Strolling past L.Booth, the Wild Mushroom Company, in Borough Market on Saturday, I saw that they had some T.Magnatum in stock. Woohoo! White truffles! And at the very reasonable price of a mere £1900 a kilo. I bought a 12g node and then hefted it into a box of eggs. My intention was to have some of it with scrambled eggs and some with a risotto. When I got home I did some reading and changed my mind about what to cook . . . a fonduta made with Fontina cheese.
Fonduta is an Italian version of fondue. The Swiss version is aromatic, usually using a mix of Emmenthal, Gruyère, perhaps raclette, with kirsch. Fonduta has a less pronounced flavour meaning it acts as an ideal backdrop for superbly smelly truffles. It also differs from Swiss fondue in that it has eggs stirred into it.
I popped down to Borough during my lunch break on Monday, picked up a couple more truffles (I was aiming for a bit hit of truffle here), a large wedge of Fontina and some Jersey milk from Neal's Yard. I was glad to find Booth happy to accept my custom on a Monday and also pleased to discover that the Italian deli on Cathedral Street is run by some nice guys who supply Locatelli. Later I stopped off at Uncorked where they recommended a Gorelli Montalcino di Brunello, just tannic enough to cope with the cheese.
Fonduta is an emulsion, like hollandaise and mayonnaise. You're aiming for one ingredient to be held stable within the other, e.g. oil in egg yolk. In fonduta we're trying to combine melted cheese and milk. All the recipes I checked said to steep the cheese in milk - Carluccio says 2-3 hours, Elizabeth David says at least 4 hours, this is so the milk is absorbed. I was on an after work supper schedule, so 2 hours is all I had . . .
I stirred the cheese and milk over a bain marie. And stirred. And stirred.
And before I knew it the water in the bain marie had boiled, the mix had overheated and instead of a nice smooth emulsion I had a load of stringy cheese covered in warm milk. Oh well, I stirred the egg yolks in anyway and then shaved the truffles over the top.
It turned out to be exceptionally more-ish and the wine was delicious. Antonia and I dug in with toast and were quicky full. After she left I picked through the remaining milk and cheese and chomped through the last of the truffle pieces, not wanting to waste a flake of it.
I turned to my brother for help with the post-mortem. He advised that a good whisk using a hand blender would have rescued it. Also, that a diffuser rather than a bain marie might be easier to control. I still have half the Fontina left, hmmm . . . all I need now is another truffle . . .