Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

After our friends Frances and Mauro told us about tartuffo (truffles) they ate in Italy, and how only a few specially trained dogs are able to sniff them out under the ground in the woods, Mr F and I were intrigued to go taste them. Eetaly = to eat in our dictionary.

We spent a week in the Piedmonte region up in the north-west of Italy in October 2009.     Did you know Cinzano, Martini, solid chocolate bars, Lavazza coffee, Nutella, bread sticks, and The Slow Food movement all originated in Piedmont?

Map of the Piedmonte region

Our friend Frances who has a Master’s degree from the Slow Food University in Italy – founded “to promote awareness of good food and nutrition” – is fluent in Italian and is also an accredited wine sommelier, helped make our trip into a gastronomic success when she and her friend Manuela (also a sommelier) spent the weekend with us at an agriturismo in the Piedmonte region.

mushrooms for sale in Italy

Their food tour of the area included a Saturday farmers market, a truffle fair, an organic winery, beautiful hilltop towns with churches and terraced vineyards, plus an introduction to some of the best food we’ve ever eaten.

At each restaurant Frances patiently translated the menu for us, and explained what we should eat, and why, and we dutifully ate it all – bunny, goat, raw ground veal, Vitello tonnato (Veal with Tuna sauce) – and drank some of the best wines of the region, both still and sparkling (including Asti Spumante because Asti’s a town in the region), plus my good friend always explained my allergies to the waiters.

[Before we left for our holiday everyone asked me, “What will you eat?”   To be honest, I had no idea whether I’d be able to eat anything, I’m allergic to many foods which are a staple of the Italian diet, but I had no problems as all the meals we ate in Italy were freshly made without any artificial colorings or additives.]

selection of mushrooms for sale

We were fortunate that the weekend we visited Alba was the  “79th International Tartuffo Bianco (White Truffle) Fair“.  Dozens of truffle vendors had gathered to sell their wares.

Truffle vendor

Mr F and I ate tartuffo (truffles) at Osteria Italia in a little hilltop village near Alba, with Frances,  her cousin Paulo (who is the editor of an Italian food magazine), his wife, and Manuela.  It was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to photograph my food. 🙂

We were told the best way to appreciate truffles is with an egg, and the second best is with pasta.

  • I chose fresh pasta with freshly grated truffle for my second course
  • Mr F ordered poached egg in a light cheese sauce with grated truffle for his third course

Both were excellent choices.

Paulo selected the tartuffo for us from this platter. It was weighed right at the table on the silver thing, which is a scale…

Truffle selection

The white truffle he chose was the size of a prune and cost 42 Euros! (If I’d understood Italian I don’t think I would have ordered it.)

When the server brought me my plate of freshly-made-Italian-pasta and grated the tartuffo for me it looked and smelled so delicious, and I was so delighted I said, “Oh my god!” as I admired it.

The server, a sweet young woman in her twenties, clapped her hand to her mouth, squealed and said something rapidly in Italian to which everyone at the table laughed, and then she ran back to the bar counter and said something to the three people working there and they all stopped what they were doing and stared at me.

“What just happened?” I asked my table companions. “Did I do something?”

“You said ‘ohmygod!'” Frances told me.

“Yeah, so what?” I said

“There’s a very funny commercial playing on TV at the moment where an English woman says ‘Oh my god!’ several times. The young woman serving us had no idea that English people really said it. She thought it was just a joke.”


Hams hanging from the ceiling in a tiny deli. Another ohmygod moment.

Truffles stink like old socks, but when you eat them they have an intense earthy-musty flavor that is delicious!


Have you eaten tartuffo, or had an ohmygod experience in a foreign country?

If you’d like to see some of the other WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge posts on “Foreign”, click here

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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66 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

  1. Nandini says:

    Very interesting, Rose. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Looks and sounds wonderful.. A part of Italy that I haven’t visited but now realise that I need to!

    • dearrosie says:

      I’ve written about another place that you haven’t visited Andrew? My goodness! Well I’m delighted to introduce you to Piedmonte. It has the same cheese, wine, olives, cobblestone villages as Tuscany but none of those tourists with loud voices who travel in large tour buses… 🙂

  3. I love Italy and think the country is one big ohmygod experience. What a wonderful trip you had there! I’m not jealous one bit. (Lie.) AA Hubby and I have friends (a couple) who go to Tuscany every year, and the wife LOVES truffles. I’m sharing this post with her. I love your photos, Rosie.

    • dearrosie says:

      It was, to use a clichee, the holiday of a lifetime. We spent a week in Piedmonte, but our vacation was three weeks – we also went to Tuscany, Modena, Milan, and the Cinque Terre. The photo at the top of my blog is from a walk we took along the path linking the Cinque Terre. It’s one of my all time favorite walks.
      (If you’re interested you can find my earlier posts on Italy in the Search box on the top right.)
      Thanks AA. I’m happy to know you like my photos AA.

