Musement takes a look at four of the best places to go truffle hunting this fall.
As the summer heat starts to wane and some of our favorite autumn harvest ingredients start popping up at the market, there is one ingredient that every Michelin starred chefs to eager restaurant patrons to adventurous home cooks can’t wait to have at their disposal: truffles!
These elegant tubers with pungent, earthy musky aroma liven up just about any dish. Now, there are two types: black and white. Black is the most common while the white are rarer and therefore pricier. White truffle is never cooked and the one most likely to be shaved over a pasta or risotto for a several-hundred-dollar supplement. The black always adds some oomph to various dishes and may enhance a pasta, risotto etc, like the white, but they may also be lightly cooked. You might place a couple atop a slow-cooked egg, stuffed inside a roasted chicken and even pureed with potatoes. The options are endless! And both can be integrated into a house-made truffle butter that you can pour over pasta, polenta, grilled meat and more.
However, there is one thing more thrilling than eating them: hunting for them. If you’ve never truffle-hunted before, you should. There’s something quite special about navigating the forests with dogs and watching as they uncover these jewels hidden in the earth. Here’s a look at four of the best truffle hunting places where you can do just that.
The age-old debate of Italy’s best food always puts the cuisines of Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna up against one another. As home to Barolo, aka “the king of wines and wine of kings”, it should come as no surprise that the forest’s finest jewel prospers in Piedmont’s soil. In addition, Alba is world-famous for its white truffles and hosts an annual white truffle festival from late October through late November. In Piedmont, go truffle hunting in Langhe, Alba, La Morra, Murisengo and Monferrato, all of which are easy day trips from Turin or some even from Milan.
Tuscany is beloved for its unmistakable rolling cypress-tree topped hills, breathtaking landscapes, fairytale-like hilltop towns and, among other things, its wine. So, it should come as no surprise that region with the terroir of Chianti, Bolgheri, Brunello and more teeming with truffles. Like Alba, San Miniato truffle hunting hosts an annual white truffle festival during select weekends in October and November. Here, you can sample all sorts of local gastronomic treasures, dine at restaurants featuring special truffle menus, and enjoy the festivities and entertainment. In Tuscany, go truffle hunting in San Miniato, Crete Senesi or Forcoli, all of which are easily reachable from Florence.
This land-locked region nestled between Lazio, Tuscany, Le Marche and Abruzzo is popular among pilgrims as its home to Assisi. but many also drop by to see Perugia, the storied hilltop town overlooking the Tiber. Honey, lentils, olive oil, Sagrantino and more all thrive here in Umbria’s lush soil. However, Umbria is optimal for truffle hunting and some of the region’s most beloved cities, such as Orvieto, Montefalco and Preci, make ideal starting points.
And, of course, truffles blossoming in the soil of Italy’s elegant neighbor, France, are just waiting to be discovered. Some of the most popular destinations are Périgord, near Bordeaux, one of the world’s most esteemed wine regions. True gastronomically minded travelers can double up by visiting Bordeaux to see the celebrated Médoc vines for themselves. Also, ideal for truffle hunting is Cohors, in the south near Toulouse, as well as beautiful Provence, a landscape easily recognizable from Cezanne’s palette. Here, visit Luberon, near Aix-en-Provence.