Italy must be one of my most favourite places on earth. I think I must have some Italian heritage in my somehow. Everything about the place is just pure romance to me. Unfortunately I’ve spent most of my time travelling the country before the internet went mainstream and the word “blogging” had even been uttered for the first time. And now with life less free time and my fair share of grown up “baggage”, I have to resort travelling the nation vicariously – through the wonderful culinary delights inspired by those with firm Italian roots.
Today I get to try the handmade olive oil truffles from Nudo Italia. For my £6.99 I get twelve treats made by Michele and Ivan equally divided in to three flavours: mandarin, lemon and chilli oil. Each of which is wrapped in bright orange, yellow and red foil, under which look identical having been made with the same floral dome.
If you wanted strong, powerful flavours as much of Italian cooking has, you’ll be left disappointed. The mandarin is so subtle as to be almost non-existent. The chocolate shell is similarly mute and just as soft. The idea here is to eat these slowly. If you manage to restrain yourself from the natural human instinct of devouring chocolates quickly then you’re met with a beautiful watercolour of flavours. Despite them containing olive oil, there’s not robust oil painting vibrancy here. They’re distinctly mild and unassuming – very un-Italian like!
The lemon is exactly the same in temperament, in that you have to explore your senses to find the flavour – the subtlety of which is worth finding. Many mass-market lemon bon bons are incredibly intense in that your taste buds become immune to the flavour. With these you are forced to undergo the flavour version of an Ishihara colour test. When you succeed in locating the flavour you’ll notice there’s nothing faux about it – you get the lemon bitterness of the pips alongside the sharp fruit characteristic too.
With the pepperoncino ganache the tempo is radically different. Like so many chilli flavoured chocolate you’re led into a false sense of security. The very mild chocolate shell primes you to expect another mild experience, but then the chilli flavour starts to build and seemingly doesn’t stop until you’ve consumed it all. I adore chilli flavours so it was great to have something with a bit more punch. There was nothing artificial about this one, but I would have preferred a bit more sweetness combined with the potency of the chilli.
Overall these are delightful, but very restrained. The olive oil flavour is only a bit part player when I’d much prefer it to be more of a leading lady as with the strange 81% Mast Brothers bar which also included Almonds and Sea Salt. Nonetheless, they’d be delightful to sit in a sunny garden after work with a good book and a supply of white wine.