From late October to just before Christmas, the white truffle is king in Alba. It commands the attention, and money, of locals and visitors who hunger to buy or taste it. In the shops, it is displayed under glass and sold by the gram at about € 400-500 per hundred grams.
To be honest, the truffles these days don't necessarily come from the local woods around the Ferrero Chocolate Factory, but more likely the unspoilt zones of the Monferrato in the south-eastern part of Piedmont. Yet Alba remains, as it always has, the key market for the commercialisation of the product in north Italy.
The tuba magnatum pico is located by a dedicated network of truffle hunters or 'trifulau' who search for it with their trusted dogs. Sliced fresh and without being cooked, it can enhance omelettes, fresh pasta or risotto. Butter sauce and the richer Piedmontese equivalent to the Swiss fonduta benefit from the truffle too, not to mention the wonders of truffle oil, truffle butter, or even rice.
With thanks to Tasting Tours, Asti.