In the fresh November air, we took a select group on an immersive journey to uncover the secrets of one of Italy’s most sought-after gastronomic experiences: The Alba Truffle.
During a unique three-day adventure our group of culinary explorers, we got close and personal with one of the world’s most exclusive foods. From truffle-match discoveries at legendary local wineries to joining in a traditional truffle hunt and lunch in the warm company of one of the region’s most highly recognized truffle families, the experience was as exquisite and warm hearted as the delicacy we were there to uncover.
The Piedmont region has arguably one of the most refined tastes in Italy. Thanks to our experience savouring elegantly prepared local delicacies made with the best quality veal in the world in preparations such as Vitello Tonnato, Salsiccia di Bra and knife-cut Carne Cruda or the Lange speciality Carne all’albese, we were heartily convinced. The riches of the trip was also thanks to the array of diverse dining locations we discovered, representing the multiplicity the region-from a cosy family-run osteria, considered one of the temples of traditional Piedmontese cuisine to taking in the panoramic views at an exclusive Barolo restaurant.
And while veal, truffles and crisp autumn days are key ingredients for any Northern Italian adventure, we didn’t forget a fundamental element: wine!
With a full tasting tour of the legendary winery with Gaja. We were able to take in the environment and gather deep learning about local grapes and appellations of some of the most coveted wines in Italy. The tour and the tasting was run by Giovanni Gaja, the 5th generation son of the founder family of Italy´s Gaja Wines. We had the opportunity to savour wines personally selected by the Gaja family, including vintages: Costa Russi 2014 (Barbaresco), Conteisa 1996 (Nebbiolo, Barbera) and Sori San Lorenzo (Barbaresco) from 1990.
Founded in 1859, the Gaja winery produces Italy’s celebrated and exclusive Barbaresco and Barolo wines. The current owner and president, dynamic-wine personality Angelo Gaja is credited with developing methods that have transformed winemaking in the country.
Breathing in the perfume of the great, dark and powerful wines of the Pira Wine Estate, was an experience not to be forgotten. True to the high iron and clay content in the soils: tar, iodine, smoked meat and earth are typical components in any vintage, and apparent in the world famous bottles produced at this exclusive estate.
Here the strictly manual work on the vines is carried out with extreme care and respect for the environment, following the dictates of organic cultivation, for which the company has been certified since the 2014 harvest. The production is very limited (about 40,000 bottles per year), from grapes of direct production.
During this trip, where we toured the winery and tried all their assortment including some of their vintages, we had the privilege of meeting Chiara Boschis, the first female winemaker in the area and one of the first women producers of Barolo in the late 1980s.
An immersive experience with a historical family
What better way to allow the group to experience the 360° knowledge of the earthly delight, than participating in a truffle hunt and lunch prepared with our bounty in the warm company of one of Alba’s most important truffle families ? Our group participated in hunting with the professional truffle hunter, a trifulau and his dog Lola. He helped us find seven white alba truffles, which were later enjoyed in traditional meals prepared by the family: tajarin and fried egg. Truffle hunters for four generations, we were given insider insight into their grounds, hunting methods and preparation techniques, and were able to ask questions and gain valuable knowledge.
The hunting experience and the smell of truffle freshly unearthed from the ground, is something special that all the group will remember. And while we had the pleasure of indulging in some of the ultimate ways to taste white truffles, Piedmont style, with home-made pasta from golden Tajarin to Raviolini di fonduta or del Plin in elegant warm-hearted local trattorias. We were also delighted in another of the region’s natural delicacies with a visit to a Hazelnut producer. This Family business is currently run by the two sons of the founding family. One of them takes care of the trees and plantation, another, a former pastry chef, takes care of production: roasting hazelnuts and making delicious chocolate spreads, which the group had the opportunity to try. Finishing an incredible tour of Northern Italian delights on a delectably sweet note.