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November White truffle hunt


mdbasile
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Ed - we are going to be at La Villa in  MOMBARUZZO - arriving on Sunday and leaving Tues morning mid november - what would you recomend - I know alot of places are closed sun/mon. Obviously Tartufo is paramount...

Also not so sure about a hunt - the owners @ La Villa were very kind and said they would help us source some good product - which is fine with me.

Thanks,

Mark

Hi Mark,

Da Maria in my village Zanco will be open both nights. If anyone will have fresh truffles... they will. The dog kennels are kept right in front of the restaurant and you will be hard pressed to find better food for the money! Last year Georgio showed me a local truffle the size of a baseball. Do you know how rare that is???? A restaurant owner drove all the way from Rome to buy it. Seems funny to me that people go to Alba for truffles!

My place is just down the street, stop by for a grappa.

How far a drive is it to Zanco? Is your restaurant open also?

Thanks,

Mark

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Mark - we stayed at La Villa for a week at the end of August (sadly pre-truffles, although apparently someone in the village had found the first truffles of the season the day we left).  Chris and Nicola are excellent hosts and I have no doubt that they will be able to source good product if you want to eat at La Villa and will also be able to direct you to the pick of the truffle menus at local restaurants.

I would recommend eating at La Villa at least once - the food is simple but relyies on the quality of the local ingredients so the results are good and the communal dining approach works surprising well. Nicola also has a good and well priced selection of local wines - it is very easy to end up drinking much more than you planned, particularly as driving is not an issue.  Given that dining in was so enjoyable we didn't eat out as much as I had expected but icaffi in Acqui was the pick of the restaurants within easy driving distance (15/20 mins). 

Enjoy.

Thanks Tim -- really great to hear such a nice report!!

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How far a drive is it to Zanco? Is your restaurant open also?

Mark, I just have a vacation house here in Zanco.

Must be 40 minutes to Mombaruzzo from here. What are you doing way down there? :raz:

Oops sorry Ed.... just assumed....

Closer to Alba... must be the reason -- we are driving in from Nice(where I have a place) - with a couple of buddies - truffles and wine trip!!

also the hotel we are staying at came highly recomended....

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Mark, do consider the small place in Calosso called Crota (it's on your list, I think). I'm not certain what your dining style is, but Crota is a low-key place with high-key food. It's definitely simple, but it definitely has some liveliness. A nice lunch out might work while you're visiting, say, Canelli. Calosso is just north toward Castigliole d'Asti. In fact, we're stopping for lunch after we do our morning truffle excursion near Castigliole -- tha place Sampaguita mentions above.

Also, there is Il Bardon in Calamandrana that comes highly recommeded both here and from another friend who runs cycle tours through the area. I think it, too, is near where you'll be. (It's slightly east, NE of Canelli.)

Then there's always I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro.

I'm sure I'm not surprising you with these picks, but I thought I'd throw them out there. Enjoy.

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Oops sorry Ed.... just assumed....

Closer to Alba... must be the reason -- we are driving in from Nice(where I have a place) - with a couple of buddies - truffles and wine trip!!

also the hotel we are staying at came highly recomended....

If you have the time and want to take a very beautiful drive:

Take the E74 (the Asti/Alba road) north until it ends and head for Portecamaro, then Scurzolengo, Castagnole Monferrato, Montemagno, Grana, Calliano, Moncalvo, Alfiano Natta, Villadeati, Murisengo, Zanco, Tonco, Castel Alfero. If you have a little extra time head north out of Murisengo to Gabiano. The drive will take you about an hour and a half to 2 hours but you will see some of the most beautiful landscapes in Italy. The countryside is very picturesque and particularly so because of the diverse crops. In season you will see vineyards, sunflower fields, lavender fields, fruit orchards, olive groves, hazelnut orchards along side of the conventional crops like corn and wheat, but what makes this area especially beautiful are the ancient hill-top villages usually containing a castle or beautiful church. The land is primarily used for agriculture so there is relatively little industry.

