog—is at the forefront despite his age (he has just turned 13!!!). He cannot wait to go out in the woods with his master hunter Saverio, always looking forward to the next adventure and please don’t chase him or he’ll run faster and faster away from us!
, Truffle Dog
After the hunt we’ll find out many cool recipes to use the fresh truffle the traditional (and the unconventional) way!
This year Gabriella is making a lot of Frittata! It’s a very popular dish because it’s easy, delicious and also good for vegetarian and gluten free diets! You can enjoy it hot or cool, sliced liked that as we served it yesterday….yummy!
“A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus, predominantly one of the many species of the genus Tuber. Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi and are therefore usually found in close association with tree roots. Spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi”
Today we met Pippo – a truffle dog who has served his master well the last 13 years. He was a champion white truffle hunter but is getting a bit white himself around the snout and beginning to slow down. Not quite ready to retire, his owner has farmed him out as a black truffle hunter, a challenging job but not quite as physically exhausting as hunting the rarer white truffle. Pippo makes a great black truffle hunter. For Pippo hunting for truffles is an adventure, a job you can see that he enjoys. Its pretty simple, go for a walk with your master. Keep your nose to the ground constantly sniffing, searching for the scent of a truffle that is released when the truffle is ripe. Dig up the ground – gently but diligently. Dig deep until you find the truffle and then wait patiently for your reward – not the truffle but a treat from your master. For Pippo the truffle the hunt is a game.
In hunting for truffles the hunter is important but the dog is key. Without the dog you simply cannot find truffles. Truffles grow underground and while they sometimes leave clues as to their whereabouts above ground, they can’t reliably be spotted. Although they’re called tubers, they aren’t like a potato where you can see the plant above them. Truffles truly have to be sniffed out. Which is where Pippo comes in.
Returning to the home of our hosts for the day, the Bianconis, we meet their other dog – Eddie. Eddie is a high energy dog who as a puppy was always getting into trouble. A loveable naughty dog with needle-like teeth and a disposition to nip. How many times in a day can you say “Eddie, No.” Watching Eddie while enjoying our truffle feast, Gavin, sitting next to me points out that Eddie is having all of the fun while Pippo got to do all the work.
While work is fun for Pippo it still is work. He has been working his entire life and is now one step away from retiring. He gets well taken care of and he gets to eat, or at least smell truffles everyday. He is one happy dog.
Eddie has never worked a day in his life. He could have been trained as a truffle dog – but he wasn’t focused and pretty much not interested. His reward? He gets well taken care of and gets to eats truffles every day. He is one happy dog.
We had a very successful day today – we found about €600 worth of black truffles. Or should we say Pippo found about €600 worth of truffles and we sat back and enjoyed them.
I recently started watching the Netflix series Stranger Things and I really like it. The show, which is set in rural Indiana in the 1980s follows a group of kids seeking to find their missing friend, and involves a secret government program that punches a hole through parallel universes in order to engage in some cold war spying, only to unexpectedly unleash an incredibly evil monster. Some great acting, especially from the kids, some creative writing and some compelling story lines. I would definitely say it is worth a watch.
I mention this because Via Umbria has been engaged in its own project to bridge parallel universes. And far from unleashing monsters, we have only spread deliciousness and joy.
Those two universes are, of course, Italy and America and we are engaged in an experiment to connect the two. We do that by creating an authentic Italian experience in Georgetown. And we do that by hosting American guests on semi annual food and wine tours at our farm house in Umbria, immersing them in the authentic Umbria that we have come to know and love.
On Saturday, we arrived in Umbria with nine guests in tow to kick off our fall Food and Wine tours, and less than 36 hours later, I dare say that they have already begun to understand and share our love of Umbria. Yesterday we introduced them to the wines of Umbria, the same Grechettos and Montefalco rossos and Sagrantinos we import and sell at Via Umbria. They met Elena DiFilippo at her organic and biodynamic cantina and drank wine with her, and will welcome Elena’s husband Roberto when he visits Via Umbria this spring. They dined on a homecooked dinner by Chiara Cicogna and heard her speak of her family’s cashmere business, and will join Chiara and us in Washington on November 16 when Chiara exhibits a selection of cashmere treasures at a special holiday trunk show at Via Umbria. This morning they experienced truffle hunting under glorious blue skies near Citta di Castello with our dear friends Saverio and Gabriella Bianconi, who are readying to ship the day’s spoils back to Via Umbria to take center stage at a pair of special truffle dinners coming up next week.
Nearly a year after reopening our doors as an Italian market, café, restaurant, enoteca and retail store, we are realizing our dream of truly connecting the worlds we inhabit in Washington and in Umbria. This week our food and wine tour group will dine at le Delizie del Borgo, a restaurant lovingly operated by our friends Simone Proietti-Pesci and Ombretta Ubaldi in Bevagna and next month Ombretta, a certified sommelier with an unmatched appreciation for Umbrian wines will return with us to Washington to host a series of special wine dinners at Via Umbria. Later in the month Simone will join us in Georgetown to cook alongside our outstanding executive chef Johanna Heilrigl. We can’t wait for these two to renew their acquaintance and to dazzle us with what they think up and cook up next. A tasting at the Tabarrini winery on Thursday will no doubt be a highlight for our guests, but a command performance in Washington is in the cards, with a special visit by the winery’s owners Giampaolo Tabarrini and his wife Federica Pietrolati for some memorable dinners and maybe a glass of wine or two.
