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Heartsurgeon

ALBA dining during truffle season (this October)

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Recommendations for a nice place to eat a classic meal highlighting truffles in season. Anywhere around Alba is fine, we have a car. It's the wife, me and possibly our son. I'll be there around Oct 14-16. I'm not looking for a three star Michelin. Would enjoy something memorable, but not budget busting.


Edited by Heartsurgeon (log)

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we have been numerous times to the October / November truffle fair in Alba

favoured restaurants

Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d'ALba

Osteria del Vignaiolo in La Morra

Tenuta Schiavenza in Serralunga

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Another shout for Della Posta, nearly everywhere will be serving at least a simple pasta with truffle for relatively little money.

If you find yourself in La Morra do try the pizza place on the outskirts of the village.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I would hope that the better reataurants are buying direct from the local truffle hunters though, as you mention, there are plenty from outside Alba. However, what concerns me more is the quality of the truffle, I'd rather an excellent white truffle from outside Alba than an average one from Alba.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Seems time to clear something up about "Alba" truffles. The town proper produces virtually none within its confines. It is downright urban, in fact. The town is famous for SELLING high-quality white truffles from the immediate area, not growing them within its confines. However, if you draw, say, a 30-kilometer (or larger) radius around the center of Alba, picking up all of the "d'Albas" like Serralunga, Monforte, Vezza, Diano, etc. (the list is almost endless, large and small), as well as the other nearby Langhe communes not bearing the Alba name, and all of the truffle-producing trees contained within that radius, and if you understand that the truffles sold in the Alba truffle market during tourist season, whether local or smuggled in from Croatia, constitute a tiny fraction of the truffles sold in northeastern Italy every year, you might be able to move beyond the "there are no Alba truffles" urban myth.

A few things are important to understand. A white truffle does not have the same soil requirements that grapes do. There is no such thing as "truffle terroir". They grow on tree roots. The important requirement is climate: enough rain, and a right balance between heat and cold at the right times of year. Thus, great truffles can come from a wide geographic area in Italy, and even from other areas in Eastern Europe and elsewhere where climatic conditions permit. The Monferrato area above Asti produces excellent truffles, and because of the centuries-old rivalry between Alba and Asti, you will often hear unsupportable claims both ways that one area has the better and more abundant truffles, or the other area gets all of its truffles from China and Eastern Europe and they are all terrible. More urban myth all the way around. Something that is true is that you are far more likely to encounter foreign or inferior-quality truffles and truffle products, not to mention ridiculous prices, in promotional events like "truffle fairs". You will usually find the best quality local truffles in the better ristoranti of northeast Italy. Locals, myself included, buy their truffles directly from the hunters or from trusted retail suppliers. My truffle man consistently harvests the best truffles that I have ever eaten (hint: try to find those from oak tree roots), at a fair price, from an area near Monforte d'Alba. In the end, the old saw about there being no great wines, just great bottles, is pretty much the story of the white truffle as well. A given tree can produce white truffles of wildly different size and quality.

The truffle conspiracy theories are better directed at Perigord black truffles. For many years, probably decades at this point, the world consumption of Perigord truffles has been a considerable multiple of the region's actual peak production capacity. Meanwhile, global warming has devastated Perigord's output, while world demand for quality black truffles and the price the truffles fetch have continued to soar. Today, there is a black truffle crisis, and buyers are scrambling to find or develop new sources of supply. Unlike white truffles, where attempts at cultivation have met with no real success, black truffles can be successfully cultivated. Somewhat ironically, black truffles are a growth industry in certain areas of the Piemonte north of Genoa, where the climate is perfect for them. Thus, not only is it still possible to find local white truffles in Alba, it will soon be possible to find Perigord-quality black truffles as well...


Edited by Bill Klapp (log)

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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