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Friday, October 11, 2019

Buried Treasure---Truffles


                     Truffles grow underground & specially trained dogs are required to find them

October is the beginning of the season for the world’s most expensive culinary treasure, the white truffle.  Only grown in a small area near the Italian Alps called Piedmont, the white truffle (tartufo bianco) is the most fragrant and most intensely flavored of all of the many varieties of truffles.  For this reason it is often called the “King of truffles.”  Its step-sister, the not-as-fragrant-black truffle, is grown in several parts of the world, but it is the highly prized white truffle which gourmands around the world not only covet, but pay mega Euros to feast on this buried edible masterpiece.

                             The tartufo bianco is the most aromatic & flavorful of all truffles

All truffles are a type of an exotic fungus that grows underneath the ground near the roots of certain trees.  In Piedmont, Italy the white truffle variety grows commonly near the roots of hazelnut, oak, pine or beech trees.  Truffles, a kind of distant cousin of wild mushrooms, are found by special dogs who have been trained to smell these highly fragrant edibles which are concealed several inches under the forest’s floor.

Piedmont in October is one big love-fest with the white truffle.  The charming medieval town of Alba is home to the Truffle Festival, a decadent food gala celebrating the area’s famous white culinary diamonds.  Weekends are grid-lock with aficionados from around the world descending on Alba for a smell and taste of the intoxicating white truffle.   There is pageantry with parades, music, and dance---all to honor the illustrious tartufo bianco.  

                                     Alba's Truffle Festival is a do not miss event for foodies

 If you can’t make it to Piedmont for the Truffle Festival, the next best thing may be dining at a Michelin star restaurant somewhere in the world during the months of October or November.    Be prepared, however, to spend almost $100 more per dish for the addition of the white truffle.  This means a $50 pasta will become $150 with the tartufo bianco.



Buon appetito!

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