Truffle recipes prepared as Romanian first in Miercurea Ciuc-based Italian restaurant

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Liver pate with truffles, focaccia with mozzarella and truffles, or truffles with beef tenderloin are just some of the dishes served as a first in an Italian restaurant in the city of Miercurea Ciuc - Harghita County, and which exquisitely highlight the precious fungus also referred to as 'the diamond of the kitchen', given the difficulty to find it.

Photos by Gina STEFAN / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

Restaurant manager Italo De Michelis had the idea to include truffle preparations in the menu about six years ago, when someone offered him truffles to buy. He was familiar with them from his mother country Italy, where they are a quite frequently used item in local gastronomy, and was surprised and excited to learn they can be found in Romania too. This is why he tried various recipes and began using truffles in the menu, with the dishes proving immediately a real success.

Italo also developed a recipe of his own: "liver pate with truffles a la San Gennaro", which became a favorite of the customers.

''To prepare truffle pate one uses pork, chicken liver, onion, celery and carrot. Get the pork parboiled, while the vegetables are fried in oil, then add the pork, chicken liver, salt, pepper and a teaspoon of capers. After the mix simmered through, pass it twice through the mincing machine. When serving, mix with a teaspoon of truffle oil, add grated truffles and put thinly sliced truffles on top. Eat with toast and butter," Italo De Michelis details his recipe.

He says this is his house recipe and is so prized that they prepare it every day or every two days.

The Italian also designed a universal truffle sauce that is added to rice, noodles or even to beef tenderloin with truffles.

''I put a piece of butter in a pan, because butter accentuates the flavor of the truffle, then I grate the truffle, add salt, pepper, two tablespoons of sour cream, two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, a teaspoon of truffle oil, and make a sauce. This sauce goes along with rice, noodles or grilled beef tenderloins. The truffle sauce is universal, it has a very pleasant taste," says Italo.

He insists on making a point that the truffle flavor should be predominant, so that great care is required to correctly mix the ingredients.

Also on the menu of the Italian restaurant 'San Gennaro' are truffle poached eggs, or focaccia with mozzarella and truffles.

"The preparations were well received, because some customers had tried them abroad and then checked them out here too, and they immediately became a success, the more so as we serve them all year round. In the past, I used to buy less, but now we use one kilogram of truffles a month and in summer we even get to two kilograms a month. The amount that is used for one serving is ten grams of thinly sliced truffles," says Italo De Michelis.

Featuring on the menu of the Miercurea Ciuc-based restaurant are mainly black truffles, as they can be stored in the freezer, unlike white truffles which are also far more expensive and can be consumed only fresh. Whereas a kilo of black truffles costs 100 euros, white truffles can get as pricey as 1,000 euros per kilogram. Despite that, true to Italian cuisine, Italo prepares in autumn white truffle butter he then keeps in the freezer and produces at special moments to delight his customers with.

''There has been a constantly growing interest ever since we introduced truffle dishes on the menu, and customers keep asking for them. But guests coming from other cities are interested too, because here we have a broader variety of dishes with truffles compared to Brasov and Bucharest. We were the first to introduce truffles in the city's cuisine, and I think we also the top-selling in the entire county; by sales of truffle dishes we even outperform Brasov city,'' says the Italian restaurateur.

Truffles are a rather recent addition to Romanian cuisine, but now there is a substantial market for them and much of the production of both spontaneous and cultivated truffles is exported worldwide. AGERPRES

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