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.
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.
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!
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!