A few year ago a bunch of friends picked me up for a few days trip. It was a weekend in the middle of November and we have taken a break to the university commitments.
We decided to head to Piedmont, to the truffle lands; indeed in November, just before the winter time, here started the truffle hunting, dedicated to the precious white truffle.
We spend a long weekend in Alba to enjoy the flavor and the tastiness of the truffle based cuisine, dishes based especially on rice and eggs with an intense unique aroma.
I remember that the truffle perfume was all around the Alba’s alleys!
The legend tells that it was born by Zeus’ lighting and that its “quintessence” was also appreciated by alchemists in the Middle Ages.
Whatever the truth, the truffle is one of the finest products of Piedmont.
The Piedmontese truffles picking took place fromancient times, but only in 1600 it began intensively to use truffles, probably in imitation of French cuisine. The highlight was reached in ‘700, and his research, became fashionable among the nobility, who organized the “hunting” activities.
From that time onwards, the Piedmontese truffles became more and more famous and appreciated. The truffle is essentially a fragrance. Researchers have in fact identified, in 1981, the presence of pheromones that will release over 120 fragrances.
But technically the truffle is a fungus that growing underground, belonging to the Tuberacee family, born and raised clinging to the roots of a tree. And it is precisely this feature that can develop its characteristic smell, which can only be perceived at the time of ripening of the spores.
Tuber Magnatum Pico (known as Tartufo Bianco d’Alba or Acqualagna) grows from October to the end of December. It has elliptical spores by smooth rind of light yellow and a brown glebe with light veins purposes and numerous. It gives off a strong and pleasant scent.
Tuber Melanosporum Vitt. (the Black Truffle), its name is due to its dark color that characterizes both the rind both internal serfdom, which comes with shades from very dark red to brown, has a rounded appearance, very compact and it can warty reach considerable size.
Tuber Aestivum Vitt, called “Scorzone” is a black truffle that is possibile to find in summer. The term ‘scorzone’ derives from the characteristic of this truffles to have a rough bark and warty. It grows on sandy soils is both clay, in the woods and pine forests, from sea coasts to 1000 meters. The tree species which is associated with the development of “scorzone” truffles are the oaks, the hornbeam and hazel.
The picking starts in May, continuing until late autumn. Even it is less valuable than the white truffle and black truffle, the “scorzone” is a truffle vastly appreciated, for its affordable price than for its versatile use in the kitchen and ease of maintenance.
Tuber uncinatum Chatin, called “Uncinato” is the typical autumn truffle is a variety of highly valued truffle because it is characterized by a not expansive price and a flavor and aroma that can characterize individual dishes.
Someone compares it to the “Scorzone”, because it comes from the Dark Tuffle family, but the “Uncinato” has a much more intense aroma. The “Uncinato” size can be like a hazelnut’s to an orange’s but it could reach the 700 g weight. It has an outer rind warty but very dark. The environment in which the “Uncinato” develops is the forest with particular emphasis on Turkey oak trees, oak and hornbeam.
“Tuber brumale var moschatum De Ferry” il the scientific name of the “Uncinato”. This kind of truffle has a very dark bark and similar to the prized black truffle. The inner pulp has white streaks, the aroma of spicy notes and has a particular and penetrating odor resembling that of musk and undergrowth.
From the capital of Langhe, Alba, to Murisengo and Monferrato, from San Sebastiano Curone to Vezza d’Alba, the Alessandria’s province, the last weeks of November town festivals are dedicated to the truffles. Specially to the white truffle, the most coveted.
On September 23 last year, the National Association City of Truffles with the Truffle Studies National Center have presented in Turin to the City Council, the candidacy of the truffle culture as intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.
The application path “of the truffle culture” contributed two important scientific partners: the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and the University of Siena. The goal is to certify and formalize, defend and pass on the “myth of the truffle” as the fruit of the land of inestimable value and also as a symbol of a wealth of knowledge and tradition that traces the history of the relationship between man, nature, animals and the local area. There are thirteen Italian regions involved who share these same cultural values underlying the recognition of the truffle as a symbol of unity and national unity.
Planning a truffle trip it means to discover the foggy and dump low Piedmont, the Langhe.
This the land between Cuneo and Asti provinces and offers a succession of spectacular views. If only through the “Strada Romantica”, a distance of eleven stages that winds of 100 km, you can see the variety of these places in their entirety.
You will come across in the steep profiles of the ”Rocche del Roero”, became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in the hills of Barolo and Barbaresco and their vineyards, to the Alta Langa scenarios, dominated by the green lush forests. You can stop and visit some cellars, some of which are also beautiful and design and taste the local wine.
The medieval castles, that arise in the area, are a stunning landscape. Among the most beautiful there are the Barolo Castle, which houses the Wine Museum, the Govone Castle, the Grinzane Cavour castle, the Magliano Alfieri, the Costigliole d’Asti, the Mango, the Monesiglio, the Monticello d’Alba, the Pralormo just to name a few.
We don’t forget that the Langhe are among the best wine regions in the world, thanks to a vine that has no many rivals, Nebbiolo, with which you make Barolo and Barbaresco. The first, called “the king of wines, the wine of kings,” has deep garnet color and a bouquet that gradually becomes more complex with the passing years. The other great Langhe wine, Barbaresco, is produced in a small area which includes four municipalities and is characterized by a more delicate flavor.
So Autumn is the best season to fully enjoy the charm of this land, which not only offers food and wine, but also gave birth to many great men of modern Italian literature, including Cesare Pavese and Beppe Fenoglio, who here have set many of their most important novels, recounting the magic of this beautiful area.