Truffles in Italy (not the choc. kind)

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Aug 10th, 2006, 09:29 PM
  #21
 
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"Anyway, the truffle trade is kind of funny, almost like someone is dealing drugs. You'll run into street vendors with black truffles selling various sizes of small balls at widely varying numbers. I just couldn't bring myself to buying an unknown commodity from someone I didn't know and paying a lot of money for it."

Well there used to be a "black" market in white truffles in Asti in the early morning hours where hunters sell to vendors to sell to tourists at the Alba fair, but nowadays I think the hunters in Piedmont sell directly to the restaurants and I am sure that most of the white Piedmontese truffles sold to tourists at the big truffle fairs are imported from Tuscany and Umbria, which although have fine truffles, do not apparent have the same pungency, flavour and high price as the Piedmontese. I always advise my visiting friends and guests not to buy from the markets unless they have an local Italian friend with them, although the atmosphere (and smell)is superb. Much better to have your truffle at a good restaurant which knows it's business how to choose and serve them.
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Jun 7th, 2007, 10:36 AM
  #22
 
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I believe the truffle capital of Italy is Alba. The wine
is also of the finest quality to be found.
sebastian
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Jun 7th, 2007, 12:17 PM
  #23
 
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I brought back several jars of black and white truffles packed in olive oil from a shop that sold nothing else in Milan.

While not as perfect as just picked, I was able to enjoy them for months and intend to buy more when I return in the fall.
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Jun 8th, 2007, 05:56 AM
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Both black and white truffles are found in Italy and around the world.
The prized white truffles, however, are found ONLY in Italy.
Whereas you can find black truffles in other parts of the world.
You can find a lot out about truffles (there are dozens at least of different varieties, but only a few gourmet ones), here is one website:
http://www.dolcevita.com/cuisine/truffle/truffle.htm

Alba in Piemonte has the best white truffles. Although in both Tuscany and Piemonte you can go on truffle hunts, with the truffle hunter and his dog. Fun stuff.
Cheers,
Ellen
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Jun 8th, 2007, 06:30 AM
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Here's a good truffle story- A friend was in Italy during truffle season. She ordered the special pasta with shaved truffles, and was amazed at the low price on the menu for a dish with truffles, but said to her companion, "Isn't Italy great? They keep the prices reasonable during truffle season!"

The waiter brought them plates of plain pasta and a giant white truffle which he began shaving over the plates. He said something along the lines of "say when." They just let him keep on shaving, thinking they had hit the jackpot.

Oh yes- when the bill came they finally realized that the cheap price covered just the pasta. They were charged by weight for the truffle shavings, and should have said when MUCH sooner!

She said it was an amazing meal, and they truly enjoyed it because they were still innocently thinking they had gotten the best deal ever!

Do they sell truffle salt in Italy? We get it at our local cheese/gourmet shop and it is fabulous sprinkled on a steak or risotto. A little goes a long way and the "perfume" is very strong.
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Jun 8th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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Just as an FYI, the prized white truffles are also found in Croatia. In fact, we have gone truffle hunting in both Croatia and Italy and actually prefer those from Croatia (not that we don't love both). We LOVE truffles and found a fabulous truffles only restaurant in Croatia as well.

I would HIGHLY recommend a truffle hunt.

White truffles can be several hundred dollars per truffle - we have been to truffle festivals and have seen huge ones. Not cheap!
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Nov 1st, 2007, 07:19 AM
  #27
 
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Just found this post and wanted to add that there is a tremendous truffle shortage this year due to weather conditions and a few other factors. Wholesale prices of Italian white truffles in the US are reaching a whopping $4-$6,000 a pound....

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Nov 1st, 2007, 11:06 AM
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It has been a very dry year in Piedmont which has led to a shortage of local white truffles, although they still seem to be plentiful at the Alba truffle fair (Croatia?).

The good news is that the rain has started, and its getting cold, which is good for white truffles, Locals in these parts say that November is the time to start thinking about eating truffles. The big Alba fair is over next weekend, but every weekend in November there are several truffle festivals in the small towns around Asti, Alba and Alessandria.
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Nov 1st, 2007, 05:37 PM
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travel2live: Would you mind elaborating further on the white truffle hunting in Croatia (when & where, contacts, website etc). Thanks.
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Nov 1st, 2007, 06:25 PM
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We are not allowed to say exactly where we went or give names (it is very hush hush) but it was in Istria. In fact, if I were to drive there I wouldn't be able to find it - we went in the dark with the hunter guy. We inquired about it at the tourist information centre in the small town of Roc. You may have to go there in person. The girl there helped us organize it.

