Guide to the White Truffle of Alba

White Truffle Shaved Over Spaetzle with Slow Poached Farm Egg and Parmesan Breadcrumb.JPG

The white truffle or "trifola d'Alba" is most famously found in the countrysides of Alba and Asti of Italy. However, it can also be found in Piedmont (region in northern Italy), Tuscany (Molise, Abruzzo, San Miniato), Croatia (Istria peninsula), and France (Drome area). The scientific name for these truffles is Tuber magnatum pico. These rare truffles are so highly prized and distinguished that they are also known as Diamonds of the Kitchen. Bling Bling.

The white truffle grows on oak, hazelnut, lime, poplar, beech, and willow trees. The size, quality, and aroma of the truffle depends on the weather, environment, species, tree, location along tree, soil type, and moisture. Usually, truffles are quite small but there are some cases where truffles can weigh up to a kilogram. Truffles are colored brown or cream with white streaks throughout. White truffles are only available between October and December.

Source:  Kevin Tao

Source: Kevin Tao

The most expensive price paid for a single white truffle was set in 2007 when Stanley Ho, Macau casino owner, paid 330,000 USD for a 1.5 kg piece of white truffle. Usually, white truffles are found much smaller than this. The price of the truffle is determined by its weight. However, people still pay up to 14,000 USD per kg. 

Fun Story of the Day: Time magazine shared one of Daniel Boulud's favorite stories involving "Puff Daddy, as he was known at the time, urging the chef to 'shave that bitch' onto his food; Boulud told me that he obliged...".

Today, white truffles are high in demand but scarce in supply, which allows it command such high market prices. They are much more rare than other types of truffles and they can only be found in the wild during a short harvesting season. Along with a growing global demand, white truffles are becoming even more scarce due to climate change and the presence fungicides in the soil. 

White Truffles. Source:  Tuscanycious

White Truffles. Source: Tuscanycious

White truffles are hard to find; they are able to grow beneath the soil along the roots of the trees. Traditionally, the truffle-hunting process involves either a Truffle Hog or a Truffle Dog. A female Truffle Hog instinctively sniffs out the elusive truffles. Unfortunately, the Truffle Hog might accidentally eat the truffle because a compound in the truffle resembles a pheromone produced by boars. On the other hand, a Truffle Dog has to be trained to find truffles. Both these animals have a keen sense of smell and are both very effective in truffle-hunting. 

A truffle's full flavor and aroma is best experienced within days of it being picked. The white truffle has a musky and earthy scent and flavor. Truffles go well with simple foods like eggs, pasta, rice, and simple meat dishes. The truffle should be thinly sliced over the dish using a special truffle knife. According to Mirepoix, the white truffle is "somewhat reminiscent of shallots with hints of garlic and pepper on the palate".