Connecting our guests and our customers to the incredibly rich experiences that we have found in Umbria is what we do, regardless of place. Whether it takes place sotto il sole or under the sun, in Cannara or in Washington, these are the experiences that make up a life and we are proud to offer them to you.
One of the reasons Suzy and I have fallen so hard for Italy might be truffles. I can remember back to the days, not so long ago, when I had never smelled or tasted a truffle and in a way their discovery (at an unforgettable lunch in Milano nearly two decades ago) separates my life into two distinct eras – pre-truffle and post-truffle life. I much prefer my post-truffle period.
So, too, may truffles be the reason Suzy and I fell so hard for Umbria, because Umbria is one of Italy’s (and the world’s) best and most prolific truffle breeding grounds. Blessed by the right soil, vegetation and moisture, these wild funghi grow all over Umbria, living in symbiosis with the roots of various indigenous trees that call Umbria home.
But at the end of the day, the real reason we call Umbria our second home may be the Bianconi family. Saverio and Gabriella, the first citizens of Umbria’s upper Tiber valley’s most important city, Citta di Castello. Gabriella and Saverio have introduced us to their world, a world of truffles and their limitless possibilities. Saverio Bianconi is Citta di Castello’s most important truffle merchant, a buyer and seller of these black and white beauties. He has educated us on truffles, invited us to savor them with him and, most importantly and enjoyably, he has taken us on countless truffle hunts with his coterie of truffle dogs. And Gabriella, his lovely wife, has invited us into her home to learn the secrets of cooking with and using truffles.
This Wednesday, June 20, we are featuring a four course precious black truffle dinner in our intimate enoteca (wine room) at Via Umbria. Ten guests will savor the luxurious “precious black” truffle, also known as the Perigord truffle among francophiles. The truffle kingdom is divided into two families, the black and the white truffle, with the white truffle of Alba (tuber magnatum) at the top of that family pyramid and costing upwards of €3,500 per kilogram. At the top of the black truffle family is the precious black (tuber melanosporum), which we are having Saverio air ship us from Umbria to Via Umbria for our guests’ enjoyment. These black beauties have a very short season, packing all of their intoxicating aroma and flavor into a very short timeframe. It really is a case of enjoy them now or wait until next year!
To make the evening even more special we have air shipped our favorite Umbrian chef from Bevagna to Via Umbria to prepare this unforgettable meal. Chef Simone Proietti-Pesci will be in the kitchen and in the enoteca to make sure this is a night to remember. A native of Umbria, Chef Simone knows how to make truffles sing. You should come join us and listen to the music.
Seats for our Precious Black Truffle Dinner are $200 per person, but can be purchased online at the discounted price of $175 through Tuesday. This special dinner is limited to 10 people, so be sure to buy your tickets before they’re all sold out.
What: Precious Black Truffle Dinner
Where: in the Enoteca (wine room) at Via Umbria
When: Wednesday, January 20 at 7:30
For more information or to book your reservation visit us online or call us at (202) 333-3904.
After a thrilling morning hunting truffles, the guests of the food and wine tourget to enter the magical kitchen of Gabriella Bianconi. She lets us smell each type of truffle (there are many different types for different uses!) as she gently incorporates them into a myriad of tasting dishes. Once we understand the general characteristics of each truffle, we sit down for a full meal where we delight in simple yet rich dishes. It’s truffle season: feast your eyes.
Did this photoset make your mouth water? Luckily for you, we will carry most of these products in our new store, as well as offering fresh truffle dinners. So stay tuned..soon you will be able to have a truffle feast of your own!
The classic Aperol spritz is one of our go-to drinks before dinner. In Italy, around 5 PM, the piazzas and patios fill up with beautiful orange colored glasses full of the refreshing and palate-exciting cocktail.
We decided to add a bit of whisky, rosemary from the garden, and wildflower honey syrup (which the taste-testers agreed was the key to binding all of the flavors together) for this smashing take on the classic.
This updated version just might be our new go-to before dinner. As stimulating as the original Spritz, but with more depth of flavor, it is a drink we will reach for again soon.
But your perfect aperitivo drink needs some food, of course! The abundance of zucchini has us slicing some very thin pieces, then drizzling them with olive oil and and pinch of truffle salt. A three minute luxury well-deserved at the end of a long workday. We’re taking some olives and artichokes to nibble on as well, and heading outside to enjoy the long hours of summer.
Here’s how to recreate the Whisky Spritz and our Truffled Zucchini Bruschetta.
For the Drink:
Place 3 long sprigs of fresh rosemary, and ice, in a glass.
Pour one part whisky and two parts Aperol into the glass, stir.
Take 1 tablespoon of highly flavored wildflower honey, drizzle into a canning jar. Heat water until almost boiling, and pour a bit into the glass. Mix well until you have a syrup.
Pour the honey syrup into the glass and stir.
Top with prosecco, garnish with a grapefruit slice. Enjoy!
For the Antipasto:
Slice your bread thinly, and your zucchini even more thinly. Drizzle high-quality olive oil over the zucchini (we used Mancinofor its slightly spicy flavor) and top with a generous sprinkle of truffle salt.