We went at the very end of September which was the beginning of the season. It is roughly October to December.

It was simply amazing - something I will not forget!
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Nov 2nd, 2007, 01:27 PM
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Here in the SF Bay Area I shop at a store that sells truffle-specked sweet butter (frozen) in the fall and winter. Adding that as a finish to sauces makes them delicious.

But in Italy, also look for pecorino cheese with truffles. There is a fresh pecorino with truffles that I shred over an omelette just before serving ---- DIVINE!!!!!! This cheese is vacuum packed, so it it easy to bring it home if you find it.

Charnee

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Nov 2nd, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Shoppers in New York can find that truffled pecorino in several stages of ageing, so I suspect if you look around you will find it in SF as well. The most widely available one is by a company whose name begins with a "B." Bosco..something, I am guessing. But I like the more aged one which is more difficult to find.

By the way and kind of on the subject, I wonder if people know that "truffle oil" is not made with actual truffles but with synthetic flavors that mimic the real thing.
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Nov 2nd, 2007, 02:06 PM
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Yes - that is so true about truffle oil. It is still ok if you are desperate but pales in comparison to the real thing. Give me the real thing any time!

Oregon truffles are alright (I've only had them about five times) but do not even come close to those found in Europe.
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Nov 2nd, 2007, 11:58 PM
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travel2, can you tell us what the average market price per gram for white truffles in Croatia? I am curious to know.
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Nov 3rd, 2007, 04:06 AM
  #35
 
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Can you tell us the market price per gram in Alba as well?

In New York restaurants that have them, it usually costs at least $60-$100 extra to have them shaved on top of your pasta, eggs, etc... One well-known place (San Domenico) gives the cost at $6.00 per gram..can this be true? (It sounds so inexpensive!!)

Here are some of the dishes they will serve at their truffle gala:


http://www.sandomeniconewyork.com/news.php
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Nov 3rd, 2007, 11:08 AM
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I Piedmont the price of the white truffles will depend on the size of te truffle (the bigger the truffle the higher cost per gram as big ones are rarer then small ones) and where you buy from. For an average white truffle say 10-20 grams, from the truffle hunter direct 3-4 euro a gram, at a local truffle market 4-5 euro a gram, at the restuarant 5-6 euro a gram. In Alba also you will pay around 5-6 euro a gram.

Most good osterie and trattorie will charge by the gram to shave truffles over your plate of pasta, rissotto or scrambled eggs, they will let you choose from their daily selection, and will weigh the truffle in front of you, shave it until you cry uncle and then leave the truffle and shaver with you in case you are tempted to take more. If anything is left they will weigh it again. I am always dubious about restaurants which offer pre-shaved truffle dishes, I want to see the truffle and do it myself, that's part of what I am paying for.
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Nov 3rd, 2007, 11:36 AM
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Ekscrunchy,

Actually, about the truffled pecorino, yes, we have it here in the Bay Area. I get it all the time at the Pasta Shop in Oakland. I believe the one you are thinking of is Boschetto, or something like that. I like the one that it a pecorino toscana - young. They also have the more aged ones, which are better on pasta, I think.

Charnee
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Nov 3rd, 2007, 12:18 PM
  #38
 
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Thanks for the information, Sampaguita. I am amazed that the NYC price is "only" $6.00 per gram at a fine restaurant! That is less than the Alba price! Can this be true?


Charness: Yes, Boschetto! I saw it today in my local store. I do like the aged one better for pasta and eggs.

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Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:17 PM
  #39
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travel2live: Are you pulling my legs about not being able to mention any names? I hope they didn't blindfold you.
Can you perhaps let us know how much it cost to do the truffle hunting? Did you find any and did you have to pay again for the truffle you picked? Which tourist office did you go to get it all arranged? Thanks
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Nov 5th, 2007, 09:54 AM
  #40
 
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I wonder where the truffles in NYC come from? We still haven't got a price tag on Crotia yet.
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