A sprinkle of Luxury - Truffle Dinner at Michaelangelo's Little Italy

Besides the changing of leaves, fall brings Truffle season. From October through December, you’re likely to find truffle enhanced dishes on many restaurant menus. In fact, a weeks ago, I was a guest at Michaelangelo’s popular annual truffle dinner which is a five-course truffle enhanced meal paired with incredible wines from family-owned vineyards.

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Truffles grow on nearly every continent, but the only ones truly famed for their flavor are the ones from France and Italy. White truffles are the most expensive and exclusive, but their black truffle cousins are more readily found, are probably the ones you’ve eaten if you’ve had truffles at a restaurant. So what do truffles taste like? It’s a little difficult to describe their taste, but they add a creamy, earthy richness to food, particularly good when the dish is well seasoned (salt). It’s almost like if mushrooms and butter had a baby, then you can get a sense of the earthy creaminess of truffles.

Back to the truffle dinner: Chef Michael studied his craft in Northern Italy, which is incidentally also where Italian truffles are harvested. The menu featured traditional northern Italian dishes, and each course (including dessert) included truffles. Each course was paired with wine from a small, family owned vineyards also from Northern Italy. And WOW. Everything was so delicious and decadent, and yet, I didn’t feel like I had eaten my body weight in food.

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While the truffle dinner only happens once a year, Michaelangelo’s features a Sacchetti al Tartufo on its regular menu that includes truffles.

The truffles (and food in general) at Michaelangelo’s were delicious, but the dinner had me wondering if any of it could be replicated at home.

Where can the average person buy truffles if one is so inclined?

Michaelangelo’s General Manager Jon Fronck recommends reaching out to your favorite Italian restaurant to see if they may be willing to put in a special order through their purveyor. You can attempt to buy them online (Williams Sonoma sells them) but buyer beware. Truffles are very sensitive to temperature and humidity, and can go bad if not properly cared for. Good truffles are firm and should have no give at all, with a musty smell. Judging the quality of truffles comes with experience, but Jon had some recommendations for learning more about truffles.

And finally, if all else fails, oils and sauces are generally a good way to get that truffle craving satisfied. Michaelangelo’s uses Contado degli Acquaviva tartufata and I’m personally a big fan of truffle oil and truffle salt. I bought some of each when I was in Paris a few years ago, but if a trip to France or Italy isn’t in your imminent future, Williams Sonoma has some truffle items to consider.

One of my favorite everyday treats is Popcorn with Truffle salt - simply make your popcorn (stovetop is particularly good) and add truffle salt instead of regular salt. Pair it with some delicious Italian wine and you have the start of a great evening!

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Disclosure: Thank you to Michaelangelo’s Little Italy for inviting me to their delicious truffle dinner. It was my first time at the restaurant and I will definitely be back for more from their regular menu. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. If you’re local to Northeast Ohio or plan to visit Cleveland, I highly recommend a meal at Michaelangelo’s!

Unsolicited Advice: Episode Two

I am super into the holidays this year - I think it’s my coping mechanism for the fucking dumpster fire that is America in 2018.

Seriously this has been the longest damn year ever and I have used every self care trick I’ve ever learned to get to this stage with my sanity intact and my blood pressure normal. And yes, I am incredibly grateful for, and completely recognize my privilege at being able to invest time and real $ behind my self care.

Things I’ve done this year to cope:

The Calm App. The best. Fucking. App. Ever. If you’re not listening to sleepy stories for adults you’re not even living.

Read so many books, mostly for fun escapism.

Monthly chiropractic appointments (thank you health insurance and HSAs).

Massages.

Wine. Cocktails. Anything with alcohol in it.

Spending time outside and connecting with nature.

Creating and checking off wishlists for each season.

So. Many. Sephora makeovers.

Sushi dinners.

Ramen dinners.

Planning vacations.

Baking bread.

Limiting my politics news consumption to one publication once a day.

Reconnecting with my childhood by picking up a tennis racket and playing again after over 10 years.

And even after all of this, I’m just exhausted and saddened by everything that has happened this year. Why are you like this America?! And where do we go from here?

So the lesson for today is this:
If someone is listening to Christmas music or watching holiday movies or generally going overboard on the holidays way too early this year, let them. They’ve earned it. 

No one likes a party pooper.

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Celebrating the spirit of Diwali

As we head into a new week, billions of Indians across the world are getting ready to celebrate Diwali, the festival of light. Like most Indian celebrations, Diwali is a four day affair, ending with the Indian New Year. Diwali is traditionally a religious holiday, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, and although each faith celebrates the holiday a little bit differently, ultimately the festival represents the symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

I’m not religious in the slightest, so for me, Diwali is a symbolic and cultural holiday rather than a religious one. Diwali is often described as the “Indian Christmas”, but honestly besides the presents, there’s really no connection between Diwali and Christmas. Growing up, I loved Diwali because we had days off school, there were presents, and my family would get together and eat themselves silly. What’s not to love? As an adult, none of these happen anymore, but I love celebrating anyway.

