Internazionale Tartufo Bianco d’Abla (International White Truffle Festival)
The 88th Fiera Internazionale Tartufo Bianco d’Abla takes place during weekends of October and November.
The cost of a ticket into the Alba White Truffle World Market was 3.50 euro. When you get your ticket, is it dated and good for readmission during the same day. If you go another day, that is another ticket- we made this mistake first hand trying to use Saturday’s ticket for Sunday. This ticket can also be purchased online.
We walked in and it was white truffle overload. Three rows of vendors selling white and black truffles, truffle products, breads, pastas, cheeses, meats, and wine. Endless possibilities of trying all of these things from the vendors as they seem very generous on giving out samples.
In the middle of the room were all the local truffle hunters showcasing their prized truffles in glass cases for all the view and buy.
It is worth noting that there are many, many shops and places around Alba selling these truffles but what makes the Truffle Fair unique is that there are certifiers that validate each truffle for quality. So while you may pay a but more for the white truffle here, you are getting a guaranteed product. This occasion was where I wish we had an AIrbnb with a kitchen. We could have got some cheese wedges, a truffle shaver, some freshly made pasta, a bottle of wine, and a white truffle to make ourselves for lunch, dinner, or whenever. Things to keep in mind for the future!
In the back is where you can redeem the wine tasting if purchased with admission with your “tasta di vino” (wine pocket) or order food with white truffle options.
The charge here for a white truffle was 25 euro on top of whatever the price of the base dish, which was a good value. We were starving and since we did not have a kitchen for our fantasy meal, we ordered a few items from the menu. To start, we got a plate of piedmontese cheeses and a dish of tajarin with butter and white truffles (tajarin con burro e tartufo bianco for those keeping track in Italian!).
While not the pastas is not same quality as the restaurant ones we have become spoiled with, it was perfect for lunch. We also ordered a few glasses of wine, most of which were 3.50 euro a glass so that was a deal that could not be beat. Another lap around the festival and we exited for a dessert break.
There are many programs that occur during the weekends of the Truffle Festival such as cooking demonstrations, truffle sensory experiences, and wine tastings. Since it was the first weekend of the festival, there were only a few events so we got tickets to participate in the guided Barolo tasting experience. With about an hour until the tasting at 1730, we got in line for a plate of Salami and Tuma cheese (tuma is pecorino cheese before adding salt) and more wine.
The wine tasting experience was in another room apart from the festival center for a group of about 40 people.
The sommelier started with an introduction of Piedmont and the wines before we tasted three Barolo wines- Rocche, Cannubi, Gabutti, all 2014. We then tasted each wine one by one with the tasting grid for sight, smell, and taste. Each varied greatly since the three come from different regions within Barolo, the unique soils giving each its own characteristics.
After the tasting, we returned back to the festival tent to learn more about white truffles. If let’s say we were to buy one, what is the shelf life? How do you store it? How do you pick one?
Once you buy a white truffle, the clock begins for it to be used within seven days, less if you do not get a good truffle. Storage is preferable in a glass container wrapped in a paper towel in the refrigerator. Picking the right one was more difficult information to extract from the truffle hunters than I wanted, but to be fair, they had been at the far for twelve hours at that point packing up.
So (with our bad internet), I did some research on my own.
- Do not go by the shape, go by the smell- you want a strong smell since that is what you are buying the truffle for- the aroma
- Do not be bothered by holes- holes mean that snails made homes and they love the best truffles!
- Make sure the truffle is firm- not too firm but not soft, soft means it is old
- Make sure the dirt is rubbed off- adds to the weight of the truffle and that means more money
Now you can buy a white truffle!
After much deliberation, we decided to purchase a white truffle to recreate our meals when we were home. I was more confident than before in the “how to buy a white truffle” rules so we walked in just after festival open at 9:30AM to find most of the truffle hunters still setting up.
I surveyed a few that were ready to go and decided on one I liked. But then I smelled it and it wasn’t as pungent as I wanted- everyone said to get one with a really strong smell. The hunter showed me another one that was similar size and it definitely had the smell we were looking for. It was firm and should last us a week. Wrapped it up and took home our white gold. Fingers crossed this works!
(UPDATE: We used the truffle on Friday and it was great!!! I bought this truffle shaver and with a lot of butter successfully recreated our favorite meal!)