Dark Chocolate and White TrufflesBy Filippo BartolottaFrom Modica -Sicily- to Alba -Piedmont for the ultimate gourmet lover's tour. From the southern seas of the Mediterranean to the high picks of the Alps.
This is an over thousand miles long journey into a world of over a thousand years of history surrounded by the most pleasing landscape you can imagine.We start in Modica in the south east corner of Europe's biggest island. Right in to the heart of the Noto Valley -a world Unesco heritage site- surrounded by the Hyblaean Mountains
, this city holds the secret of one of Italy's most famous chocolate.
Pierpaolo Ruta, owner of Cioccolata Bonajuto -www.bonajuto.it-, has been making chocolate since he was born. Their tradition goes back to very ancient Atzec recipes. The Chocolate was brought to the Island by the Spanish at the beginning of the 15th C with Carlo V.The Chocolate of Modica is made with crunchy sugar crystals exactly like the old tradition because no industrial process has ever made it there. As a result Bonajuto's product are super pure and intense with a lot of character. This is the combination not only of first quality raw material and a long established traditions, but it above all the awareness and skill of the Ruta family and artisans. Try to match it with a sweet dessert wine like Tenuta delle Ripalte Aleatico 2007. This is a delicate and yet intense red dessert wine made of Indigenous grape Aleatico coming from another island: Elba on the Tuscan Coast. With pure cheery fruit, Mediterranean herbs and cinnamon this wine treat enhances the purity of Bonajuto's creations in the most natural way.My suggestion is to keep in your cupboard a serious stash of Bonajuto's chocolate ingots next to Tenuta delle Ripalte Aleatico. I can't think of any better welcome treat to any of your guests coming to visit you!
Now, from Modica to Alba the journey is pretty long. One swanky way to do it would be a lovely helicopter ride or a more classic airplane from Catania to Torino.
Make sure you pack proper trekking equipment in your luggage as going for truffle hunt in Langhe isn't just a walk! But be sure you will be rewarded with some very sexy gourmet treat. This year White Truffles are abundant -which means also cheaper and extremely good.
These underground mushrooms are very difficult to find. Only five or six areas of Italy can give great results. On an average season the cost would be between 3500 and 5000 for the White and a tenth of the cost for the black which can instead be found anywhere in Europe. This year the very generous rain pattern has been been helping a lot.In order for white truffles to ripe at least three months are needed after an important rainy period. These underground mushrooms have a symbiosis with the roots of some trees: each feeds the other one out some important nutrients. Then when is time the truffle would send more powerful aromas that very specially trained dogs are able to detect.
The truffle hunt is a great morning out in the forrest near Barolo Land. It is something that can be done with licensed "hunters" and their precious little dogs. Once the hunt is over is time to go for lunch. A lot of the restaurants and trattorias I know there would allow me to bring in my own stuff. Of course that is never going to be enough anyway: and made taglierini always ask for more!
I know you are going to ask what's best with it! Well you might also know my answer, but here it comes anyway. If it you leave either in NYC or SFC you might come across to some very pretty delicious 1982 Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis, this is a great drink now combining strength and elegance. Easier to find would be the same cru on the 2006 vintage Luciano Sandrone Cannubi Boschis 2006. This is a more austere, still a baby Barolo with a huge potential, I believe bigger then the '82.A great Nebbiolo option is the super juicy Uvaggio 2007 by Propriet Sperino.Which ever option you go for, make sure you enjoy with friends.