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Truffles, Risotto and a Villa in Umbria

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Cooking School in Tuscany, cucina, cucina povere, entertaining, Facts, history of foods, recipes, risotto, slow food, Travel & customs, Trivia, and Umbria


 Here is an excerpt of this month’s newsletter. To read the full newsletter go to:

Truffles and Meats: Two Staple Foods from Umbria

copyright2009, Maria Liberati

Editor: Christa Gutzler

Is your mouth watering for a meaty truffle? Well, as distinct as the cooking is in Umbria, you won’t find a chocolate truffle infused with pork, but separately these two items top the list of famous specialty foods coming from the beautiful Umbria region in Italy. With its tree-laden grounds scoured by uniquely trained “truffle dogs,” Umbria maintains favorable conditions for which wild mushrooms abound during truffle season. The soil created by oak and willow trees are said to be rich in Norcia, one of Umbria’s most reliable areas for bountiful truffle raising and famous for its black truffles and flourishing truffle trade industry.

Coming to a close at the end of March, truffle season harvests Umbria’s most sought after and expensive treat starting in December each year. Secretive and mysterious, the professional truffle harvesters of Umbria, known as the trifolau, partake in festivals and other celebrations throughout truffle hunting season seeking truffles of all sizes and shapes and pungency. Once these truffles are found, they are cooked and stored, or sold to restaurants and added to high cuisine recipes.

Eaten alone or thrown into a pasta dish, truffles are a delectable addition to various Italian dishes including but not limited to roast squab, mayonnaise, cakes, rice, fondue and a variety of spreads and sauces. The legacy of the truffle is attributed to its versatility and flavor. No other terrain in the world produces as many truffles as Italy does and 80% of Italy’s truffles come from Umbria. Gastronomes around the world agree that Italian truffles possess a earthy and heavenly taste, though black truffles from Norcia are known to be less aromatic than its white complement. The truffle is not the only hot commodity in Umbria, as there are just as many butchers as there are truffle hunters in this extraordinary region.

If you’ve ever been to an open market in Italy, you are sure to have been surrounded by the various meats that have been butchered, prepared, and sold for generations. Most commonly in the form of salami, sausages, and ham, Umbria’s primary meat is pork. Dishes such as mazzafegati (pig’s liver sausages), porchetta (pork roast), and Umbrian mortadella (seasoned sausage mixed with pork and bacon) are recognized as flavorful, sweet, and savory. It’s said that Italian butchers do not hold back when it comes to the pig, doing everything and anything that can be done to them in the name of cooking. From the pig’s feet and cheeks to the ox’s tongue, the Italians are creative and ingenious in how they approach the livestock from which they create their specialty foods and dishes. Umbria’s conscientious cooking processes, embedded in history and perfected through experimentation, continue to provide pleasing treats and meats.

Villa LaVeranda Interview and Tour-Umbria Italy

it is breathtaking ,the villa that I just fell in love with enough to have my culinary tours there for The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Here is video of my visit there and the interview with Susan Evans-who headed the transformation of this once animal stall into the beautiful villa it is today. Watch!
If you want to join our next culinary tour and stay there ..see more info at or look below

Check out my informal interview inside the kitchen of La Veranda here:

**Please keep your thoughts and prayers with the people of central Italy who were hit with the devastating earthquake on April 6th. Hardest hit was the city of L’Aquila and towns nearby. Since L’Aquila is the capital city of Abruzzo I have been there for many events many a time. You can put the name L’Aquila in the search engine of my blog to find past posts on this medieval town. But here is one of the posts:


Risotto with White Grapes is a delicious recipe and great with Orvieto wine from Umbria

1 cuo rice for risotto-arborio or carnaroli

½ lb white grapes (seedless)

1 slice onion chopped finely

4 ounces parmigiana reggiano cheese

1 tablespoon butter

3-6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine or champagne

2 tablespoons olive oil

In saute pan, saute olive chopped onion in olive oil. When golden put in rice and saute for 2 minutes, Place in wine or champagne. When liquid is absorbed, pour in ¾ cup broth. Stir and when liquid is absorbed pour in another ¾ cup of broth. Repeast this processs for approx 15 minutes or until al dente. Half way during cooking time. Place in washed grapes. When finished, top with butter, and parmigiano reggiano cheese.

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 Whole Foods Jenkintown, April 4th

Whole Foods, Philadelphia, May 2

Whole Foods Bethesda, Maryland on May 7′

May 6th, Wine Pairing Dinner at Country Creek Winery in Telford, witha 4 course authentic Italian sampler dinner and 4 wine samples..join us at an authentic rustic vineyard voted as Montgomery County’s Best. Fee is $39.95 reservations are limited ,call the winery at 215-723-6516 for reservations.

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