Monday, October 11, 2010

Cooking class in Umbria

The husband made truffled scrambled eggs for a breakfast this weekend. The combination of good quality farm eggs perfumed with black truffles with whole grain toast was delightful and made me nostalgic for the short time we spent in the Umbria region of Italy. It's also thanks to the cooking class that we took in Umbria that we now know how to use truffles properly. 

We stayed at a rustic B&B outside of Perugia and on the outskirts of Assissi called Alla Madonna del Piatto - Agriturismo in Umbria, run by a lovely couple (Letizia and Ruurd) who were academic researchers in their former life (in entomology, of all things!). This is the view from our room:

If this looks rural, it's cuz it is - we drove 3 miles from a major road  up a steep hill on a dirt road to get to the property. Despite the somewhat harrowing drive (not nearly as bad as in the Amalfi), the view and the solitude was worth it when we got there. I wasn't able to get a shot with the flocks of sheep that dotted the countryside, but they were definitely roaming around. We heard the sheep dogs in the middle of the night, ferociously barking to protect their charges from some threat. We were told it was likely wild boars who would try to attack the sheep. It was also the start of the hunting season, so at times we would be gazing at the hills and hear the very distinct echo of a gunshot.

In addition to running the B&B, Letizia also holds cooking classes in her kitchen. I didn't take any photos since I was doing some of the prep and drinking wine in between steps, but one of the participants took amazing shots that you can hopefully see here: Cooking class. It was a fantastic setting for learning a little about Umbrian cooking. In addition to several fig trees on their property that the husband climbed on our last day in order to pick some fruit for a picnic, there were these beauties in the backyard:

Quince tree

Giant rosemary bush
Our comings and goings were supervised by Google, the truffle hunting dog. I can't remember her breed but it is an Italian breed related to the Portuguese water dog. I was disappointed that she didn't bring us any truffles. Apparently she eats figs, and got very upset when the husband went up a tree to pick the figs, probably because she didn't get any. 

As for how to use truffles properly, it's amazingly simple - whether using a butter or preserve, add it at the very end of cooking. If you add it earlier in the cooking process, you will end up cooking off the truffle flavour. Worked perfectly in scrambled eggs, pasta will be the next attempt once we're ready to eat pasta again (that will still be a while).


Jennifer said...

What gorgeous surroundings!!!! What a lovely vacation you must have had-minus the steep winding road....

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