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Monday, October 17, 2011

Truffle---the World's Most Expensive Edible

October is the height of the white truffle season in Italy.  While both Italy and France have black truffles, the white truffle (tartufo bianco) is only present in Italy---specifically Northwest Italy in the Piemonte district.  Known as the “King of Truffles,” white truffles command approximately $3,000 per pound. One of the most expensive gastronomic items on earth, these culinary treasures are worshipped by chefs around the world. 

A truffle is an exotic fungus---a distant cousin of the wild mushroom. Unlike mushrooms, truffles develop entirely underground.  Root systems of trees such as oak, pine and beech form the perfect milieu for truffles.  When mature, truffles emit a mesmerizing aroma.  The white truffle, however, is the most prized variety because of its over-the-top musky fragrance.  Highly perfumed, it’s no wonder why this delicious white version of the edible was considered the “food of the Gods” by the ancient peoples.

Alba is Italy's white truffle capital and every weekend in October crowds of thousands converge on the town to attend their world-famous Truffle Market where tartufi bianco can be purchased in sizes varying from small walnuts to tennis balls.   There’s also tartufi pasta (fresh & dried), tartufi butter, tartufi cheese, tartufi oil & tartufi paste for purchase. A cornucopia of local food specialties such as wine-flavored salami, divine chestnut desserts, and an expansive variety of wild mushrooms from the nearby forests are available.  The superstar wine from the region, Barolo and Barbaresco, complete the food and wine lover’s nirvana.

To learn more about Truffles, Barolo and Barbaresco, join the 2012 tour to Piemonte where you’ll not only attend the enchanting Truffle Market but accompany a truffle hunter into the forests to hunt for the delicacy.

Buon Appetito!

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