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea:

gallery_25747_2937_67135.jpg

Zanco

gallery_25747_2937_117679.jpg

Villadeati

edit: I forgot to mention that on a clear day there is a 180° view of the alps as a backdrop to all of this.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Thank you for the offer SC. I have spent time in many parts of Piedmont and I agree that the Langhe is very built up. However the back roads in the vineyards still have a wonderful feel to them. The wine atmosphere is lovely as even the lowliest enoteca will have a very knowledgeable staff and interesting things to drink. We have friends we visit in Treiso so we end up that way. We really like the Montechiaro di asti area. We really love the Val Cassoto area but not sure if that is Val d'aosta or?

I will be around mid November this year and of course will be looking for Truffles so I will drop you a line close to when I will be around.

David

Edited by dfunghi (log)

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Anyone familiar with San Miniato in Tuscany? I have been to Alba last November and heard that it is better to visit San Miniato as some truffles in Alba are actually from San Miniato. You would get cheaper and fresher truffle there. They also have a Truffle fair last three weeks of November. I will be there end of November. Anyone know how's their truffle festival compares with Alba? Any restaurants suggestion for special white truffle menu? Thanks

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I have ... heard that it is better to visit San Miniato as some truffles in Alba are actually from San Miniato.  You would get cheaper and fresher truffle there.

Hi kkwc. I'm certainly no expert, but here's my answer from my extensive reading.

Yes, some Alba truffles are not from Alba; perhaps some are from San Miniato. But the context of that, from what I understand, is that people bring cheaper truffles to Alba and try to pawn them off as Alba truffles. That is, they try to make huge profits on their out-of-Piedmont truffles by claiming that they are actually from Piedmont. So, yes, you can get "cheaper" truffles in many places; but those cheaper truffles won't be the same.

The short of it is that if you want the best truffles, pay the price in Piedmont. If you just want "truffles," then you can get them many, many places. But be assured that they are not the exquisite truffles for which Piedmont is famous. (And not just Alba, by the way. In fact, others here will argue -- convincingly -- that perhaps better and definitely less expensive truffles can be found in other areas of Piedmont.)

Ciao

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Anyone familiar with San Miniato in Tuscany?  I have been to Alba last November and heard that it is better to visit San Miniato as some truffles in Alba are actually from San Miniato.  You would get cheaper and fresher truffle there.  They also have a Truffle fair last three weeks of November.  I will be there end of November.  Anyone know how's their truffle festival compares with Alba?  Any restaurants suggestion for special white truffle menu?  Thanks

Hi kkwchan,

The truffles in the "zone" are the best in Italy The zone runs from south of Alba up to Just north of Moncalvo. The prices for these truffles are higher and rightfully so. If you want these truffles at a discount come to the Monferrato especially between Moncalvo, Montechiaro and Murisengo. All of the quality and very few tourists so you don't have to pay Alba prices. Also timing is everything... the first truffles sell dear but taper off until about two weeks before Christmas when they shoot back up again. Buy in late November and January for the best prices.

Read up-thread for more info on fair dates.

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Swiss_chef and pedalaforte, thank you for the suggestions. I guess I will change my plan and go back to Alba and Monferrato region. I already emailed http://www.buongustotours.com/ to arrange a tour for 4 of us. Swiss_chef, I did mention it was referred by you, I hope that's okay. Thanks again

By the way, anyone who is interested on joining the Sensorial Truffle Analysis on Sat. Nov10, please let me know as they need a minimum of 8 people, I only have 4. Or if anyone who has experienced it and think it is a waste of money, do let me know as well.

Edited by kkwchan (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...
Someone told me don't go to Alba after the festival as all the good quality truffles are gone, only go during the Alba truffle festival.  Agree or Disagree?

This is not true, I would say almost the reverse, go to Alba in November AFTER the truffle fair is over, all the tourists have left, the Umbrian and Croatian truffles have gone home and in fact everyone in Piedmont knows that November is better for (white) truffles then October or at least nowadays, and especially this year when the weather has been so dry (still) and white truffles are still scarse. Of course I am being somewhat facetious about the truffle fair, its still a great spectacle and the smell of truffles pervades the town every weekend.

You know that there are local truffle festivals somewhere in Piedmont evry weekend from October to December, I I posted a list sometime back Piemonte Truffle Festivals.

Although the truffle fairs and festivals are great to visit, I would still reccomend anyone who is not an expert and doesn't spaek Italian to have their truffles at a good restaurant, where they will have their own trifulau to supply them and becaus ethey are catering for Piedmontese customers will obviuously be serving the best they can find. Most of the small trattorie and osterie let you shave your truffle selection as much as you want and charge you by the gram, at a price not too much higher then the market price.

