I would like to go on record to declare that the intoxicating smell of truffles might possibly be my all-time favorite smell. Every time the pungent and earthy aromas fill the air, I immediately have a huge smile upon my face.
For the last month, every weekend I would visit the farmers market in the medieval town of Alba, which is home to the Fiera del Tartufo, or the Alba truffle fair.
Last week HD and I decided to visit the event that attracts thousands of people from around the world. It was a treat to walk around and feel the buzz and excitement from the buyers that were touring the pavilion and visiting vendors who are peddling their latest hunted truffles.
The harvest begins in September until December in the picturesque hills of the Langhe. The grow underground next to oak trees and are found by specially trained dogs in the middle of the night.
A few fun facts about truffles:
Truffles or tuber magnatum pico (its scientific name) are one of the most expensive foods on earth. On average expect to pay around $4,800 per kilo. Lucky for us, we are in Piedmont because the best and most expensive truffles in the world are found here.
White truffles have a very short shelf life and must be consumed within 1 week of being hunted. White Truffles typically lose up to around 5% of their body weight every day.
The largest truffle in the world weighed 1.31 kilograms (2 lb 14 oz) and has entered the Guinness Book of Records weighing the most for a truffle ever found.
The white truffle is far more superior to the less prestigious black truffle. In fact, white truffles must never be cooked but consumed raw. It is best-shaved paper-thin over simple dishes like plin with butter and sage, scrabbled eggs, or a simple risotto.
Here are a few ways I have had the pleasure to enjoy truffles this past week.
Poached Potato cream with lapsang souchone (adds a smokiness quality), poached egg yolk, and black Alba truffles. Enjoyed at Ristorante Piazza Duomo in Alba.
'Agnolotti al Plin' filled with Veal served with a sauce of butter and sage finished with white truffle. Enjoyed at The Enoteca at Marchesi di Barolo.
Black truffle wafer with chocolate cream served with truffle gelato and hazelnuts.
Sipping on delicious bubbles with friends in Serralunga d'Alba was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you find yourself visiting this spectacular village, make sure you stop by Vinoteca Centro Storico (Via Roma 6, Serralunga d'Alba; 011-39-0173-613-203). It has become one of my favorite places to eat and drink in Piedmont.
Every day I pass by the vineyards I am beginning to see the colors of the leaves change into the most beautiful colors of fall. Tonight while driving, I had to pull over so I could snap some photos and share them with you. Just imagine the smell of wood burning from fireplaces mixed with the chill of the Autumn air, and this stunning full moon in the distance. Welcome to Barolo!
Castiglione Falletto is a commune (municipality) in the Province of Cuneo in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 50 km southeast of Turin and about 40 km northeast of Cuneo. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 643 and an area of 4.7 km.
My neighbor and friend Jessica took these amazing photos of our village. Our small and charming town is surrounded by some of the finest vineyards in the region. It really has been an amazing and magical place to call home.
I live next door to a castle.
If I owned it the gates would be open.
Just hanging out in my hood!
Across the street neighbors.
The clock starts ringing every day at 7 am until 11 am. Poor Jessica's window is next to the clock!
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs
It was an exciting day because my Birthday happened to fall on the same day we picked the Rocche vineyard. The day was long and we didn't finish until after 9pm but that did not stop us from enjoying a bottle or two of celebratory bubbles in Alba. I can't wait until it is released and I get to drink the 2011 Vietti Rocche, Barolo.
Drenched in wine after draining the tank.
Rocche (nebbiolo) grapes arriving on the sorting table.
After we pressed a tank of Barbera it was time to shovel the pomace into plastic containers. The pomace will be delivered to a local distillery and made into grappa.
After a much needed shower it was out for some drinks with friends and HD.
This week was very exciting at the winery. We had to top of the barrels and it was extremely physically demanding. Every single muscle of my body was in pain after topping off over 800 barrels.
Trying to get the bung out.
I learned how to siphon wine out of a barrel which ended in a mess my first time. I didn’t think the wine was going to come out as fast as it did so I ended up with wine in my hair, face, and all of my shirt. By the second time I had mastered the art.
Practice makes almost perfect.
Look! They gave me a gun!
I also learned how to check the stainless steel fermentation tanks to make sure the wine was in sound and in good health. Following the Cellar master was intense. I had no idea how much work really goes into the daily operations of running a successful winery.