Adventures In Truffle Land

Adventures In Truffle Land

Truffle Hunter With His Dogs


This year our wine trip happened to fall right in the middle of the International Alba White Truffle Festival. I arrived right in the middle of the festival, and the town was fully booked and eagerly awaiting the daily truffle finds. If getting to Alba was hard (NYC to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Turin, Turin to Alba) finding a reservation for dinner in Alba during the festival was nearly impossible!


While white truffles have always been elusive, this year has been an historically tough one for truffle hunters, and they actually postponed the festival to wait for more rain to improve the harvest. 

Truffle Finds For the Day

Historically, truffles thrived in the area around Alba (a small village in the Piedmontese hills) and in the deep forests of the Langhe region. Every year, between September and January, white truffles are harvested in the clay and marl soil underneath hazelnut, oak, and linden trees. No, they do not use pigs anymore to find truffles, and in northern Italy they don't use Lagato Romano’s due to their hair being too thick for the dense forest. 
As northern Italian wines became more popular, deforestation to plant vineyards drastically reduced the size of the truffle grounds. Now, hills that used to be filled with forests have been reduced to only the area’s where grapes won’t grow (typically the very top or bottom of the hill). In addition, rising temperatures from global warming and poor rain fall have further condensed the season, and reduced the wild bounty. 
Sorting Black Truffles
Tartuflanghe, who invited me to visit, was one of the first companies in Italy to start exporting the famed Alba White Truffle in 1975. The company was started by the current owner, Paolo Montanaro’s Father in 1975 out of their Michelin starred restaurant Chez Beppe when chef’s around Europe started calling about having truffles shipped. With his network of local truffle hunters, and a focus on only selling the best, they quickly became the most respected name in the business.
Today they are on the forefront of everything to do with truffles. Using techniques developed together with famed chef Ferran Adria, they’ve figured out ways of preserving the Alba White Truffle in a variety of different products. The images I took highlight how they prepare fresh pastas, sauces, creams, chocolates, powders, as well as the two-decade long journey towards cultivating world class white truffles in the wild.


Fresh Pasta With Dried Truffles

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