Sformato is a soufflé dish, made from various ingredients – vegetables, cheese, bread crumbs – held together with a béchamel or egg.
One of Italy’s most renowned culinary indulgences is the truffle. Found throughout northern and central Italy, we enjoy them on many destinations on our Italiaoutdoors cycling tours, from the Veneto and Piedmonte to Umbria and Tuscany. Hidden away in forests, buried at the foot of oak trees, truffles are difficult to find, requiring the use of a trained pig or dog with the olfactory capabilities to smell the tuber that we humans lack. But it is precisely this intense, earthy, ripe flavor that makes it such a sought after specialty for chefs and gourmets.
Black truffles are more widespread than white, found in the Veneto region, as well as Tuscany and Umbria. There are different types of black truffle, from the Tuber melanosporum, known as the Perigord black truffle in France, but which is known in Italy as the Tartufo di Spoleto or Tartufo di Norcia. The other main edible black truffles are the black summer truffle also known as the scorzone (Tuber aestivum) and its relative the uncinato (Tuber uncinatum).
Truffles are customarily served as the elegant ingredient in a pretty simple dish, allowing the wonderful aroma and deep, dense flavor to shine – competing flavors in this dish would be overly complicated and detract from this culinary gem. They are often served over a simple fresh pasta, or accompanied by an egg, or cheese.
Kathy Bechtel’s obsession with food and cooking began as a teenager. After years following a traditional career path as a telecommunications engineer, she left to attend culinary school and wine training, and is now combining her passions for food and wine, the outdoors, and travel as owner and Culinary Tour Director of Italiaoutdoors. In this role, Kathy leads small bicycle, skiing and walking tours that explore the authentic regional cuisines, local products and undiscovered wines of Northeastern Italy.