Orecchiette with Black Truffle Tapenade – with Video Tutorial

Since coming to Europe I’ve tried numerous times to meet up with CouchSurfers, but to no avail. Have you heard of CouchSurfing? Do you surf? Have you been needlessly emotionally tortured by CouchSurfers? I have!

Orecchiette with Black Truffle Tapenade

In Madrid I’d made dinner plans with three different people – THREE – all of whom stood me up. Except they didn’t really stand me up, they got to the restaurant forty minutes after the time we’d agreed on, which was long after I’d given up waiting and left. A later attempt at meeting a CouchSurfer at the Prado in Madrid failed because she showed up 45 minutes late.  Or so she said, though she could have easily spotted me and ran the opposite direction. After how many times being stood up do you have to take a good look at yourself and ask, how ugly am I?

So when I agreed to a CouchSurfing picnic meet-up here in Bologna, I was skeptical. Ten or so people had agreed to meet at the park behind my apartment, and if I ended up being stood up for an event I didn’t even coordinate then I was going to set myself on fire. Luckily, it ended up being the most successful (read: only) CouchSurfing event I’ve ever been to and we had 8 people show, including myself, which consisted of a few native Italians, a German, an American, a Brit and a Pole.

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Among the food items were baguettes, proscuitto and cheese cubes, fresh in-season fruits and the obligatory wine and beer, because it’s not a picnic until livers are put to the test. I’d originally planned on making orecchiette with a black truffle tapenade, but then remembered this was a low-key picnic with strangers and not an outing in the Hamptons with the Real Housewives of New York. Unfortunately.


One of the Italians, an affable young guy named Stefano, had brought the first-pick-of-the-season figs to share and now I’m a man obsessed. Before the picnic, the only figs I’d ever eaten were the dreary dried figs, and whatever nonsense they put inside Fig Newtons; a flavor that depresses me more than an American Idol marathon. During a funeral. For kittens.

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy


The insides of true figs are juicy, refreshing and have a consistency comparable to a spreadable jam rather than the fibrous texture I’m used to finding inside a fruit.  I ended up wrapping the pulpy fig viscera in a thin veil of proscuitto, and all of a sudden life made sense. Philosophers, throw away your scholarly merits and hang your heads in shame, the meaning of life is figs.


Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Fresh figs

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

After we finished the picnic 4.5 hours later, I walked through the park – an urban paradise of sorts — and strolled along the opaque green river that ran through it. I watched as dozens of turtles struggled to climb over one another, snapping at the swarms of minnows that crowded them, and I crossed the bridge where they congregated. On the opposite side was a sprawl of greenery and rolling hills that held sparsely placed houses, and all around me were well-coiffed antiestablishment hipsters holding jam sessions with bongos and out-of-tune guitars, as well as young couples canoodling in the shade.

I leave for France in a week, and I’m really, really going to miss this place.

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy

Picnicking in Bologna, Italy



Making orecchiette:

Since I didn’t make this for the picnic, I guess I can share it with you instead!

For this dough, I used a basic combination of flour and water. You make it using the same technique shown here, just with water instead of egg. You will want to use 50 grams of water for every 100 grams of flour, or roughly 1/5 of a cup of water for every ¾ cup of flour. This may change depending upon the humidity outside and what type of flour you use – I prefer to use tipo 00.

Handmade orecchiette

For two servings I use 2 cups of flour and ½ cup of water.  Once then dough is formed, you will want to take a piece and roll it into a worm and prepare it for shaping the orecchiette.

Here’s a very short and dramatic video on how to make the orecchiette. I…may or may not have gone overboard with the effects in iMovie. Oh well.




Orecchiette with Black Truffle Tapenade

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  • Renee Garrison
    June 24, 2012 - 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Please may we see a photo of first-pick-of-the-season figs?

    • June 24, 2012 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely! I have it on another card that I don’t have on me currently (so I’m kicking myself), but as soon as I get my hands on it I’ll update with the pictures. :)

  • June 25, 2012 - 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I have heard of Couch Surfing and have always wondered how it worked! Guess now I know that if I ever try it, be prepared to be stood up!

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