Truffle, tartufo in Italian, has an unforgettable aroma and incomparable flavor. Earthy, pungent, and unique, truffles appear on menus all over Italy. Autumn is considered the season for the white truffle. Black ones are harvested in Summer. Thankfully, that means some type of truffle can be found whenever you go!
Le Marche is one of the regions in Italy naturally blessed with the truffle. Technically it’s a mushroom, but we don’t recommend calling it that! It’s a bit like saying, “a car” in regards to a new Ferrari!
Truffles are the king of mushrooms, and arguably of Italian cuisine in general. They grow beneath oak trees, and typically in Italy they are hunted by specially trained dogs. The adorably fluffy Lagotto Romagnolo is specifically bred to sniff out the prized truffles, though other breeds can be trained as well.
Among the most spectacular ways to try truffle is with pasta. You will notice if you ever have it in Italy, truffle is never served with an overpowering sauce. The truffle is the flavor, and anything else serves only to enhance it.
You can find this exquisite flavor infused into olive oils, shaved fresh on top of your meal, or dried and mixed into salts and pastas. Through several years now of seeking out the best truffle products, I can assure you, quality matters.
We got so excited in the airport before leaving Italy last time to find a little jar of truffle salt. Expecting it to be perfect, we bought some, only to discover it had none of the truffle flavor we had come to know in other products, not marketed for tourists. Lesson learned.
Mia Emilia’s Tagliatelle al Tartufo is exactly the quality we were hoping for. A pasta made with love and pride. Rest assured these makers know the delight inside every noodle. They know it is a flavor unlike anything else. Artisanal products like this pasta are born from passion.
The pasta comes from the fields of Monte San Giusto in the region of Le Marche, an authentic area of Italy that is almost entirely untouched by tourism. This authenticity allows the land to be what it was created for, rich and generous in its natural splendor. Wheat fields cover these hills, and the family who started La Pasta di Aldo takes pride in crafting pastas with a homemade feel that is impossible to achieve in big production factories.
Luigi and Maria selected the name Aldo as an acronym for their two last names combined. Hers is Alzapiedi and his is Donnari. So, they not only combined their names for the company but also their talents and ideas, and most importantly, their passion.
They tell us that their hearts are united by passion for beauty and quality. Each learned from their grandmother, who learned from her own, and so the tradition continues. Luigi and Maria’s stories are of their grandmothers singing as they mixed the dough in their kitchens. I love their words, “…as if to instill their harmonies and joy into its very fabric.” Isn’t that beautiful?
A beautiful concept, and dedicated passion combine to give those of us fortunate enough to taste their products an experience as much as a meal.
These pastas are so different from the big production pastas we readily find on grocery shelves. Made with local wheat, and ancient traditions, they have a texture I have only tasted a few times in my life. That texture combined with the unmistakable flavor of truffle is one of life’s true joys.
Luigi and Maria, the makers of Mia Emilia’s fabulous Tagliatelle al Tartufo, recommend it with butter and seasoned cheeses. They tell us the flavor of the pasta is enough without a strong sauce, we need to coat the pasta and highlight the truffle flavor inside the noodles, not smother it.
When in Italy, I order truffle pasta anytime I see it on the menu. What I love about this dish is that it is so simple. You can really taste the wheat in the noodles, and truffles on top seem to infuse their flavor and aroma into every bite.
What I love so dearly about travel to Italy and Italian products is the same. There is a quality of life and food in Italy that is so different from ours. It is as if when we eat Italian products, we inherently adopt their lifestyle if only for a meal.
We put our phones down. We select a good, Italian wine and pour it into our special glasses, and during that meal we actually talk with each other. Maybe we talk about Italy, maybe the future, maybe the day we’ve had. We inhale deeply into our glass, and relaxation spreads throughout our bodies. We eat slowly and taste every bite. We eat well, drink well, sleep well. What a lovely feeling to fall asleep smiling and to return to Italy…if only in our dreams.