This is truffle season. We have a restaurant about 20 minutes away that gets white truffles from Alba this time of year, so I almost always run down there for a meal when possible. Two weeks ago I had a meeting with a student doing his final presentation on the Capstone Project at the company where he works. It was only a mile from Tomasso’s, the restaurant, so I went there for a simple lunch of Tagliatelle with Truffles, and a glass of one of my favorite Italian wines, Kajanero, by Vestini Campagnano, from Campania.
The lunch, and the student’s presentation, were big successes.
Experimenting at Home
In the past few days, I’ve had time to play in the kitchen, to experiment with new techniques as well as return to old standbys.
As vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian eaters (depending on day of the week and month), we virtually never have meat, so there are few reasons to use sous vide techniques. However, the technology has improved and gotten easier to do, and I could see some use for fish (which I sometimes poach in olive oil in the oven), so I decided to try it.
Barbara was out at a meeting one night, so I pulled out the Joule device I just bought, and gave it a try. I had some very good carrots and turnips from our CSA; they were a good place to start. The biggest challenge was finding a deep enough pot in our collection that was not stainless steel-lined, so the magnetic base of the device would adhere to the bottom. I did find a Le Creuset pot that worked, and 55 minutes later I had perfectly cooked, very flavorful vegetables. I refrigerated them overnight as served them the next night for dinner, as an appetizer with pan-roasted baby brussels sprouts, before one of our favorite old pasta dishes — Bucatini with Caramelized Onions, Walnuts, and Rosemary. This recipe was from Molly O’Neill in the NY Times, twenty years ago. Barbara and I enjoyed both dishes.
One last indulgence occurred the next night. Looking for some late nourishment before bed, I went up to the kitchen, looking for a piece of toast with almond milk ricotta cheese. No such luck. My dear wife had converted the rest of the Tuscan Pane to croutons. Next best choice was the Sea Salt flatbread crackers. I added Pugliese olive oil, salt and pepper to some almond ricotta, then spread it on some crackers, but it needed a little something more. Cruising through the pantry shelves I discovered a small jar of French Summer Truffles, preserved in olive oil, and thinly sliced. They must have been there for 5 years, or maybe 10, who know? Gingerly, i pried off the top. Smelled fine, albeit subtle. Tasted one, and decided to proceed, topping the cheese with truffle slices. But what to drink?
This required serious thought. Fortunately, I found a fine bottle of a 1985 Bordeaux, Château Chasse-Spleen, and decided that night was the night to open it up. Good choice.