Tag Archives: truffles

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

“It is not a job. It’s a passion, a real sickness!” It is the early hours of the morning and Giovanni Sacchetto is explaining why chilly autumn nights find him trailing by moonlight through the woods around Alba in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Sacchetto, 64, and his beloved companion Dora, a sprightly Lagotto Romagnolo gundog, are on the hunt for white truffles, the hard-to-find fungi famed amongst foodies for their earthy scent, and their equally heady prices.

“I can go to bed at 11:00 pm and be up again at 3:00 am, ready to go out again,” Sacchetto says. “It is not for the money. It is a sickness you have inside. A truffle is a strange thing. And it’s lovely, because it’s so strange. You never know where you might find one. Never.”

Now nine, Dora has been Sacchetto’s constant companion since she was an eager young puppy learning how to use her sensitive nose to sniff out truffles buried beneath the forest floor.

“I’m not saying it is better than a wife, but for a truffle hunter his dog is something… indescribable,” Sacchetto says with a smile.

Part of humanity’s heritage

The Romagnolo breed is known for its acute sense of smell but individual dogs still have to be trained, starting with pieces of gorgonzola, the whiffy Italian blue cheese, buried under ground, before graduating to actual truffles.

Now when Dora locates a truffle, she wags her tail excitedly over the spot where a valuable tuber awaits – usually buried between 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) below the surface.

For her it is a game – her efforts rewarded with a treat in the form of a biscuit or a little piece of dry bread.

Sacchetto was 14 when he first went truffle hunting, with his grandfather. At the time, it was about putting food on the table, he recalls.

Now it is more of a hobby, but secret spots are still jealously guarded. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years, I know all the plants, all the paths.”

At one time, truffles were more plentiful but the cutting of some trees and the effects of pollution on others has reduced the autumnal bounty, he says.

Fears the delicate ecosystem that produces the white truffles could be at risk has triggered a crowdfunding initiative aimed at raising 50,000 euros to ensure better management of the local woodlands.

Antonio Degiacomi, president of the National Centre for the Study of Truffles, says wooded areas around Alba have been neglected, with faster growing species threatening to crowd out truffle-friendly trees like oaks and lime trees.

“There is not an imminent threat but we have to be pro-active,” he says.

Helpful measures include thinning denser woodland and planting new trees but coordinating action is complicated, notably because the hunters who know where truffles are produced often do not own the land on which they forage.

Like fine wine

Tracking down edible fungi is an Italian obsession with some 200,000 active enthusiasts nationwide, of whom 4,000 are based in Piedmont.

The country is so proud of its truffle culture that it has asked for it be enshrined on a list of humanity’s intangible heritage maintained by the UN’s culture body, UNESCO.

Alba is already well known in gastronomic circles as home to some of Italy’s most famous red wines and it has been hosting an annual white truffle fair since before World War II, drawing in thousands of gourmet pilgrims for nearly two months of tasting, buying and selling.

This year’s festivities conclude on November 27 and prices are averaging 3,000-4,000 euros ($3,300-$4,400) per kilo.

For Swiss enthusiast Marie-Claude, it is a price worth paying. “Just the scent is something unique,” she said. “Personally I like it best with something really simple, just on some pasta or a risotto.”

Matteo Baronetto, head chef at the Michelin-starred “Del Cambio” restaurant in nearby Turin, concurs.

“The thing that is very specific to the Alba truffle is the incomparable lightness of its aroma, and its elegance,” he says as he assembles a salad of seasonal vegetables speckled by ultra-fine shavings of the local delicacy.

“It is such a pure product of nature that us chefs have to be at the service of the truffle, and not the other way round.”

Harvested from September 21 until the end of January, truffles need both rain and cold to thrive, according to Sacchetto.

“The colder it is, the better the truffle,” he says, adding that no two are exactly alike. “The truffle is like wine, each zone has its own smell and those from Alba are the most perfumed.”

Largest Black Truffle Found in Victoria, Australia

Weighing in at 1,511 grams it is said to be the largest black truffle ever discovered in Australia and possibly the world. Stuart Dunbar, the man who dug the fungus out of the earth on his property in Victoria, has known of the truffle since February but only started digging on Thursday. The 45-minute search unearthed a find that could well be worth US$2,300.

Unaware of the size, Dunbar was only aware of its presence thanks to the ripening aroma that was more distinct in the warmer weather. Prior to this find, the Australian had dug up a “beautiful edible truffle” that weighed around 720 grams. The previous record held for largest black truffle, was from Perigord, France in 2012, weighing 1.277 grams. There have, however, been white truffles that weigh more that the current mammoth-sized truffle found.

