There are definitely some things you should know before going to Italy that will help you tremendously and make your trip a little smoother. From big ...
Alba has become known as the mecca food capital of Piemonte thanks to it’s white truffle, the most expensive food in the world.
True wine and food lovers don’t need to look for an excuse to visit Piedmont, the region located in northwest Italy that has been picked by the Lonely Planet as the world’s top region to visit in 2019.
However, coming here in October and November is a particular treat because of the rare wild fruit of a fungus, Tuber magnatum pico, alias the white truffle, which comes into season around this time. This means that this extraordinary mushroom will once again fill fine-dining restaurant spaces and markets with its unique fragrances and scents.
“But what is truffle? Truffle is an hypogean mushroom that grows and live underground, from a few centimetres to a meter, under the ground in cool and humid milieus.”
It is formed in high percentage by water and mineral salts absorbed by the soil through the roots of the tree, with which it enters into symbiosis: there’s a special relationship between some types of tree and the fungus, in which the first nourishes and protects the second, creating the perfect habitat for its growth. Only certain kinds of roots are able to create this relation, most of which are from poplar, linden, oak, hazel and willow.
Unlike black truffles which can be farmed, white truffles must be foraged in the wild, that is why they are highly prized. Alba’s quality white truffle reaches full ripeness around the middle of October, but its hunt in Piemonte goes from September 21st until January 31st and is strictly regulated.
The best way to celebrate white truffle season is at the International White Truffle Fair, one of the most important events for the city of Alba. This festival every year attracts thousands of food connoisseurs throughout the world, but is not just limited to the white truffle: there are art exhibitions, theater performances, concerts, markets, historical as well as folkloristic commemorations, activities for children and much more. The truffle market is the Fair’s main event; the place where everyone can view, touch, smell and buy truffles. There are events dedicated to the culinary traditions of the Langhe such as cooking show with premium Michelin–starred Chefs, tastings of specialties, presentation of theme-related books, debates, wine tasting courses and sensory analysis of truffles.
Finding truffles isn’t easy, indeed only the Trifulau (truffle hunter in piedmontese dialect) know how and where to look for them and they’re always guided by the acute nose of their faithful dogs. Only three kinds of dogs are able to find truffles: the mongrel, the Italian lagotto romagnolo and the Italian pointer, or bracco.
The only way to discover the hunters’ secrets is to accompany them on a unique excursion out in the woods. So what are you looking for? A very exciting and true adventure is waiting you, learning all the secrets, the life and progress of this rare gem and the beauty of nature, together with indigenous trees and flowers of this magical land.