Once a year in Autumn I give myself the luxury to go to Italy in Piedmont to eat white truffle. I usually go for lunch to my favorite restaurant in the countryside (I’ve had already talked about it here) so after that I still have the whole afternoon to go for a walk in Alba or to enjoy a drive in the vineyards in the Langhe region. The sublime flavor combined with a day trip in the misty and enchanted countryside is my idea of heaven.
HOW, WHEN AND WHERE THE WHITE TRUFFLE GROWS
The truffle is a mushroom that grows underground in a spontaneous way next to the roots of some trees and depending on the type of tree, the truffle will have a particular smell and color. A truffle grown close to an oak, for example, has a more intense smell, while a truffle grown close to a linden is more clear and aromatic. The rain, the earth and the wood scent create a unique flavor, that will please the palate with its powerful and incomparable taste. Unfortunately, the white truffle is a very rare product, not only because it grows almost exclusively in the area surrounding Alba between September and December, but also because it depends on seasonal factors that can influence the way it grows and therefore the quantity .
HOW MUCH IT COSTs
Due to the fact it’s a very rare product, the white truffle costs a lot. The peak is usually around mid-season, when the truffle is at its top. In November, in fact, the truffle can cost €500 per 100 grams and, considering the fact we have to grate at least 10 grams to have a ‘reasonable’ portion, it will be easy to spend €50 per dish. As a complete lunch or dinner at the restaurant based on white truffle can cost an insane amount of money, another option could be buying a small white truffle at Alba fair and then cook it at home. Just remember to keep the truffle wrapped in kitchen paper for no more than a few days inside a jar.
There’s a lot of classic recipes from Piedmont with white truffle, but these are the most amazing ones in my opinion:
- Tajarin with white truffle: tajarin are a thinner version of fresh tagliatelle boiled in hot water and served with melted butter with white truffle flakes. Less is more.
- Raw veal meat with white truffle: the meat has been finely chopped and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Final touch: grated white truffle on it.
- Eggs en Cocotte with white truffle: warm soufflé whose made of liquid yolk and crème fraîche with truffle on top of it. My favorite recipe of all time is the one from the famous Italian restaurant Ciau del Tornavento.
Yes it is true, is a lot of money, but once a year and for such a unique product, I think we can live with that!