The celebration for the massive — and lets not forget expensive — truffle, was short lived as it was too big for Dunbar’s regular chefs to accept. “My regular customers had already taken truffles for the week,” he said, noting that once unearthed, truffles are in their prime for just four to five days. Instead Dunbar has decided to pickle the truffle in vodka, allowing it to be preserved in one piece.

Truffles usually grow in the root systems of host trees before being sniffed out by specially trained pigs or dogs. The finest black truffles have a subtle aroma and an earthy flavor reminiscent of rich chocolate.

McD Japan blackDiamond

McDonald’s Japan charges $10 For Truffle Burger

McDonalds Japan quarter pounder jewelry

McDonald’s Japan went highbrow recently, releasing a trio of special-edition gourmet burgers filled with thick slices of pineapple, black truffles and chorizo sausage for about $10 a pop.

Released in one-day only sales, the premium sandwiches were presented in glossy, white boutique bags emblazoned with the golden arches.

Replacing generic burger boxes were fancy, shiny gift boxes housing sandwiches with names like the Gold Ring, Black Diamond and Ruby Spark, a limited-edition series dubbed the Quarter Pounder Jewelry Series. Sandwiches were released intermittently throughout July and sold for one day only.

Black Diamond burger

Kicking off the series was the Gold Ring, filled with thick slices of grilled pineapple, smokey thick-cut bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and barbecue sauce.

The Black Diamond burger was perhaps the most decadent, featuring grilled mushrooms, onions, cheese and a black truffle sauce, while the Ruby Spark was filled with slices of spicy chorizo sausage, avocado and Pepper Jack cheese.

Major fast food burger chains have faced increasing pressure from smaller, mid-sized brands such as Five Guys, Shake Shack and In-N-Out which tout made-to-order, premium offerings.

LILY by Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney Launching LILY Fragrance

LILY by Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has announced the launch of her latest fragrance, which unusually features truffle as a top note.

Entitled L.I.L.Y, the perfume will launch exclusively in the UK at department store Selfridges January 26 before reaching other retailers February 15.

L.I.L.Y stands for ‘Linda I Love You’, which was the nickname given by Stella McCartney’s father, Sir Paul McCartney, to his late wife Linda.
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white Italian truffle

As Italian stocks crash, truffle prices go up

white Italian truffle

Italian stock markets are sharply down this year, but the price of white truffle has doubled to 3,000 euros ($4,100) per kilogram in just a week.

Truffle hunters say the increase is due to low average rainfall in areas where truffle is found, as well as higher demand — particularly from buyers in Asia where truffle tastes have taken off, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The price is now at around 3,000 euros for large truffles and some 2,500 euros per kilogramme for smaller tubers — far higher than last year.
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Truffles luxury delicacy

Climate change may make truffles a German delicacy

Truffles luxury delicacy

Truffles, a luxury delicacy in French and Italian cuisine, may soon be adding flavour to blander dishes, as it migrates further north amid climate change.

Ulf Buentgen, a climatologist, told AFP that a rise in average temperature observed during 20th century may be shifting the natural habitat of the delicacy about 100 kilometres north, from France and Italy to Germany.
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the most expensive hot dog

Most Expensive Hot Dog in the World

the most expensive hot dog

What was created as a novelty item last year has now been added to a popular New York restaurant menu permanently.

The ‘Serendipity Foot Long Haute Dog’ was admitted into the Guinness World Records last year for being the most expensive hot dog in the world, at $69.

Months after its creation, Serendipity 3, has now put the luxurious ‘haute’ dog on their menu for the deep-pocketed, hot dog aficionado.

The foot-long hot dog (30 cm) is made from pure beef, grilled in white truffle oil, sandwiched in a pretzel bun from Germany, and toasted with white truffle butter.
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Ian Purkayastha

At 18, he’s the US teen truffle tycoon

Ian Purkayastha

Ian Purkayastha’s teenage revolution didn’t involve rock groups, rebelling against his parents or embarrassing fashion experiments.

For him it was: “black truffle ravioli with foie gras sauce”.

And three years later, aged 18, Purkayastha not only remembers the “amazing” taste of that dish, but he’s turned himself into one of America’s leading truffle tycoons.
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Macau Casino Magnate Buys Truffles for $330,000

Stanley Ho recently matched his own world record price paid for a truffle when he bought a couple white truffles for a total cost of $330,000 at a truffle auction.

