A village of Truffles and Hazelnuts

No, please don't kill (or troll) us yet for calling Alba a village. It is a town, proper, really. But we just love using the word 'village' to describe a place with much affection, and also because you can walk from end to end of the village, ahem, town, in about 20 minutes leisurely.

For a place this small, it sure is prolific though. Well-known around the world for its glorious white truffles and hazelnuts, Alba is one of the big pillars that makes up the Italian food export industry. The tasty hazelnuts gave rise to of course, Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, and the truffles have set the benchmark with its annual Truffle Cup championship that runs concurrently with the White Truffle Market in November.

Truffle lover or not, the market is really quite a learning experience especially if you take an interest in small agricultural development and social tourism. A big part of the market is dedicated to stands by individual truffle hunters who have come to peddle off their precious finds for the season. Truffle hunting is regulated in Italy and only these licensed truffle hunters (with their dogs, not pigs!) are allowed to set about on their adventures into the forest to bring us the yummy goodies. The price range for the coveted white truffles is somewhere between 400 to 600 euros a kilo while the summer black truffles start from about 60 euros a kilo depending on the size and type.

Apart from the main fair set in the Museum of Alba, the local farmers and businesses have turned the whole town into one big festival space with produce and goodies from the Langhe region (in which Alba is situated) and it was a tasty affair as we got samples of chocolates, sauces and fruits. If you are big red wine lover, this is the perfect region as it is home to some of the most prolific reds; Dolcetto, Barolo, Nebbiolo while the Arneis is the main star for white wines. For the bubbly drinkers, don't miss out on Contratto - a very old 'metodo classico' producer that is hard to find out of this region.

The fair runs annually until the end of November with the magnus white truffle as the season's star but Alba is a good drop-in all year long for different types of truffles and its many highly-rated restaurants and wine bars.

#truffle #alba #wine #cheese #italy

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