The spirit of Diwali comes down to 3 things: Love, Light, and Luck

You can celebrate Diwali too - if you’re uncomfortable celebrating the holiday itself, you can celebrate the spirit of Diwali - love, light and luck.

Showing love is really about surrounding yourself with family and/or friends, and there’s probably no better way to show love than through food. I invite my neighbors over for dinner and cook an entirely Indian meal. To celebrate Diwali yourself, host a casual dinner party this week, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try out some new Indian recipes.

Check out my post on Best Indian Cookbooks, and the New York Times has a pretty legit Butter Chicken recipe.

My celebration always includes lots of light in the form of candles (both real and faux) and sparklers after dinner. The sparklers take a little planning, and we stock up right after July 4th, but if you don’t have leftover sparklers, you can just light every candle you own to symbolize the victory of light over darkness.

And finally, for a little luck, my Diwali celebration includes some scratch-off lottery tickets, or lottery tickets in general, but if you feel so inclined, a trip to the casino is also a lot of fun.

Celebrating Diwali is such a lovely experience, and even if you aren’t Indian, I hope I’ve given you some fun, actionable ideas to celebrate the spirit of Diwali this year.

Wishing you a year filled with love, light and luck!

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Best Indian Cookbooks (if you're not Indian)

My great-aunt Tarla Dalal was an incredibly famous Indian cookbook author. A vegetarian herself, she only wrote vegetarian recipes that were then translated into many Indian and International languages, including Russian and Dutch. She was truly a pioneer - her first cookbook was published in 1974, well before the Internet and social media, and she published over 100 cookbooks in her time. I always loved visiting her house — as you might imagine, the food was always incredible. You can find all her recipes online at TarlaDalal.com if you’re interested in truly authentic Indian vegetarian recipes.

I visit her website often, but I’ve found it has a few limitations. For one, it lacks the high impact visuals that I’m used to from sites like Domesticate Me, Smitten Kitchen and New York Times Cooking. Second, the recipes are only vegetarian, and sometimes they’re hard to follow, and I’m Indian, so theoretically, these are familiar to me!!!

A few years ago, I found myself in pursuit of the best Indian cookbooks. My primary criteria was that the recipes tasted like home. Next, I wanted clear directions, and pretty pictures didn’t hurt either. And while there were some truly mediocre ones, I’ve found a few that are worth the purchase if you truly love Indian food.

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Made In India and Fresh India, both by Meera Sodha: I first learned about Meera Sodha from a recipe she contributed to the NYT Cooking site - she’s based in England, but her family is originally from the same part of India that my family is ancestrally from. Her recipes taste very much like the recipes I grew up on, as well as some recipes that I’ve never tried before. They’re all easy and pretty quick to execute, and she taught me some really great tips like making sure that you fry dry spices in oil for maximum fragrance and flavor. Her recipes require no special gadgets - just your basic pots and pans. I’ve tried multiple recipes from both books, and have never gone wrong with an of them.

Indian Food Under Pressure by My Heart Beets (Ashley): Ashley is a blogger, so I suppose you could technically find these recipes online, but I personally prefer using a paper cookbook for recipes. There’s something to be said for the screen not going dark or locking due to auto sleep settings. Anyway, Ashley’s recipes are all gluten free and also Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker) friendly. Because you’re putting ingredients in an instant pot, they are not aesthetically the same as assembling a regular recipe. But if you want really good Indian food with minimal fuss, and want to use your instant pot more, this book is a really good one to use. I got this one fairly recently so I haven’t cooked quite as many as from Meera Sodha’s books but everything I’ve tried has been really good (except for one which was user error - turns out I don’t really love coconut milk unless it’s in a curry).


The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla: This book has the best Indian slow cooker recipes I’ve tasted. That said, you do need a slow cooker that has a digital timer and warming function because you can’t leave Indian food to cook on low forever — the spices start to taste funky. I’ve used this cookbook to cook for a party for 40 people. While I will never cook for 40 again, rest assured I still use these recipes for those days that I’m feeling really lazy and want to dump a bunch of stuff into a slow cooker.

Are you a fan of Indian food? Leave me the favorite Indian food you’ve tasted in the comments!

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase using any of the links in this blog post (at no cost to you). As always, all opinions are 100% my own, and I only recommend products that I’ve tested myself and love!

If you like this post, you may also like our post on Tea Infused Cocktails for Fall, which includes a recipe for Bombay Government Punch.