There is perhaps no ingredient that better illustrates Italian luxury than white truffles from Alba. They have an explosive aromatic profile that fills the room and almost overpowers the senses in an almost sensual way. They are also very expensive – around $1,500 – $3,000 per pound depending on supply during the harvest.
The season for white truffles is from September to December. The truffles are harvested from the forests around Alba, in Piedmont, as well as other locations in Italy. Alba is in between Barolo and Barbaresco and is an excellent stopping point if you want to taste the wines of Piedmont.
The truffles are found by dogs whose powerful sense of smell allows them to locate the truffles. They are then dug up by humans. People used to use pigs but the pigs often ate the truffles.
Truffles, in my opinion, should be served with simple food so that the other ingredients do not interfere with the truffles.
At Bello, we serve truffles several ways. The first is simply over tajarin. Tajarin is a traditional PIedmontese pasta that uses approximately 20 egg yolks per pound of pasta. It is very eggy and provides a rich but simple backdrop for the truffles.
The second dish is a poached egg with hazelnuts and parmesan foam. This is a play on the fondue that is often used as a based for the dish. The truffles grow at the foot of hazelnut trees so I added those as an homage to the “parents” of the truffles.
Truffles are expensive ($85 – $110 per dish) but they are a once in a lifetime luxury dish that is only around for a brief moment each year. They are also getting more expensive each year as more people find out about them. If you haven’t had them, it’s a great dish to try at least once.