By the way thats a white truffle in my hand

Edited by Sampaguita (log)

Too many restaurants in Piedmont, too little time in life

Villa Sampaguita

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Someone told me don't go to Alba after the festival as all the good quality truffles are gone, only go during the Alba truffle festival.  Agree or Disagree?

This is not true, I would say almost the reverse, go to Alba in November AFTER the truffle fair is over, all the tourists have left, the Umbrian and Croatian truffles have gone home and in fact everyone in Piedmont knows that November is better for (white) truffles then October or at least nowadays, and especially this year when the weather has been so dry (still) and white truffles are still scarse. Of course I am being somewhat facetious about the truffle fair, its still a great spectacle and the smell of truffles pervades the town every weekend.

You know that there are local truffle festivals somewhere in Piedmont evry weekend from October to December, I I posted a list sometime back Piemonte Truffle Festivals.

Although the truffle fairs and festivals are great to visit, I would still reccomend anyone who is not an expert and doesn't spaek Italian to have their truffles at a good restaurant, where they will have their own trifulau to supply them and becaus ethey are catering for Piedmontese customers will obviuously be serving the best they can find. Most of the small trattorie and osterie let you shave your truffle selection as much as you want and charge you by the gram, at a price not too much higher then the market price.

By the way thats a white truffle in my hand

Very good advice.

Just heard that the market price at the moment is 3000 euros a kilo.

When you are here you will hear a prices quoted per "etto" which is 100 grams so 3000 a kilo would be "300 a l'etto".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've found the recommendations on this forum to be very helpful and am wondering if anyone has any tips on truffle-hunting etiquette. Perhaps a silly question, but I'd like to minimize my chances of acting like a 'clueless American' and unfortunately I don't speak much Italian so would appreciate knowing what to expect.

My boyfriend and I have booked a truffle-hunt through the concierge at our hotel in La Morra, and I am basically wondering if there is anything in particular we should be aware of: i.e. is it appreciated / considered rude to tip our guide, are we encouraged / discouraged from befriending the truffle dogs while they are working, etc.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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I've found the recommendations on this forum to be very helpful and am wondering if anyone has any tips on truffle-hunting etiquette. Perhaps a silly question, but I'd like to minimize my chances of acting like a 'clueless American' and unfortunately I don't speak much Italian so would appreciate knowing what to expect.

My boyfriend and I have booked a truffle-hunt through the concierge at our hotel in La Morra, and I am basically wondering if there is anything in particular we should be aware of: i.e. is it appreciated / considered rude to tip our guide, are we encouraged / discouraged from befriending the truffle dogs while they are working, etc.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

You are worrying too much. Have fun, pet the dogs, ask stupid questions. No one will mind, I promise. Try to tip a few bucks, but back off if they react strongly against it.

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Well we did have several days of rain last week, the ground has got a good soak and it is getting colder (doh!) as its November, still nice and sunny by day. Talking to our trifalau last night, he says that it definitely is getting better for finding white truffles, last month there really was a shortage of local truffles in what SC calls the zone.

As of now the price of the white truffles will depend on the size of the truffle (the bigger the truffle the higher cost per gram as big ones are rarer then small ones) and where you buy from. For an average white truffle say 10-20 grams, from the truffle hunter direct 3-4 euro a gram, at a local truffle market 4-5 euro a gram, at the restaurant 5-6 euro a gram. In Alba also you will pay around 5-6 euro a gram too at the truffle fair which runs for one more weekend.

Too many restaurants in Piedmont, too little time in life

Villa Sampaguita

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MD not to worry about weather we get more rain or not, its November and the ground is damp, foggy days and getting colder, good season for white truffles. But I hope we gets lots of rain this winter for my vineyard and orchard which really got stressed this year. Enjoy your stay in Mombaruzzo, and you must go to I Caffi restaurant in Acqui Terme while you are here. Also on the 17 or 18th, it will be a good day to come up to Asti for the November Fiere Regionale Tartufo in Asti combined with the Cucina e Cantina festival. Lots of foods and wines as well as truffles.

Too many restaurants in Piedmont, too little time in life

Villa Sampaguita

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