Blog 12 November 2016
Fiera del Tartufo or Truffle fair at San Miniato
Good friends Carol and David suggested a trip to San Miniato to visit the annual truffle fair and taste the delights of this rather peculiar fungus. Technically speaking the truffle is the ‘fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus! The time to gather this curious food item is in late autumn and winter and San Miniato is particularly famous in Tuscany for the highly prized, and highly priced white truffle.
With another couple of good friends Eddie and Karen we set off early on a Saturday morning and arrived in San Miniato in good time to enjoy the views from this hill-top town with a good cappuccino. San Miniato is an historic and interesting city sited near the confluence of the rivers Arno and Elsa in the lower Valdarno and was on the important pilgrimage route from Rome to Canterbury known as the Via Francigena. Its territories were constantly fought over by Guelph and Ghibelline supporters from Florence and Pisa during the 14th century.
Carol, an excellent cook herself, had arrange a tasting menu for lunch and so we headed eagerly for the well-organised stalls displaying all local produce as well as the prized truffles.
Getting to San Miniato early was a good idea as by mid-morning the town as alive with people like us, wandering around tasting and sampling wonderfully flavoured products from olives and oils to cheeses and sausages, not mention all manner of truffle-based creams and sauces and local wines of course! We had to remember that we also had our lunch waiting for us which was in a small enoteca that had a set menu with the main dish of white truffle.
Traditionally here white truffles are served as shavings over lightly fried eggs so as the very delicate flavour of this variety of truffle can be most appreciated. For me it was a surprise since I had in mind the usual unmistakable flavour of the more pungent black truffle.
Our day continued as we strolled in the afternoon sunshine each buying several products as well as the obligatory truffle-shaver. For myself I came away with a jar of pesciolini marinati produced by Delizie del Marchesato from Firenze. This consisted of a jar of finely sliced whitebait in white wine vinegar, sunflower oil and seasonings and is used as a delicious antipasto on crostini. Buon appetito!