Grazie Eddie & Chef Marco for the fabulous experience you provided my 10 Culinary Adventurers... it was beyond imagination and simply unforgettable!!!
Having dined before at the gorgeous Piermarini Ferentillo, I knew the food we would taste would be delicious, but the experience we had with our day long excursion... that is the stuff dreams are made of.
We began at 9 am, caravaning our cars and Eddie's jeep to a secret truffle location in southern Umbria. After hiking a ways in the hot summer sun, Eddie fills our group in on the history of truffle hunting and the Piermarini story. We were fascinated by his every word, in part because of topic, in part because his accent - a combination of British & Italian - wiedling a never ending stream of wry jokes, totally mesmerized our group of ladies. He is well, adorable. Dogs in tow and Chef Marco directing, we are blown away by the unearthing of baseball size truffles, one after another after another. Their scent was earthy and pungent and all but made us drool.
Back at the restaurant we don our aprons for "lezione" in dishes traditional to the Umbrian cuisine. We watch closely (with copious amounts of sparkling rose being poured) as the staff fries up light as air, crispy verdure fritte ... strips of colorful bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini, squash blossoms... and, both tender Rosemary sprigs and Sage leaves that delivered incredible flavor and crunch.
The sparkling wine still flowing, we taste the sweetest Umbrian proscuitto, thinly sliced and laid atop olive oil drenched foccacia bread, while Eddie demonstrates the making of the Truffle Sauce. I saw at least two of those baseball sized truffles being grated, forming a staggeringly large mound of truffle shavings. Ahhhhh. He works the sauce carefully, 'piano,piano' (slowly, slowly.) I could share the secret recipe with you, but better you go take the class to uncover it!
The entire kitchen is buzzing with action everywhere. The fritte making (and eating) continues, off to one side there is pasta being made and cut by hand, to the other side Chef Marco is deboning a leg of lamb and stuffing it with herbs and garlic. All the while I am grateful that I chose to skip teaching my own class today as was planned in exchange for participating myself in this unbelievable day of fun with my Culinary Adventurers.
After class we head outside for an olive oil tasting and discussion about how and what to buy back in the states. Valuable information indeed as there are many blended oils to be avoided. Only the best, locally grown olives are used to make the oil for Piermarini.
Next came lunch, paired with delicious regional wines. A brightly acidic and crisp grechetto with the starters and later a robust, raisiny ciliegiolo for the pasta and meat courses. Most of the le donne are served Piermarini's signature Egg with Truffle... an unctuous, velvety soft boiled egg ladden with freshly made Truffle Sauce and batons of crusty toasted bread for dipping. For the non-egg diners, a napoleon of creamy ricotta and freshly made mozzarella with fresh shaved truffles and peppery greens. Oh my... I can't say which is better. For the pasta course, hand cut ciriole with an Amatriciana sauce... a simple tomato sauce enhanced with guanciale (cheek) bacon. For the secondi, out came the lamb... moist, herbaceous, perfectly cooked to medium... and topped with shavings of fresh black summer truffle. It was like a symphony was being played with Chef Marco as conductor and Eddie as lead violin. Their beautiful melody ended with a light and fluffy yogurt mousse in a pool of fresh strawberry puree, topped with bits of juicy ripe cantaloupe. Digestivos and caffe followed.
After lunch, and many hugs and kisses, we floated back to our cars... quite a feat given that we'd each consumed enough food & drink to nourish a small village!
An unparalleled experience this day with Eddie and Chef Marco and one that I offer my most heartfelt applause and recommendation. When planning your trip to include southern Umbria, place this excursion at the top of the list!
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