If I was going to describe the cuisine of Umbria to anyone I would probably mention pork, olive oil, and truffles within the first sentence, as all are particularly important ingredients used in many Umbrian dishes. Truffles, also known as tartufo, are harvested in the wild from the forests of Umbria which apparently has the right conditions for growing this very popular fungus. Black truffles are much more common in Umbria than white truffles and therefore are also much less expensive. It is reported that the optimal period for harvesting black truffles in Umbria is from October through March though we have been able to purchase some very nice black truffles through the summer months as well. I am told this summer truffle is named tuber aestivum and though it is said to be less aromatic than the truffles that grown through the cooler months, it combines well with other foods such as mushrooms and artichokes, particulary in sauces.
White truffles are generally best harvested in Umbria between October and December and are found around Orvieto, Gubbio, and the Tiber Valley and can be found around the roots of oak, linden, willow, and popular trees. There are at least ten different truffle varieties that grow in Umbria, though the tuber melanosporum Vittadiniis said to be the most valuable due to its pungent aroma. Truffles grow underground around specific tree roots in soil with a high clay content and today dogs and not pigs are used to find and harvest them. Black truffles need only a gentle rinsing and a brushing to remove any loose soil before using them in your recipes. Many dishes from appetizers to main courses are enhanced with the aromatic black truffle in Umbria, and when used properly add an earthiness to each dish that is used in.
Fresh truffles should be stored carefully to retain its natural aromatic qualities and is best used shortly after it has been harvested. To store fresh truffles for a couple of days, it is best to wrap them in paper, then again in damp paper towels and store in the refrigerator. We have also been told that truffles freeze well if vacuum sealed though so far we haven’t had a lot of luck in freezing truffles ourselves.
When we first moved to Umbria, I must admit that I was a little skeptical about eating this strange ingredient that grows as a fungus underground and yet is so highly praised by so many. I am now a convert however, and love just about any dish that is served with fresh, aromatic truffles. We love to dine out whenever we travel and enjoy the best each region has to offer. In Umbria, particularly in the fall, truffles are everywhere, and we truly appreciate the unique ways many Umbrian chefs have found to enhance their regional dishes with truffles.
Recently we were taken to a trattoria located in the countryside just outside of Gubbio that has a reputation for serving outstanding truffle dishes called Da Baffone. It is set up in the hills in a rustic setting but the food is certainly well worth the drive and after our first meal there with family, we know we will be returning there often to get our truffle fix. On our first visit to Da Baffone we visited on a weekday at lunch, as a good sized group of family and friends, and we had the trattoria to ourselves. On our second visit we dined on a Sunday at lunch and the trattoria was completely packed with every outdoor table full, with a number of folks dining indoors as well. Certainly I would suggest if you are making a visit to Da Baffone that you make reservations first. After speaking with the owner on our first visit, we learned they own their own truffle dogs and hunt for fresh truffles often to ensure they always have a good supply on hand. The proprietor is an expert on truffles and we learned a good deal about storing and preparing fresh truffles after speaking with him.
Da Baffone offers a choice of two menus, one with truffles and the other without. The truffle menu began with a plate of mixed bruschetta, cheese, and frittata all topped with a generous helping of fresh shaved truffles. The pasta dish followed and included a large portion of fresh tagliatelle mixed with their own truffle sauce then topped with more fresh truffles. For the second course, you can enjoy an amazing truffle frittata (See MY VERSION HERE), scallopini with truffles, or a mixed grill (plate of mixed grilled meats). There are a few options for dessert, but by that point we couldn’t even consider another bite. The meal includes local wine and coffee, and the price is unbelievable reasonable in price.
The regular menu without truffles was ordered by most of the children in our group and began with a lovely mixed appetizer plate of prosciutto and melon, hot bruschetta, cheeses, and cured meats. This plate was followed with a delicious serving of fresh tagliatelle topped with tomato sauce. The mixed grill was enjoyed by all for the main course or entree, and then dessert followed. As you can see by my photos below, the portions at Da Baffone are generous, including the amount of shaved truffles used on every plate. This is certainly one trattoria I would recommend to all truffle lovers and I know we will be visiting Da Baffone often ourselves in the future whenever we need our truffle fix!
Trattoria ‘DA BAFFONE’
Santa Maria di Burano
Vocabolo Salia – 06024 Gubbio (PG)
Ph 075 9242184
Heading Into The Hills Outside Of Gubbio To Da Baffone
Mixed Antipasti Plate Covered In Shaved Truffles
Fresh Tagliatelle With Black Truffles
Sarah, Age 9 Enjoying Her Third Helping Of Truffle Pasta
Frittata With Truffles
Delicious Mixed Grill