Italian fare

Gambino

Italian food is one of my favorites because of its vivid flavors, the dedication in using the freshest ingredients. A prized ingredient on Italian dishes is the truffle-an extremely rare commodity that has this umami taste that livens up pizzas and pasta dishes.

In Manila, you can have your fill of the truffle from Gambino’s at the Fort Bonifacio. Apart from its truffle infused dishes, they also have bistecca ala Florentine, beef tartar drizzled with light olive oil, with capers and arugula, and cioppinos- a seafood stew made from fresh fish, mussels, squid, simmered in tomato sauce and fish stock.

I had the pizza with four cheese and the Quattro stagioni pizza, which has artichokes, too. The truffle pizza was the bomb. And another truffle dish that Gambinos has was this delicious creamy fettuccine with mushrooms, too.

The most expensive truffle would have to be the white truffle which is available in the Tuscany region, Piedmont in Northern Italy, Abruzzo, where the Abruzzo wine is from, and the countryside of Alba. The more popular trees are oak, beech and hazel that serve as homes to these truffles.

The perigold truffle is commercially the most common one. But common does not necessarily mean inexpensive. Harvested in late autumn and winter, truffle season put in on specials in winter menus. Then there is the burgundy or summer truffles, which has a more pungent aroma compared to the other two.

What makes this delicacy expensive is also the method of harvesting. They used to use hogs with an innate sense of smell in gathering and pointing out where the truffles are. Recently, truffle dogs have been trained in order to help in harvesting.

Also, in the last decades, more truffles are being cultivated, making it more commercially available. France leads in the truffle production, but production is also happening in countries like United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, United States and Spain.

Hopefully with an improvement with technology, more truffles will be available all year round, as I am partial to its smooth taste and pungent aroma. But then again, that would dampen the excitement of actually waiting for truffle season, wouldn’t it?

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