One of things we love most about living here in The Langhe region of Piedmont is the annual Truffle fair which is about to take place in Alba during the month of October.
The streets and piazzas of Alba host literally hundreds of stands displaying all sorts of products but particularly truffle. The local restaurants offer truffle based menus and tourists and gourmets from all over the world come to Alba to participate in this carnival which lasts a month.
The town’s local weekly newspaper (Gazzetta D’Alba) produces a free newspaper in English for the festival which allows tourists to see exactly what is going on in addition to interesting articles about the history of Alba and its association with the truffle. These tend to go quite quickly as you would expect.
Between the months of September and December the hills of the Langhe are searched by experienced locals at night time for truffle and of course due to their value most locations are kept secret. These hunters are known as Trifolao
One of the most important aspects involved in truffle hunting is the Truffle Hound (Tabui). These dogs have a remarkable nose and memory which enables them to return to hunting spots year after year. I think its fair to say that without these dogs there would be no truffle festival at all.
The most famous truffle is the “white truffle” which is found here in Langa and both traders and trifolao have worked hard together to maintain high quality levels and consequently there is now a form of truffle certification or charter. Consumers are covered by the Commissione di Controllo ( A Commission formed to check truffles) who have an active presence on the market to ensure the charter is maintained. As you can see its a pretty serious business and understandably so when you see the prices that the product changes hands for.
As you can imagine there are all sorts of cuisine based seminars held during the festival but one that grabs my attention is “Albaromatica”. I can only describe this as an event which displays all the local spices and herbs used here in cooking. All visitors will have a chance to taste and enjoy the smells of these spices which make such a valuable contribution to Italian cooking.
As you can see it really is a special time here in Alba and definitely worth a visit or two if you’re in the area.