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Imagine a valley of the Langhe, in Piedmont, where the woods are already dressed with the beautiful colors of autumn, and alongside a friendly wagging hound… There, truffle finds its origins.
If you love him or hate him, whether if it’s black or white, the truffle is still one of the products of excellence in our country.
And because I love it madly, I convinced some friends to plan a weekend at 85th International Alba Truffle Fair.
Where to start? First, I had never been to Alba, and I discovered a beautiful village, full of lovely shops and characteristic views, rich in history, culture and… gastronomy, of course. In short, an ideal destination for a day trip.
Alba is all about truffles, especially in these days: every restaurant proposes a tasting menu, every delicatessen exposes their truffle based products right in the street, or even real truffles, strictly protected in glass cases, with labels indicating weight and price. And on every weekends there are some event related to the fair (the complete schedule, week to week, on www.fieradeltartufo.org).
Not to mention the Fair itself, located in a pavilion in the central Courtyard of Maddalena! Just enter a gust of fragrance greets you, as the stands proposing meats, wines, grappas, flavored olive oil, condiments and sauces, cheeses, honey, fresh pasta and many, many samples to taste!
At the center of the pavilion finds its place the judges stage, where you can check and record the purchase of this gastronomic gem (but be careful, just over 100 grams of size!), and just below are the space of real trifolau, seekers of truffles, displaying and selling their fresh treasures, laughing and joking with each other as old friends.
After all, guests will find a small dining area, where you can order some of the dishes, such as fried eggs, tagliolini, fondue… with a generous “sprinkling” of white truffle.
If you’re so convinced to attend this event, or you simply are “hunting” of truffles, here are some tips to take advantage of on-site:
– The white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) is certainly the most prized and its price varies according to season and availability. Please check the “Little Stock Market of Truffle” to be updated, but be aware that it oscillates between 350 and 500 Euros for 100 gr.
– The collection period for the white truffle is from 1 October to 31 January.
– A “sprinkling” of white truffles in one of the many restaurants in the area (including the Fair one) costs between 30 and 60 Euros. Before, you better ask the waiter and pretend it to be done in front of you.
– In restaurant tasting menus the use of the black truffle, instead of the white one, is normally expressly indicated, for many dishes. The taste is still delicious, the price is lower. The “sprinkling” of extra white, as already said, is separately.
– If you want to take home a white truffle, please read the beautiful and useful site tuber.it, and keep in mind that a piece of 15 grams is barely enough for four fried eggs or two portions of tagliolini. And do not forget to buy the special grater or you will reduce everything to a pulp. If you want to have a nice risotto, instead, opt for a black truffle.
– It is true that we have become accustomed to the fact that the scam could be just around the corner, but be aware that the price of truffles is poorly treatable, then observed the work of trifolau and his inseparable dog. And you pay the right.
– The truffles will keep its freshness just for a few days, regardless of whether white or black, then buy it only if you actually have the chance to enjoy it soon. You can choose between many preparations truffles, or try to get them on you own! Easily, the sum of everything you want to buy will allow the purchase of a small truffle that can be crumbled and used to flavor butter, oil, honey… homemade, with much more satisfaction!
– If you purchased at the Fair, or in a specialist shops, do not be afraid to follow the advice of the trifolau or seller about the cleaning and the storage of your small, round perfumed mushroom. They are the first that would see you satisfied.
– For cleaning, get a new toothbrush, before pharmacies close off…
– Do not stop at the first sniff, but proceed until you find a truffle that, among many, blow your mind.
– Combine truffle with neutral flavors, to enjoy it at its best: almost white risotto, tagliolini, fried or boiled eggs.
– Every bit is fragrant and valuable, so be careful while cleaning and scratching. Gather all “elusive” scales and use them to flavor, as mentioned above.
– Unlike as I did, I suggest you to bring a perfectly clean pot, with the ermetic cap, and some kitchen paper, especially if you plan to stay out of the whole weekend: once bought truffles, wrap it in paper and put it in the pot, or even your bag… will smell!
– Once home, you can follow the advice of Artusi: “If you have some perfumed truffles close them in a box with one or two fresh eggs. Leave it for a couple of days. After, the truffles are always excellent and the eggs have taken their scent. Eat soft-boiled, the shell. ”
My recommendations for Alba:
– Book a hotel during the Fair can be a mission impossible. Try instead on Airbnb!
– For Saturday evening, we chose the Hosteria Museum Toch, in via Cavour n. 10, in the heart of Alba, as the advice of some friends. The experience was really great and the price honest. A special mention goes to the flan with truffle and raschera fondue: moving!
– Fortunately for us, we came over the weekend when there was the Festival of Meat and Langa Bread in Piazza Risorgimento, which has sustained us in the long Sunday with raw sausage, butter and sage ravioli, minced beef and bread with hazelnut cream!
– This year, I have chosen as my trifolau Mr. Vittorio Palma, that has his desk in the Fair, just below the podium of the judges, and he dispensed me numerous tips. In June, I will go with him and his dog on the trace of summer truffles!
And what are you waiting for? For this year the Alba White Truffle Fair is waiting you until November 15!
Enjoy your meal!