“Go on, pick up!” Michele harangue in piedmontese dialect of his two dogs. Perla and Macchia, bastard cross between labrador, braque and romagna water dog – breed-deemed truffle – sniff the ground, dig up to dig up the diamond white. And hop, a cake as a reward. Unlike the French, the customary pigs for the digging of the black truffle, the Italians prefer dogs.
Trained from an early age – the breasts of the mother are brushed with truffle oil, in which quenching, also the cork, which serves as their toy -they are important allies, that their masters have to protect them from deadly attacks by competitors. The hunting takes place preferably at night, to the shelter of the glances. Once the nose cave, the hole is plugged and concealed by leaves.
You do not mess with the Tuber magnatum pico . Sold from late September to late January, between 2,000 and 6,000 euros per kilo, depending on the rarity, the quality and the weight of the piece, the white truffle of Alba is one of the most popular in the world. Who suffers, however, from the absence of protected designation of origin by the european Union. The region of the Langhes gives, thanks to the humidity, the pH and the composition of the earth, a bouquet unique, that blends hazelnut, honey, cep mushroom, garlic, artichoke… And yet, a white truffle harvested in the centre of Italy or even the Balkans can pretend to be a truffle of Alba.
Hunting the white truffle in a truffle plantation of the company Tartuflanghe, Alba. FRANÇOIS BOUCHON/ Le Figaro
To counter these usurpations and support the achievement of the european label, the main marketing firm truffle of Alba Tartuflanghe, which provides fresh truffles, freeze-dried and derivatives products to major chefs (Gaston Acurio, Albert Adria, Enrico Crippa) and delis to the four corners of the globe (including the giant Eataly), has developed this year, in exclusivity for Maison de la Truffe, a certification of origin and quality. The luxury brand, owned by the group Caviar Kaspia since 2007, offers to taste and buy in his four parisian restaurants (Madeleine, Marbeuf, the Large Grocery store and Galeries Lafayette Gourmet) truffles exception (25 g minimum), numbered and come with a QR code.
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This last one can play on his smartphone a video, made using a drone, of the precise location where they were found. Traceability 2.0 to validate the value. Tartuflanghe account a thirty small tartufaie (“truffle trees”) in the region (three of which are certified organic), bichonne to get the best product possible. Because if the tartufo bianco remains impossible to cultivate, we can promote its growth.
Paolo Montanaro, who runs the family company with her sister, explains: “For years, we knew of the truffles that would tell us the hunters. This is why we worked with the agricultural universities of Turin and Padua for more information and to put in place better conditions for development.” An ideal spacing between trees of 5 to 6 meters, the branches cut regularly to promote regrowth of the roots with which the truffles live in symbiosis, the “cleaning” of the ground on sunny days by fifty donkeys that graze the weeds… The water after the cleaning of the truffle is even donated on the tartufaie in case it contains even spores.
Good news : unlike last year, 2018 is a good year. The prices are experiencing a decline ever since ten years
in Addition to its long famous for its truffles, Tartuflanghe has worked with more than 300 hunters, old farmers and retired experts of the regional woods, round comfortably their purposes of months. “They are the ones who set the price. We are committed to purchase all they relate to us”, explains Paolo Montanaro.
once picked up, the nose is first washed in a machine to remove 80 % of the earth, and then brushed by hand, using a small knife, ad hoc, before being sorted. The tuber is to be consumed at the latest within eight days after the crop, the unsold and damaged parts or of smaller sizes are placed in glass jars, freeze-dried (this allows to preserve all the organoleptic properties) or used to make oil, salt, honey, butter, mashed potatoes or mayonnaise.
Good news: unlike last year, 2018 is a good year. The prices are experiencing a decline ever seen in the last ten years. The summer rains are abundant on the hills, have allowed the mushrooms popular to grow in number around the roots of oaks, lindens, and willows of the region (Langhe, Roero and Monferrato), in which the wine-growing areas have been classified as world heritage by Unesco in 2014. The auction of truffles held in November for the past nine years the castle of Grinzane Cavour has seen this year a specimen of 850 grams awarded 85,000 euros to a young entrepreneur from hong Kong. What grate generous slices of the tuber which is eaten raw, traditionally on eggs cocotte, veal tartare with a knife, tagliolini (long fresh pasta), fonduta (creamy melted cheese) or risotto.