On moderation and militants
Moderation has gone out of fashion according to Giorgio Locatelli. “Nowadays people want lots of everything all year round whenever they want it” he says. He is aware of the irony of this statement; we are sitting on the terrace at Rondo Locatelli in Atlantis, The Palm which is in Dubai – a city that has become a by-word for bigger, greater, more extravagant i.e. excess.
Giorgio and his team had just flown in from Italy and he was cradling the purpose of his journey; a plate of new season white truffles from Umbria, knobbly and dust-coloured, nestled under a glass dome. He carefully lifted the lid and the heady, musky, irresistible aroma reached my end of the table.
I’d heard Giorgio’s memories of his annual truffle-buying trip with his father or grandfather before. They would all pile into a tiny Fiat and hand over a wad of notes to a shady looking man at a garage, “like we were buying drugs or something” (pronounced drags) he laughs. Atlantis had invited me to taste the new season truffle menu in 2010 and 2011, plus I had cooked with Giorgio at Taste of Dubai. However, his explanation of the sensitivity of truffles to environmental factors (they won’t grow in a flight path or near a road) led to an increasingly impassioned diatribe on seasonality, sustainability and why vegetable gardens are good. He hardly paused for breath, but when he did I managed to chip-in in agreement “and people believe the view peddled by the chemical companies that the only way of feeding the world is through intensive agriculture.” He had the ear of everyone at the table and was on a roll! We were ready to take up arms (well perhaps forks and hoes) and march.
While Giorgio was speaking, we were served little samples of the white truffle menu, all very simple and protein or carbohydrate rich to set off the flavour of the truffle. Fancy dishes should be avoided at all costs according to Giorgio. First white four cheese pizza topped with truffle, then an exquisite dish of fluffy scrambled egg with truffle and then the ambrosial risotto al tartufo, truly the food of the gods.
The sun was lowering and our visit came to an end. After posing for a few photographs we took our leave. Giorgio raised his fist with a shout and a grin “militante!”
The special white truffle menu is available at Ronda Locatelli from October 25th and continues as long as the season allows.