Very Expensive Fried Eggs
Mmmmm, truffles. Especially white truffles. One of the most expensive and rare cooking ingredients in the world, when you have an opportunity to experience a dish loaded with white truffle, you DO NOT pass it up. So was my thinking when seated at a linen covered table in the charming ristorante Locanda del Colle da Oscar situated below the imposing Borgo Di Tabiano Castello.
But I am jumping the gun a bit, let me first tell you how we arrived at this wonderful location.
Being "foodies" Elke and I decided to plan a week long culinary excursion to the breadbasket of Italy, Emilia–Romagna. This region of Italy sits along the river Po which bisects the country and is the transition point between the north and south of Italy. The names of the towns in this region are synonymous with exceptional food, foremost among them Parma and Bologna. Our plan was to eat our way through this area but we needed a central location to base ourselves and the castle at Tabiano was perfect.
Borgo Di Tabiano Castello is an actual castle with actual royalty living in it. Once a fortress, originally built in the 11th century, the lower buildings of the castle have been converted into charming and luxurious guest accomodations as well as a full service spa with a cave grotto including a hot tub and sauna. We first discovered that royalty may still live within the private sections of the castle when my wife, struggling with her luggage, received a bit of help from a kind gentleman who had just arrived ouside the front desk on a white horse (I am NOT kidding). As he was lugging the heavy bags up the steep hill to our room, Elke turned and asked how long he had worked there, to which he replied that he owned the place. During a later conversation with this kind gentleman, I asked how long he had lived there, assuming he, as is so common, had bought the place to convert to a hotel. He replied that he had lived there his whole life and that his family had lived there for 600 years! After that Elke and referred to him simply as "The Duke."
Russ, you're losing the thread here...what about the expensive fried eggs...Sorry, I'm getting there.
After a long day of flying and driving we were thrilled to learn that just below the castle walls stood a tiny ristorante called Locanda del Colle da Oscar. We knew nothing about it and it was not in our research, but exhaustion won out and we decided to pop in. The proprietor, Oscar, was a jovial and charming fellow who was happy to accomodate us in the tiny and somewhat over-crowded space. He seated us at a table and, in his broken english (which was far better than my italian), he explained that they had a special of fried eggs or buttered pasta with white truffles. Well, he had me at truffles. One of the reasons we were in the area in the autumn was because it was truffle and porcini mushroom season and I intended to eat as much of them as I could. The 4 of us at the table ordered the eggs and were thrilled when they arrived and our serving woman, removing a baby fist sized white truffle from a small box like hidden treasure, proceeded to shave enormous mounds of fresh white truffle over the top of each of our eggs.
Digging in, the eggs served as a simple platform of richness and salt to support the subtle earthiness and pungency of the truffles. We devoured our eggs and moved on to secondi but nothing on the menu compared to what we started with, though everythig was spectacular.
When the bill finally came we learned that our fabulous eggs cost 36 euro each, which, at the time, was about 50 dollars. So the 4 of us had $200 worth of eggs and truffles. However, that price did not deter us from repeating the experience one more time during our visit!
In future tours we intend to share this experience with our clients. We will stay at Tabiano Castello, have a wonderful meal with Oscar and tour farms where they make the fabulous hams and cheeses that the area is so famous for.
Have you ever been to Emelia-Romagna? What did you eat? Leave a comment!