  4. shoreacres says:

    I don’t believe I’m going to try truffles any time soon. On the other hand, I did come across fruit bat in my bowl one evening in the Liberian bush, and it was quite good. Sometimes, if you don’t know what it is ahead of time, the prejudices don’t kick in quite as quickly!

    On the other hand, the Piedmont sounds like my kind of place. I love Nutella, Asti Spumante, breadsticks, Cinzano, block chocolate and slow anything, so I think I’d feel right at home. And your photo of the hams is a delight.

    Still, even after a second read and increased admiration for your adventurous spirit, I believe I’ll stick with the chocolate truffles!

    • dearrosie says:

      Did you find the fruit bat alive in your fruit bowl, or roasted in your dinner plate? Does bat taste like chicken?

      When we visited friends in Arkansas they offered to cook us a squirrel stew but when they looked in their freezer they didn’t have any squirrels left. I was sorry, but relieved. I think you know what I mean.

      The Slow Food Movement is very much alive in Piedmonte. I wrote about driving 60 miles for my favorite gelato – GROM – when it opened in Malibu. They opened their first store in Turino.

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  6. Arindam says:

    I have never been to any foreign country. So everything seems new and interesting to me, when someone shares his/her experience in another part of world. Great post Rosie Auntie. I know you enjoy travelling, so I am sure this week’s theme was an easy task for you. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m delighted to know you enjoy traveling with me Arindam.
      Actually this week’s post was a real challenge for me, because I have so many photos and experiences I could’ve shared. I spent hours going through my pictures trying to decide what to write about.

  7. Lucky you to have such great friends to guide you through every aspect of your trip, culinary and otherwise. It looked like an incredible journey.

    We have eaten truffles and even lived in a Swiss village with a internationally famous truffle smelling dog. We had them often, usually delicately shaved atop some freshly made pasta. Where we were in Switzerland wasn’t far from the Piedmont region border so we moseyed into Italy as you might drive to Santa Barbara.

    We lived in Paris before Switzerland where I had daily ohmygod moments, smelling the freshly made almond croissants coming from the bakery right under our apartment. Good thing we were poor living in Paris and had to walk everywhere – those croissants were wicked good….and who can eat just one? Not I.

    PS: There’s an incredible Italian market in NYC, owned by Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich. It’s called Eataly! 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      You’ve done some interesting traveling EOS. Lucky you to meet such a famous truffle smelling dog. Mr F really-really-really wanted to go out with a man and his dog on a truffle expedition but we couldn’t find anyone willing to take him. I don’t think they share the places where they find their truffles.

      J’adore croissants. Whenever someone I know goes to France I tell them I don’t want a gift but please just have a breakfast cafe au lait and a croissant for me. I can’t imagine the pleasure of living above a bakery in Paris and waking up each and every morning to the scent of freshly baked croissants… ohmygod!

      I haven’t eaten at Eataly in NYC but Mr F has and he didn’t like it – too crowded and too “pretentious”. We ate at the original “Eataly” restaurant in Turin and it was a great experience and a great meal.

  8. Linda Shapiro says:

    I loved reading every word you wrote. You are a delight!! Best of all is that you can remember so much. My brain stopped working the way it used to ages ago.

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m a foodie, I don’t forget a good meal. I still remember the wonderful lunch you whipped up at the last minute when we ate at your house last year, and the delicious fruit 🙂

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  11. eof737 says:

    Now I’m hungry…. TY for all the delicious photos and words. 😉

  12. Veronica Roth says:

    Nice. I remember collecting wild mushrooms as a child in the Czech Republic and now I’m completely addicted to them. I still love to find them in the fall but nice that they are more readily available in the markets these days.

    • dearrosie says:

      I wouldn’t dare pick wild mushrooms, you are very fortunate that you were taught which wild mushrooms are safe to eat.

      I remember not so many years ago all we could buy over here were white button mushrooms. I’m so glad that so many different varieties of mushrooms are readily available.

      Could you find truffles in the Czech Republic?

  13. sybil says:

    ground raw veal … hmmmmm — not sure about that one Rosie …

  14. Hi Rosie – I’m trying to read the reblogged post about Wazir, but the link is being wonky on my “Reader” page – I get “Page not found.” So, I thought I’d hop over and just read it here, but I don’t see it. Am I doing something wrong? I am computer-challenged at times!

  15. This is just a delightful recounting of your dining adventure, Roseanne! I love truffle oil, but I have never yet had a true truffle. I adore the oil, so I can only assume the “real thing” must be amazing. You were really an adventurous eater, I think, so good for you for jumping in and making the absolute most of the experience. That’s so interesting to me about the Slow Food Movement beginning in the region and your friend having a degree from the university. I didn’t know that! What a great story…How fun that you gave the young woman a good laugh in return! 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Though we’ve eaten truffles we’ve never used truffle oil. There are several chefs in this country who import truffles, but I’m glad we waited to eat them in Italy, because the atmosphere in the little restaurant on that hilltop, together with the group of “foodies” around the table added to make the dinner *perfect*. I can still taste that pasta 🙂

      A large part of traveling is the food, and if you only eat the food you’ve eaten before, you miss so much of the journey. When I walked in Spain most of the other pilgrims shuddered and refused to taste the pulpo (octopus) which was so delicious…

      Mr F and I have always been concerned about the food we eat, and have never understood how the Americans eat all that fast-food laced with chemicals and colorings.
      I think I must write a post on the Slow Food Movement! Alice Waters, the chef and founder of “Chez Panisse” in Berkley, is the vice president of the Slow Food movement, which was founded in Italy in 1986 to combat the rise of fast food and unhealthy eating.

