Truffle Fest

Our Dining Host & New Friend, Enrico Romani

Few things are better than truffles. That unmistakable aroma and purely distinct flavor transcends me. When I taste them I’m usually transported to Italy. Today I am lifted into heaven.

Charlotte, Willie and Luca have a weekend planned in Sicily, so Troy and I have a few days to ourselves at Due Papaveri. What a deal.

After Charlotte tells us all about truffle crepes at Vecchia Trattoria, we know exactly where to treat ourselves.

As we arrive at Vecchia Trattoria, we are graciously greeted by Enrico Romani, the Chef/Owner’s son and our dining host. This is his family restaurant and he plans to run the trattoria one day. He is eager to practice English and welcomes us with open arms.

We decide to go completely truffle nuts and order the little devils in every course. What begins as a truffle-fest quickly turns into a truffle-orgy. We are so American. Everything in excess.

Enrico tells us that Vecchia Trattoria sources many of their truffles from Montefiorino, as well as from Alba and Norcia. Fortunately for us, it is truffle season.

Our adventure begins:

Antipasti I—Formaggio al Forno al Tartufo (Baked Cheese with Truffle)

Formaggio al Forno al Tartufo (Baked Cheese with Truffle)

We come out of the gates with bubbling baked cheese teeming with shaved black truffle. Pow! As Enrico delivers it to our table, it smacks us in the face with truffle.

Troy goes crazy as he lifts his fork to his mouth “OMG, this is orgasmic! I could eat this by the pound, and I don’t even need the bread. Man, put a fork in me—I’m done”.

I crack up as I try some for myself. I wouldn’t be surprised if my eyes rolled into the back of my head as I savor this bite. Do you know how some mouthfuls remain with you forever? This is one of those times.

As Troy says “It’s salty, it’s cheese and it’s truffle—what could be better?” The cheese in this dish is caciotta, a local salty cow’s milk cheese. The truffle flavor is uninhibited, concentrated and pure earth. The simplicity of the two ingredients allows the truffle to shine.

Enrico recommends the sparkling white, Franciacorta Cá del Bosco and its crisp bubbles cut straight through the cheesy dish. Superb.

Antipasti II—Crespelle al Tartufo (Truffle Crepe)

Crespelle al Tartufo (Truffle Crepe)

This fiery crepe is layered with caciotta, pecorino, gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkled with truffle. With such a variety of cheeses, the flavor is complex and heady. It marries nicely with the crisp caramel edges of the crepe. By the way, I taste the shaved truffle by itself and it has a soft, rough texture and is actually sweet.

Primi Piatti—Tortelloni al Tartufo (Truffle Tortelloni)

Tortelloni al Tartufo (Truffle Tortelloni)

Enrico says that his two BESTS of his restaurant are the tortelloni and the table-side T-bone. He recommends the tortelloni with truffle for our next course. These pasta pillows are filled with traditional spinach and ricotta. The filling is light and fresh with herbs. The eggy pasta is the star of this course. I can see how it is Enrico’s BEST.

Secondi Piatti—Valdostana al Tartufo (Pork, Cheese and Truffle)

Valdostana al Tartufo (Pork, Cheese & Truffle)

Enrico surprises us with a peppery red, Dolcetto D’Alba 2008 by Enrico Serafino, to accompany our meat course. It is silky and stands up to the pork. The pork chop is covered in bread crumbs and fried, smothered with caciotta and adorned with truffle. It’s rich and juicy. Thank goodness we are splitting each course.

As we complete our truffle fest, Troy and I agree that the Formaggio al Forno al Tartufo (Baked Cheese with Truffle) is our clear BEST—and we will never forget it. Troy loves the salty bubbling cheese paired with truffle. To me, this is the BEST because each part of this dish accentuates the truffle. The mild cheese fades away and the saltiness makes the truffle sing. The heat of the dish heightens the aroma and sharpens the flavor. My every sense is engulfed by succulent truffle.

Just as we think we have finished, Enrico steps up to our table saying “Are you ready for dessert? I have a little surprise for you…” as he pulls another bottle of wine from behind his back. This wine is a unique tradition from this region, a dry sparkling red called Lambrusco.

Ricotta con Marmellata D’Uva (Ricotta with Grape Marmalade)

Ricotta con Marmellata D'Uva (Ricotta with Grape Marmalade)

He serves it with a house-made ricotta and marmalade of grapes. They are the same type of grape used to make Lambrusco. The two pair eloquently. The dish is milky and sweet.

We are thrilled as he joins us for the remainder of the meal. As we toast, Enrico shows us how the young people in Italy clink glasses. The three of us chatter away sharing stories and traditions.

Enrico gets up and says “at our trottoria, no one leaves the table without cheese”. As if we have not already devoured our weight in cheese.

Naturalmente Formaggio con Vino Passito (Seasoned Cheese with Passito Wine)

Naturalmente Formaggio con Vino Passito (Seasoned Cheese with Passito Wine)

Before we know it, our table is littered with more wine. Enrico pours a NES Passito di Pantelleria 2008 and serves it with a plate of Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino. He tells us how it is tradition to finish a meal with seasoned cheese and passito. Passito is a local sweet wine with a high alcohol content from harvesting the grapes late in the season. Next he pours a wine from “one of the most important wineries in Italy”, Muffato della Sala 2006. And then another, a Sicilian Zibibbo from Duca di Castelmonte.

Piatto Dolce con Il Santo (Sweet Plate with Il Santo Wine)

Piatto Dolce con Il Santo (Sweet Plate with Il Santo Wine)

Next, Enrico revisits the table with a plate of house-made sweets and Il Santo. I can’t believe there is more. Il Santo is a type of passito wine from Tuscany typically used for dunking biscotti. On the plate there are peach candies, anise and almond cookies, biscotti with dried fruit and my favorite, Croccante, a house specialty made with honey and almonds.

We finish the evening with dark chocolate and a red passito called Masi Recioto della Valpolicella.

“I am in heaven” I say—and Enrico replies “so am I”. Troy agrees. We clink glasses and all cheer “Salute”.

Thank you Enrico! You have made our stay in Pavullo very special.

We are happy to recommend Vecchia Trattoria. If you are lucky enough to visit, be sure to find Enrico and tell him you heard about the trattoria through ChopSizzlePop.com.

Coming soon… Enrico’s Chef Rec.

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