White Alba Truffle
White Alba Truffle

Flavors of Piedmont

White truffles with Alain Dutournier
Carré des Feuillants, Paris  

Ancient peoples believed that the white truffle was the daughter of lightning. The Greeks and Romans were very fond of them and praised their aphrodisiac qualities. The composer and gourmand Rossini called them "the Mozart of the mushroom world." They grow in Piedmont, near the Langhe and Roero hills which also produce Italy's great wines: Dolcetto, Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo, Nebbiolo. Like these wines, white truffles are found in five varieties, determined by the trees around whose roots they grow. Thus, depending on whether they are found near weeping willow, oak, poplar, lime trees or vines, their color varies from a sometimes veined white to pink and dark gray.

This Italian truffle has a scent of wild garlic with mineraly overtones; it's essential not to cook it, but only to use it raw, grated onto crusty bread or a hot dish. Its flavor is fleeting.

While its black cousin pairs naturally with the great wines of Pomerol, the white truffle is suited to a good aged Riesling.

Italians like to eat white truffles plain, sliced paper thin on pasta with butter and cheese, or on eggs.

In northern Italy, white truffles are traditional at weddings. Since Italian weddings are a big affair, they need a lot of truffles. So the more weddings there are in the fall, the fewer white truffles are found on the market!

Much more expensive and rarer than the black truffle of Perigord, white truffles command two to three times as much on the market: prices fluctuate depending on the supply. 

The season covers October and November. It is generally extended until Christmas, when the black truffle takes over.


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