From the 6th of October to the 25th of November 2018 Alba, a nice ancient town in Piedmont (Italy), is going to host the 88thInternational White Truffle Fair, a yearly meet-up for truffle producers and truffle consumers which is considered to be the most important market in the world for this product.
To give the reader an idea of its relevance, it is sufficient to list off the numbers of the latest edition (2017): 110.000 visitors from all over the world, 1.600.000 likes on Facebook, 250.000 sessions on the official web site. The number of visitors have been constantly increasing over the years, with an astonishing + 75% from the prior year in 2017.
Why the International Alba White Truffle Fair has become so popular as to attract thousands and thousands of travellers? The answer lies in the fact that its organizers have been able to turn the fair into something much different from an ordinary market for adepts. Actually, Alba Truffle Fair is a big festival where visitors are continually seduced with food and wine tastings, cultural and artistical events, cooking shows in which notorious chefs cook in front of the audience: in a word, it is a never-ending show that engages its audience for about six weeks.
In fact it’s sufficient to have a look at the program of the fair to understand why so many people, even not are particularly interested in truffles, head to Alba in October. Traditionally the calendar of the events of the month starts with the Palio of the Donkeys, an historical event that takes place on the first Sunday of the month and that is strongly connected to the history of the truffle fair itself. This is just the first of many events dominated by historical re-enactments: during the same period of time takes place the Medieval Parade and the memorable Truffle Bacchanal, one of the most anticipated and distinctive events who takes place in the everyday medieval life, characterised by good food and good time. Every weekend there are food tastings with star chefs, in addition there are many cultural and folkloristic shows, the Fassona Fair (the esteemed local breed of beef) as well as 4 other food markets that will take place at the same time. There are even special events for children, such as the Kids Alba Truffle.
So, which events specifically for truffle lovers are happenings? If you love truffle flavours, remember that this market does target people like you. Therefore, during the fair you will have the opportunity to meet the most important producers and merchants of truffles in the world and taste some of the most delicious varieties of both white and black truffles.
For buyers, the International Alba White Truffle Fair is obviously the right place to purchase. White truffle prices range from about 250 euro to over 500 euro per hectogram (about 0,22 pounds). The factors that affect the price are the variety (black truffles are less expensive), the freshness (the fresher the truffle, the more costly it is), the size (being uncommon, bigger truffles are more expensive), the year (the crops of some specific years are of greater quality).
La Crota delle Langhe will be among the places included in the food itineraries of the fair for the 37th consecutive time. This year will also mark the 41th edition since the beginning of the exhibition that our Danilo Lorusso will participate in his capacity of chef.
Coming to Alba in Autumn may be the right occasion to enjoy a great parade of events, festivals and food markets that take up the whole area of Langhe (the area in the South of Piedmont where the town is placed), starting with the beginning of the fair and until the end of the year.
Let’s start to list off the most interesting events with the ones that take place in Alba itself. The Slow Food Earth Market is devoted to farmers and producers who respect Slow Food philosophy. Quality, fair prices, local economy fostering are the key-elements of Slow Food’s mantra that have conquered its audience at global level. Zero Miles market “Campagna Amica” targets consumers who believe in locally-sourced products. It is a great occasion to meet some of the farmers of Langhe and taste their typical, handcrafted (and very delicious) products which range from fresh dumplings to mature cheese. Lastly, every Sunday an itinerant market in Alba’s old part of town makes you experience the atmosphere of the past with its colourful stalls lined on the sides of the narrow and densely crowded streets.
Outside of Alba, the XIX edition of the Alba White Truffle World Auction will take place in the posh ambience of the castle of Grinzane Cavour on Sunday the 11th of November. Many international V.I.P.s are usually in attendance at this event. Cantine aperte is a format thought for wine enthusiasts which allows them to visit some of the best-known wine producers near Alba. Wine-tastings are included. Palio of Asti is a September traditional festival in Asti which has its climax in a colorful bareback horse race. It takes place a few days after the Douja d’Or, a market of top-quality Italian wines.
In Langhe, autumn is a season full of food festivals, where it is possible to taste multiple some of the most renowned Piedmontese wines. Among the most appreciated events of this kind we have Sorì in Sorì in Diano d’Alba and Mangialongain La Morra.
Black and white truffles are usually grated on the food to spice it up. The unique and strong fragrances of truffles are incompatible with other spices, like pepper. Therefore, cooking with white truffles is not so much complicated in the end. Recipes must be necessarily kept simple in order to get the best out of your valued white truffles.
A famous – and very simple – dish that can be spiced with some grated truffle is fried eggs. In the Langhe region it is also common to have steak tartare garnished with some thin slices of truffle on the top. However, the most popular recipe with white truffles is probably still Tajarin, a traditional local pasta dish that is served seasoned with some butter, some grated parmesan cheese and a topping of very thin slices of white truffle. Another traditional dish of Piedmont is also risotto with truffles.
Wine pairings with truffles are a hard matter, as truffle flavours can be easily covered by wine aftertastes. As a rule of thumbs, never pair either dark or white truffles with wines with powerful aroma or vanilla aftertastes or strong acidity. Among the red wines from Langhe, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir or Alta Langa served cold may all be a good choice because of their light tannins.
Roddi is placed nearly five km away from Alba. It hosts an important school to train truffle dogs and a permanent installation dedicated to the scientific aspects that is curated by Giordano Berti with the help of the National Centre for Truffles. In the city hall, the pages of the Great Book of Truffles Hunters tells visitors all the secrets of this product who has been defined “Diamond of the cuisine”.
In autumn, in Roddi there are some events and fairs for food lovers and wine enthusiasts as well. A useful resource is the web site Langhe.net, which lists all the most interesting events and festivals in South Piedmont.
Being located only 10 minutes from Alba, La Crota delle Langhe is an ideal place to stay for those who wish to visit the International Alba White Truffle Fair or explore the beautiful landscapes around, which have been declared Unesco World heritage in 2014. We look forward to welcoming you in the Town of Truffles, as Roddi is known in Italy and abroad.
Link to the official web site of the International Alba White Truffle Fair:
Tue-Sat: 12:30-14:30 / 19:00-21:30