October 13, 2013

White Truffles in Alba

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:30 pm by newsurroundings

Il tartufo bianco- the white truffle- ounce for ounce, the most expensive food in the world and considered to be the ultimate delicacy.  The ones in the Piedmont region of Italy are said to be the best anywhere.  We had visited the area last winter and heard so much about the truffles that we had to return to see what all the fuss was about.

We went to Alba a few weeks ago, near the end of September, and were lucky that the truffle season had just begun days earlier.  The sell of truffles is tightly controlled and it is illegal for anyone to sell them before the official start of the season, so we could have missed out if we had gone a few days earlier.  They were not yet offered in the restaurants (at least not the ones we went to), but we did find them at a shop in Alba.  There they were, in the window, covered by a glass dome- ugly little odd-shaped, mud-caked fungi.  You wouldn’t think that these things that looks like a rocks could command such a high price and transform a simple dish into a gastronomic delight, but they do.  The price varies for each truffle, depending on the size and quality.  So, you just have to pick one out and have it weighted at whatever price the owner decides.  I chose one of the smallest ones and splurged on the little fella.  I did have an idea what they were selling for, so although it was high, I knew it was within the selling range.

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So, why are they so darn expensive?  I guess it’s because they are rare, growing in the forests wherever they please and have to be sniffed out by specially trained dogs.

We took our prized fungus home, wrapped in paper and placed in a little jar, and I couldn’t wait to try it.   As soon as I took it out of the jar, the smell filled the room.

A one-time splurge!

A one-time splurge!

I managed to make it last for 3 meals.  We had it on eggs and pasta, shaved raw, very thinly.  It was really delicious roasted with potatoes and parmesan cheese.

Delizioso!

Delizioso!

Our single prized truffle didn’t last long, but the memory of this “taste of Italy” experience will not fade anytime soon.