When travelers want to experience white truffles first hand, they travel to the Piedmont region of Italy, specifically to the Truffle Festival in Alba. The Piemonte is a remarkable place to visit in late fall. Its vineyards are changing colors, with patches of reds, purples and yellows draping the already splendid landscape like a quilt. Alba is alive with smells and people and music.
Our truffle trips always began in Alba, rarely to buy, but mainly to understand that year’s quality and market. It’s a magical place to go in late fall, a sort of gateway to the truffle fairs in the rest of the country. I tried a selfie standup (never before shown) outside Alba’s newly developed truffle pavilion in 2010. Note the Hitchcock cameo.
Inside the fair, you don’t find much magic.
Common wisdom has it that the best white truffles come from Alba, largely because its PR machine has been going longer than those in other regions. But a bonafide fresh white truffle, just out of the forests of Tuscany or Umbria, can be every bit the match of a similarly fresh white truffle from Piedmont. Here’s a travel piece we wrote for the SF Chronicle Sunday Magazine in October, 2000.
It is magical experiencing the “truffle trail”, as everywhere that one eats along the trail, truffles are the focus of the menu. We try to uphold the integrity and magic of these forests in our dining room. With these dinners we’re able to buy in quantity, at a better price, and pass the savings on to customers.
November 13 to 17, superior truffles at modest cost, served humbly.