For years, I’d wanted to witness a truffle hunt, but we never seemed to be in the right place during the right season. Just as our wine-tasting was wrapping up, our guide, Marco ended a call on his mobile phone, and grinned. “I have a surprise for you,” he said. “We’re going to meet a truffle hunter and his dog!” On the way to the hunter’s home, past tractors and people harvesting hazelnuts and putting them into overflowing sacks, Marco gave us an overview of truffles. “There are black truffles and there are white ones,” Marco said. The white truffles are more valuable than the black ones, and only grow within a small window of time each autumn. They cannot be cultivated. The black truffles grow during the rest of the year.” While it is prized internationally, the white truffle is very selective about where in the world it crops up. Most of these fantastic fungi are only found in the countryside around the Monferrato and Langhe area, while a smaller number are harvested in Tuscany, France, Slovenia, and Croatia.
White truffles, it turns out, are more delicate than their black truffle cousins. Whereas the black truffles can be cooked, even added to sauces or oil, the white ones should only be cleaned and brushed. The white truffles are best enjoyed on simple dishes such as pasta, with sage and butter.
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