The pure, white Alba truffle, in season from September through December, grows underground and is sniffed out by dogs. The damp woods of Italy’s Langhe (Piedmont) region is where truffles are the most plentiful, growing alongside the roots of oaks, willows, poplars, linden and hazelnut bushes. In fact, it is said the harder the tree’s wood, the better and more intense the truffle’s perfume and, therefore, its flavor. Skin color can range from white, sometimes veined with pink, to gray and brown. Alba truffles can go for thousands of dollars at auction, but typically, they are sold for between $200 and $300 per gram. The white Italian truffle should never be cooked, in order to preserve and enhance its taste. Instead, grate it over crusty bread or sprinkle on piping hot risotto.
September 4, 2007