April Bloomfield, Chef and co-owner of the Spotted Pig and author extraordinaire, talks about why truffles make her weak
Chef April Bloomfield could be described as a simple gal who likes simple straightforward food. Her cooking style reflects much of what she learned from years working at London’s famed The River Café. There Bloomfield not only honed her skills in an Italian kitchen, but she traveled with her mentors Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. Their culinary quests often took them to Italy where meals were longer than the plane flight and always plentiful. Bloomfield recalls one such visit to Piedmont, in Italy’s northwest corner wedged between France and Switzerland and known for their bounty of truffles.
“I remember having tagliarini with truffles,” says Bloomfield. “They were shaving truffles, but not stopping.” Bloomfield thought perhaps the trattoria’s generosity was because she and her crew were chefs, but in enchanted Italy, she realized it was likely the norm. “You’d eat your pasta and you’d still have remaining pasta but no truffles,” she explained, “so they’d come back and shave lashings of heady and delicious white truffles.”
While Bloomfield sometimes fancies those rare ingredients, the $4,000 a pound mushrooms are not something she uses in her own culinary repertoire. If she does however have the craving stateside, she heads to friend Mario Batali’s Lupa. On a recent outing Chef Marc Ladner prepared a broth from game birds which he served over grated pasta. “It was different, different sizes but really rustic,” says Bloomfield. The “peasanty but elegant” pasta was decadently accented with those Piedmont paper-thin truffles which she inhaled literally and figuratively. “Having that fragrance waft under your nose, it’s so heavenly.”
October is open season for truffles, so keep an eye out for restaurants featuring the rare and earthy fungi, but don’t expect to find them at any of Bloomfield’s refined-rustic restaurants.