In the last weekend of Alba International White Truffle Fair (Fiera Internazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba) weekly market in the center of Alba was immersed in sun. I filled my eyes with vivid colors of flowers, seasonal fruits and vegetables, enormous boletus (poricini) and definitely smaller white truffles.
This time the autumn didn’t spoil wine producers, but truffle hunters had a lot of work, which was reflected in gray diamond price. A year ago you needed to spend 4-4,5 € per 1 g and the current price is around 2,5-3,5 €/ 1 g, not to mention about special promotions during the last day of the festival – “only” 2 €/1 g. Well, still it’s not a cheap product, but truffles like jewels must cost dearly.
In Alba there are many opportunities to buy precious fungus. During the whole year seasonal truffles are easily available in local shops: despite the white one tuber magnatum pico (October-January), you can find also the back one like tuber aestivum (summer time) or tuber melanosporum (winter months, usually at the beginning of the year).
Additionally, in weekends of Alba International White Truffle Fair a special Truffle Market (Mercato Mondiale del Tartufo Bianco ) was opened. Located in cortile della Maddalena in the downtown under a huge tent, it hosted numerous truffle hunters stands where you could smell, touch and compare different pieces of precious fungus and visit small local producers of cheeses, hams, handmade ravioli, typical sweets from Piedmont and of course great wines of Langhe and Roero. While I was wandering about the market I noticed a huge hams hung on stands. It was Prosciutto Crudo di Cuneo DOP - gorgeous, majestic, wearing a special scarf and showing ID - a little book with its characteristics that imitated Italian carta d’identita’. A really brilliant idea!
Between October 12th and November 17th a lot of tourists visited this little town laying siege to the truffle market, shops and restaurants. Getting a free table, both in Alba and in the surrounding area, on Saturday and on Sunday became mission impossible. In the menu you could find, despite typical dishes, also creamy ice-cream served with finely grate white truffle. Does it seem a creazy idea? Not at all! I’m sure that in this gray diamond madness there were clients who wanted to taste a luxurious dessert!
Who wanted to try typical dishes of Langhe and Roero without ruining wallet could easily take part in numerous dinners and tastings organized in piazza Risorgimento to assaporate different cheeses, sausages, prosciutti, sweets made with hazelnuts from the Langhe.
Additionally, in 83rd edition of the festival the town paid tribute to Giacomo Morra by organizing a special exhibition of old photos under the arcades of the Savona square. Giacomo Morra, born in 1889, was a local entrepreneur – restaurateur, the owner of the hotel and in the same time he run a truffle business. He is often called "the king of the truffle" as it was him to send around the world the Best Truffle of the Year to personalities of culture, politics and show business, promoting in this way not only a precious fungus, but also his town. With time a gray diamond become a symbol of prestige and glamour and today nobody is surprised that in XIVth edition of International White Truffle Auction some people were willing to pay an important numbers for the biggest pieces. The record? 90 000 € for twins weighing 950 grams. In total 274 200 € were gained and given for charity purposes.
My review of Alba International Truffle Fair 2012 is available here
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I’m Polish blogger and freelance journalist tasting “la dolce vita” by traveling around Piedmont. As Italia is my passion since the childhood I’m happy having the chance to discover the kingdom of great cuisine and probably the best wines in the world, but also charming little towns and interesting history. My blog Bel Piemonte (available also in Polish and in Italian) was born to show the beauty of this region and to encourage others to discover this part of the Apennine Peninsula.Website: www.belpiemonte.com/en/