White Alba truffles are world-renowned for their earthy gastronomic perfection. The harvest season opened this week in Piemonte (Piedmont), Italy. In Berlin, we celebrated with an exquisite truffle feast at Mitte’s exclusive Bocca di Bacco restaurant.
The annual festival, called Fiera Internatzionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, is occurring this year for the 82nd time. Beginning Saturday, October 6th until Sunday, November 18, the event has just started with many interesting activities yet to come, including a celebrity studded film festival, Tuscan gourmet events, truffle world market, and historical folklore.
Berlin’s Bocca di Bacco is famous for having fine, classic Italian cuisine such as Basil-Straccetti pasta with zucchini flowers and Caciocavallo cheese, and many other regional specialities. The glamorous trattoria is also famous for hosting Hollywood hottie guests such as George Clooney, Will Smith, Ashton Kutcher, and Robert Pattinson. It is a place to see and be seen, especially during the Berlinale Film Festival that happens in the metropolis every February.
A beautiful setting greeted us upon arrival, crisp glasses of white wine and canapés served in the pleasant area in front of the bar, while we mingled and sniffed the truffle scented air, and the highly talented chefs were hard at work preparing star worthy delights in the kitchen.
The crowd in attendance was friendly and excited, although on average several years older, which surprised me. Don’t young Berliners like truffles too? They were mostly journalists, and again a small shock at the comments and looks I got for being wired into my mobile devices while tweeting about the event. (Sidebar: I really cannot understand how journalists in this country expect to survive if they don’t get themselves onto social networks.)
After a long ceremonial opening with speeches and views of vineyards telecast back and forth live between Alba and our white linen tables in Berlin, bulbous glasses of the coveted rare fungus were passed to the trufflatti and we all took turns burying our noses deep into the intoxicatingly smelly goodness. Okay, okay, I KNOW it looks kind of disgusting, but really, these ugly fat mushrooms are a beautiful thing.
First course was a melt-in-your-mouth beef tartar under a blanket of fresh slices grated onto my plate in front of me by the brisk wrist of the discerning waiter. The best beef out of Italy, marbled and fresh, melted on the tongue.
Then more of the woody specialty on a delicately fried egg (decadent brunch idea!), followed by the main course (header image). Egg noodles with creamy butter, and more – you guessed it – perfectly aged and aromatic shavings. This course was served with a Magnum of Angelo Gaja Barbaresco red wine from 1989. 1989! A genuine privilege considering that the wines of Alba are the most renowned in the nation.
The last course was a dessert called flan, another eggy dish, but in this case, chock full of ground, fabulous, fungi. Normally I hate flan, but this stuff was so extraordinary I could eat it every day. I need to track down a recipe!
My invitation came by way of being the +1 of my crazy-cool, world-travelling blogger friend Cheryl Howard – I’m a lucky girl for sure! Thanks Cheryl! And a special mention to a travel blogger and power-foodspotter friend also in attendance, Angelika Schwaff, for being a delightful dinner mate as usual.
Want to get your Tuscan truffle fix in Berlin? The season runs from October through November so get ready to empty your wallet at this upscale Italian eatery before it’s over! Or, if you are traveling to the city in the future, a visit to the luxurious Bocca di Bacco is a must do for any special occasion.
Looking for other eating ideas? Here you can find a few of my other favorite restaurants in Berlin.