      • I think a post would be good. I subscribe to all the Slow Food updates and follow it pretty closely. One reason I haven’t said more on my blog is that the majority of my friends are sick of hearing me talk about this subject. LOL! I will look forward to talking with you! 🙂

      • dearrosie says:

        There aren’t many people in the US who’ve heard of the Slow Food Movement, I’m delighted to meet a kindred eater.
        I assume you’re also frustrated about all the money monsanto et al are throwing into anti Proposition 37 ads?

  16. aFrankAngle says:

    OMG … you have been to Piedmont? I’m jealous …. and I want one of those hams and a bottles of barolo.

  17. I have always wondered about mushroom truffles. All I know is chocolates from a box. An OMG moment…in Paris on a cold rainy day I ordered steak tartare and was served raw ground steak with a raw egg nested in the middle of the mound of meat. Not what I was expecting! Glad I learned that with my roommate–the information came in handy years later.

    • dearrosie says:

      I don’t know why chocolate truffles have the same name as tartuffo… More research waiting for me…

      We were in Paris many years ago, and I don’t remember whether the steak tartare we ate came with a raw egg in the middle – it’s definitely is an OMG/eeooww moment… You’re fortunate your roommate told you about it.

  18. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge : Foreign « Cheryl Andrews

  19. Yum! For me the omg moment comes from collecting my own mushrooms – I don’t have the skilled nose of a dog or pig to find truffles, but chanterelles are quite amazing too! There’s nothing like scouring the woods for mushrooms and then coming back and cooking them for dinner!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Adventure Nick
      I’d really really really love to eat a meal of freshly picked wild mushrooms but I’ve never had that pleasure basically because I don’t know which ones are safe to eat. Where do you live? Can I join you in a mushroom picking expedition? I’ll bring the wine.

  20. jane tims says:

    Wow! I love the perspective in the two landscape photos! Jane

  21. I could just dive into those mushrooms. What fabulous pictures. And to see such huge ones – must have been a real treat in person. Wow.

    • dearrosie says:

      I know you can order truffles at certain high end restaurants in the US, but I’m glad we waited to eat them in Italy, because the atmosphere in that little restaurant is what made it all so *perfect*. I can still taste that pasta 🙂

  22. fotograffer says:

    Such an interesting post and great photos.

  23. bronxboy55 says:

    I wish I liked mushrooms, Rosie, but I can’t get past the texture. My first pizza in Naples was an ohmygod moment. Simple food is the best, isn’t it? Thanks for another great post.

    • dearrosie says:

      When you eat truffles you don’t bite into a “piece” of mushroom because you eat it grated over the pasta or eggs, which means each mouthful includes the flavor of the tartuffo, but not the chewy texture of “mushroom”.

      I haven’t been to Naples but I have heard about their pizzas (and gelato!). I can imagine that it must be an ohmygod moment. Thanks Charles.

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  25. Kathy says:

    Rosie, I have never ever eaten truffles but someday hope to try! Thank you for this informative fun post. You always have such an international flavor. I like that.

    • dearrosie says:

      Kathy be warned that truffles really “stink” so don’t spend too long smelling them or you’ll lose your appetite. Just grate some onto your egg or pasta, and Buon Appetito!

  26. Robin says:

    Looks and sounds like a beautiful trip and meal. I’ve never eaten truffles, but am willing to try them if given the opportunity. I’ve had a few “oh my god” moments while traveling, especially in Scotland. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      My goodness Robin, how did I miss answering this comment?
      It was a holiday that keeps giving because I can still taste so many of those wonderful meals. Yummy…

      I had an “oh my god” moment years ago in Scotland when the people we were staying with made me eat black pudding… ugh!

  27. munchow says:

    Truffles are hard to find in Norway, but I have tasted them and do really think much of them. But I definitely appreciate the Italian kitchen. So much excellent food – and yes excellent wine.

    • dearrosie says:

      We’ve never been to any of the Scandinavian countries. I’d love to visit Norway, and discover the Norwegian kitchen. What are the specialties – I imagine you must eat a lot of fish? I love smoked salmon on a bagel. How do you eat it in Norway?

      • munchow says:

        Traditional Norwegian food is kind of boring, but has improved over the last decades with influences from other countries. Eating fish or not depends whether you live by the coast or not. I do and I love fish. Smoked salmon we usually eat on bread topped with scrabbled eggs.

  28. Our Adventure in Croatia says:

    I’m Italian so all that food is heaven on earth to me!

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