Truffles are one of the rarest and most expensive foods in the world. These “diamonds of the kitchen” as named in the 19th century, can often be found shaved on a very good pasta dish or stirred in a sauce leaving an earthy rich flavour which remains in memory long after.
Truffles are a fungus which grows under specific trees and in Italy, those are oak and pine trees. These delicacies come in five types that can be found, but the white truffles are what causes a “gold rush” being the most valuable and their prices can range from one to several thousands of dollars.
Their rarity comes out of the mere choice of nature that they cannot be cultivated and so when the time comes hunters around Italy gather for a seasonal hunt of these little precious gems.
Truffles are harvested by the truffle hunters, dogs which are specifically and comprehensively trained to recognize a distinct odour that truffles emit. As September approaches the hunting season begins and it stretches all the way to November allowing the harvest of White and Black Truffles, although the harvest of various truffles throughout the country goes on throughout the year.
Roman countryside, the region of Lazio, is fruitful of truffles such as Tartufo Bianco d’Alba which is the type that has the most intense aroma and is considered to be the most luxurious food in the world. In recent times, unlike before when truffle hunting was kept very private and limited strictly to the families of hunters, the experience of truffle hunting has been opened to the curious and adventurous people to participate in a hunting excursion.
This exciting experience is usually a day trip during which the expert hunters prepare the visitors with a small lesson about truffles and then start a journey through the beautiful woods with a help of dogs in the search for the truffles. The harvested treasures are later used for a cooking lesson on how to prepare truffle dishes and then served with local wine. The incredible natural surroundings where the truffle hunt takes place creates a memorable experience filled with secrets of this famous and favourite food, that shouldn’t be missed out on.
The season of truffles also brings these fresh, delicious and renowned flavours into a few restaurants around Rome. “Osteria Barberini”, located on the Spanish steps is a restaurant with a casual style and fantastic food. Their menu specialities are dishes made with black and white truffles, which you will never forget and the atmosphere of intimacy and tradition something to always come back to.
Also located a short while from the Spanish steps is a fine dining restaurant “Life” where you can savour their black truffle tasting menu along with a few other truffle-infused dishes paired with an excellent glass of wine. White truffle season lasts from October until early January, followed by black winter truffle season from December until March and then black summer truffle from May till September leaving plenty of time and opportunities for whenever in Rome not to miss out on a delicious truffle dish.