Truffle love in Alba, Italy ~ Romancing Italy
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Oct 18, 2008

Truffle love in Alba, Italy

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote that I like to take a drive to a place to relax and de-stress . I chose to visit Alba in Northern Italy last Saturday, where there is currently a frenzy of truffle activity. Alba is known as the Truffle Capital and much of the truffles distributed in and around Europe come mainly from France and Italy.

It starts with a good dog with a nose for truffles. I just learned that although pigs have been used in the past for truffle hunting….this practice ended when owners realized that profits were being devoured by the pigs themselves. Oh how delightful.

So dogs are trained to find these little treasures that stink up a storm. The older they get, the smellier they are. But since they remain underground, they aren’t a breeze to find and as a result, the price goes out the window. Alba is unique in that most of the truffles in this area are white – an even rarer find than the black truffles.

Check out these prices.












Insane!

A good nose on a dog will make that dog a very valuable partner -- which unfortunately puts them at risk. According to this article in the National Geographic , dogs are sometimes killed or kidnapped. After all, the idea is "If you don't have a chance to find that rare, huge, truffle, then I do". They mention that although a dog can be trained in several weeks, it can take up to four years for the dog to at its best. Hence a disappearing dog can put a person out of business for a long time.

This year in Alba, the festival will continue until November 9 so there is still time to "enjoy" the sights and scents. ha ha. Okay, so it's not for me, but many people love this treat. Restaurant owners from around the world actually attend an auction to purchase these prized fungi. (Hmm, is it really a type of mushroom?) I didn't buy one, but here I saw the booth to purchase the entrance ticket.


In addition to the truffle stuff, there were other distractions and entertainments. There is a museum showing all the different wine bottle openers of all time. Booths with typical food of the region also line the already narrow streets. Various cafes on the edges of the square vie for your attention and invite passers-by to stop and have a bite or an aperitivo. I ordered a Manhattan

because it made me think of the States (as these days I am missing many things American), and it came....nice and pink...light pink. Does this look like a Manhattan to you? Nevertheless, it hit the spot and I was happy.

Alba was once known as the City of a hundred towers...and there are still a few around. I took a few photos of the buildings in and around the square but I am an idiot and didn't note WHAT they were. They are still pleasing to see even if we don't know what they are.



Follow this link Alba Festival for more information on their program...in english.

You know, truffles are supposed to be an aphrodisiac. Would you pay these prices to get lovey dovey? Or maybe that Manhattan just might do the job!
Link

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