I have a work colleague who is in love with truffles. Whenever it is the truffle season we would always go out for lunch and make sure we go to Italian restaurants because they particularly will have the special truffle menu.
One of the work perks I enjoy is the occasional lunch on the company and if that happens during the truffle season, we will of course make full use of it. One such lunch is as below.
I started appreciating truffles so much myself that I decided it was high time for a road trip to Alba, Italy to visit the Alba International White Truffle Fair several years ago. We went with another work colleague and her then boyfriend now husband.
Italian hunters use dogs and pigs to sniff these royal delicacies out of the grounds from the hills surrounding this region. One can even go on such a day trip to see how this is done.
The drive down from Zurich was beautiful to say the least – mountains and lakes all the way. It was incredible how obvious it was that we were in a different country as soon as we crossed the bordered and entered Italy due to the sudden terrible road conditions. We were however very lucky with the weather and could enjoy coffee outdoors in the sun although it was a November day.
It was very cheap to enter the Truffle Fair – 2 Euros. Inside there were possibly a hundred stalls selling truffles and various truffle products – oil, pasta, cream, butter, chocolates, ice cream, etc. We saw the white truffles in all their glory and the steep prices made me gasp. Then again that is not exactly news as the most expensive white truffle has been auctioned for more than a million dollars.
We bought some products from the fair to take home with us including some black truffle which unfortunately did not survive the trip back to Basel so there went our money down the drain but the truffle oil was about 10 percent the prices you would pay for anywhere else in the world and we savoured that and kept using it in risottos and mashed potatoes.
Truffle ice cream by the way was quite delicious.
Of course we had to have white truffle in Alba and we did so at a restaurant in this tiny city where this plate below of eggs with white truffle cost us about 16 Euros.
The city itself was of course ready for the influx of tourists and there was a buzz going on throughout the narrow streets. As with any city in Europe, a quick visit to a local church was evident to happen.
That night for dinner, I had a simple plate of taglierini with butter and black truffles. They truly let the ingredients shine and do all the work. One thing that was funny was that the waitress and the chef were a Japanese couple and I ended up ordering and translating from Japanese to English as she only spoke Japanese and Italian.
The Piedmont region is also knows for its wine. We spent the night in a farmhouse in the outskirts of the city where we had beautiful views of the Italian vineyards from our balconies.
It was a great weekend in Italy and one I would recommend.
On the way back to Switzerland we stopped in the outskirts of Torino to visit the famous palace Venaria Reale which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful palaces I have been to.