The billionaire made his winning bid through representatives at the event held at his own Grand Lisboa hotel in Macau last week end.

Ho’s winning bid bought him a giant truffle from Italy’s central Tuscany region that weighed about 900 grams and a smaller one of about 400 grams.
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Italian giant truffle sold for 105000 euros

A giant white truffle was sold off on Sunday for 105,000 euros (144,000 dollars) at a lavish auction near the town of Alba in northern Italy, organisers said.

The truffle, presented at the auction in the medieval Castello di Grinzane in a region of Italy famous for its cuisine, weighed 900 grammes.

The price per gramme for the truffle was therefore 117 euros — lower than the rate of 133 euros per gramme paid at the same auction last year.
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White truffle season is here

Economic woes have not lessoned the demand for the swine sniffing white truffles from Alba, Italy as well as parts of Croatia and France.

The ‘white gold’ peak season begins at the end of October with an expected price tag of €4,300 per kilogram.

According to The Sunday Times, “White truffles are cheaper this year, by as much as 40 per cent compared to last year’s peak prices.”

Chefs in Singapore including Luca Pezzera of Bonta have declared 2010 a very good year for white truffles and not just in price.
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The world’s priciest foods

According to The world’s priciest food list compiled by Fortune Small Business, a CNN magazine, world’s most expensive food is Edible gold leaf.

The edible gold leaf comes with a price tag of $15,000 per pound.

No worries, like calcium and iron, gold is actually a mineral that’s safe to eat although it’s not an essential part of the human diet ^_^
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There is caviar-flavored ice cream!

Upscale French artisan ice-cream maker Philippe Faur has taken out the ice cream of the universe of the desserts and he indefatigably works In his workshop to create new flavours always more surprising.

After such original products as the Truffle Ice-Cream, the Roquefort ice-cream or the Foie Gras de Canard sorbet developed with Rougié (Prix International de l’Innovation 2007), he has recently made his idea of creating a caviar sorbet come true thanks to a collaboration with Alverta Royal Petrossian.

This ice-cream which contains 60% caviar, from a white sturgeon, took both specialists 6 months to develop and it is is recommended to accompany smoked salmon, scallops or simply a baked potato…

Though, it is reported to possess all the organoleptic qualities of caviar, including in the way it evolves in the mouth It is reported to be a world premiere and unsurprisingly has now become the most expensive ice cream in the world!

Unfortunately, although international customers might be numerous, the ice-creams so far are only shipped within France in a special packaging that prevents them from melting for 72 hours.

A 100 ml tub is priced at 118 €. A 15 ml sample size is also available for 18 €.

The most expensive burger in New York

Its creators admit it is the ultimate in decadence: a $175 hamburger.

The Wall Street Burger Shoppe just raised its price from $150 to assure its designation as the costliest burger in the city as determined by Pocket Change, an online newsletter about the most expensive things in New York.

“Wall Street has good days and bad days. We wanted to have the everyday burger (for $4) … and then something special if you really have a good day on Wall Street,” said co-owner Heather Tierney.

The burger, created by chef and co-owner Kevin O’Connell, seeks to justify its price with a Kobe beef patty, lots of black truffles, seared foie gras, aged Gruyere cheese, wild mushrooms and flecks of gold leaf on a brioche bun.

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Most Expensive Truffle

A Hong Kong property tycoon and his wife have reportedly paid $160,406 for a huge Italian white truffle in 2006, which may be the world’s most expensive ever.

Gordon Wu and his wife outbid connoisseurs from France and Italy to win the 3.3 pounds Alba white truffle from an international auction, a spokeswoman for the Ritz-Carlton hotel, which hosted the Hong Kong part of the auction, said.

It was the second time Hong Kong bidders won a pricey fungus at the annual auction, held in Grizane, Italy and satellite-linked with Paris and Hong Kong.

In 2005, a group of bidders in Hong Kong paid 95,000 euros for a 2.7-pound truffle, a purchase later named by Guinness World Records as the most valuable truffle bought at an auction.
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A $1,000 Sushi Roll

Sushi Roll Caviar

The High Roller sushi roll that sells for $1000 will be served at Koi restaurant in New York : It starts with marinated and poached fois gras that is covered with succulent Langoustine (lobster).

Then the roll is brushed with saffron/vanilla bean butter and encrusted with caviar.

Finally, when the roll is served the Chef comes tableside to shave white Alba truffles and drizzle them with 100 year balsamic.