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If I could relive any vacation, Umbria has got to be it.

Not Dordogne where we devour foie gras 2 meals a day, 2 courses a meal. Not Bordeaux where we down 2 bottles lunch and dinner. Not Alsace where Riesling, choucroute garnie and tarte flambée are as good as it gets. Not Schwarzwald where we bike through vineyards and take Roman bath.

Definitely forget about the touristy Provence and Tuscany.

 OK, the Basque country would be right up there but, Umbria was magical. The expanse of Piano Grande, the pork smell permeating every stone, every wall at Norcia, and the truffle: Everyday, every meal, every course. The smell, the sight, haunt me still.

Then 2 months ago, a hot summer afternoon, the opportunity presented itself. Just making my usual delivery on behalf of Full Circle Farm, there they were: 5 or 6 of black bumpy gold on the kitchen counter of Alexander’s Steak House. The truffle guy is making his delivery too? “Where from? How much? Summer?” Everybody knows summer truffle is weak. “Winter, from Tasmania. Same strand as Umbria”. Ding!

“I can sell you one. $700 a pound, same as the restaurant.”

So I am getting WHOLESALE price now?! In that case … I pointed at the smallest one and he weighed it on the drug dealer’s scale: “$80, and I only take cash.” Right away, I grabbed Hayden and headed out to the mall next door to look for an ATM. When we returned, he already packed up and was waiting for me outside the kitchen backdoor. Next to his van, I gave him 4 Andrew Jackson’s and he handed me a vacuum-sealed little bump.

One day Hayden would be lying on a couch hypnotized by his therapist: “I was very young … in a parking lot … Mom gave this guy a stack of cash and took a small package from him … “

Prime rib with Périgueux sauce and more truffle

Tasmanian truffle may not be as pungent as the Umbrian one I remembered. But with a glass of Sagrantino we hand-carried back from Montefalco, a steaming plate of homemade tagliatelle, and a table full of great company, this is as good as it gets.

It would be just like the dining room of La Fornace di Mastro Giogio at Gubbio, after I get my hands on a prosciutto stand.

 To dream.

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