Every year around the end of September, gastronomes and epicures start to pick up on a scent that emanates from Italy and wafts its way to every major food city around the world—the intoxicating smell of white truffles. It’s the beginning of white truffle season, and nowhere on earth is the trifola d’Alba Madonna better than those found in the woodlands of Piedmont’s Alba region. Chefs seek them out for the same reason that diners do: nothing approaches their flavor. A mere shaving can fill an entire restaurant with a head-turning symphony of earthy
aromatics that are both primal and refined.
If you think you’ve experienced the taste of white truffles because you’ve had so-called truffle oil drizzled on your French fries, then you’re kidding yourself. Most truffle oils are a synthetic laboratory concoction with no truffle in them at all. And it shows in the price. Did you really think a derivative of the world’s most prized food could be found in your local supermarket for $15?
The absense of any practical ways to obtain the tasty tubers compounds their rarity. You could go on an immersive excursion to truffle country. TartufLanghe offers guided tours in Italy where you accompany a truffle hunter and his dog while they unearth these nuggets in the woods of Piedmont’s Roero Hills, followed by a truffle lunch.
Not up for the hunt? TartufLanghe also sells its white truffles online when in season, as do Urbani and Sabatino. Depending on size, they can cost anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars.
To prepare them, use a proper truffle slicer to make paper-thin wafers. This isn’t something you can cut with a knife. Avoid putting them over anything with strong flavors. Pasta and risotto don’t require much more than butter and a bit of Parmigiano cheese to provide the perfect, delicate canvas for your white truffle shavings. Softly scrambled eggs are a nice alternative too, but put them on the wrong dish and you might as well just use a bottle of truffle oil.