The 12th white truffle auction took place at the Grinzane Cavour castle with the white Alba truffles gaining over 307,000 euros in auction sales. The 13 truffles from Alba under the hammer were all sold with the best example going to a Hong Kong bidder for 105,000 euros. Another was bought by a local Piedmontese bidder for 100,000 euros. Other truffles were bought by Chinese wine expert Jeannie Cho Lee, and a Cuneo entrepreneur in the green energy business, Antonio Bertolotto.
The latter will donate his two truffles to Pope Benedict XVI and to Michele Ferrero of Ferrero company fame who has contributed much to Italy’s international image. The white truffle auction is becoming quite an event and Italy is enjoying some flashy touches, setting up real time connection with some of the world’s most renowned restaurants. And it’s certainly a curiosity for non afficionados who look on as bidders haggle over the diminutive fungi.
Via satellite connection there was the world famous 8 e ½ Italian restaurant in Hong Kong and some Italian celebrities came out for the occasion, including Enzo Iacchetti from the satirical Striscia la Notizia show. Guest of honour was Italian senate president Renato Schifani. The auction proceeds go to philanthropic and educational initiatives.
Source | Castellogrinzane.com
Italy’s most famous truffle might be the white truffle of Alba, in Piedmont, but it’s certainly not the only precious underground dweller the country has to offer. Undervalued both nationally in Italy, and on the international scale, is the black truffle of Salento, in the Lecce province, Puglia. And now, thanks to a BBC documentary, the humble Salento truffle might get the attention it deserves.
If you’re a truffle purist, you might think that it’s the white Alba truffle or nothing, but the black truffles of Salento are more economical and have their own special taste. With their own straightforward character (”sexy” according to the video!), they make the perfect marriage to some of the region’s local dishes. In particular, the BBC found itself in the area around the main town, where the country goes down to the San Cataldo sea.
If you’re interested in more on Salento truffles, check out the dedicated Salento Tartufi YouTube channel, especially for some breathtaking views of the wild country in this part of Puglia. It’s not pristine like Tuscany, but it certainly has its own untamed appeal. After the jump, see the BBC documentary.
If you’re looking for weekend deals for autumn in Italy, try going to some of the Italian food festivals on in Emilia Romagna in the month of November. The Wine Food Festival is on where you can try all sorts of traditional Italian produce, from chestnuts to balsamic vinegar, culatello cold cut meat, mushrooms and truffles.
The food festival involves the towns of Piacenza and Rimini, and everywhere in between, where you can also experience some of Italy’s most beautiful towns and medieval locations. Try hotel and agriturismo offers in Coriano for the olive festival, while Ferrara is hosting the Festa della zucca or pumpkin festival. The Emilia Romagna truffle festival is on in Mondaino, or treat yourself in Compiano with banquets and health spa retreats.
The white truffle auction held in Langa, Piedmont on the weeked, saw a 750 gram white truffle sell for a record of 100,000 euros. It was the last of 11 truffle lots on auction, with the event seeing more than 250,000 euros of truffles sold.
The market price for truffles is equally high at the moment, with 100 grams costing 250 euros, meaning a simple grating of truffle at the restaurant could cost you 20 euros, excluding the rest of the dish. Prices are still down on previous weeks, at 350 euros, and last year’s average of 500 euros.
It’s early truffle season yet, with October truffles of a lower quality and shorter preservation time than their November and December truffle counterparts. Most of Italy’s food festivals with the truffle as focus occur in early November, and Alba’s famous white truffle festival concluded yesterday with this auction. The truffle was purchased by a Hong Kong restaurant owner.
Source | Il Sole 24 Ore
From 9 to 11 October 2009 at Colliano in the beautiful but often underrated province of Salerno took place an important exhibition market devoted to truffles; a three-day event during which visitors could not only buy truffles (which are a true gourmet treasure) from the stalls but also enjoy a break from the city by taking part in a series of concerts or by having a guided tour of the Sele Valley. Antonella Lettieri, mayor of Colliano told reporters that this festival is also crucial in helping to promote other important local products such extra virgin olive oil, salami, honey and cheese.
The Italian truffle festival at Sant-Angelo in Vado (Pesaro) has encountered an unusual problem this year, in the form of champion sports star Valentino Rossi. The truffle festival has reached its 46th edition, and the logo of this year’s festival features the number “46″ written in yellow.
The only problem is that the number is also Valentino Rossi’s race number, and the festival organisers were warned against using it in the festival logo. Correspondence between the legal studio of Podrini and Benedetti, who are charged with protecting the Rossi brand, suggests that legal action requiring compensation has been undertaken.
The local mayor is absolutely stupified, as you can imagine. Settimio Bravi says: “I’m very upset by this behaviour. We haven’t copied anyone. We are celebrating 46 years of the festival and I therefore have to use that number. I couldn’t write ‘45 + 1′ or ‘47 - 1′. Otherwise it will be thought that Valentino Rossi has bought the number 46 the world over and no-one can use it.” He continues:
It appears one businessman in Italy has had a nasty surprise on asking for the bill after a dinner with five friends at the prestigious Cracco Peck restaurant in Milan. The credit crunch is clearly not being felt at the restaurant, in via Victor Hugo near Milan’s Duomo, on presenting a bill of 4,140 euros for a dinner based on truffles.
The incredulous customer asked if there was a mistake but was assured there was not, a fact confirmed by the restaurant owner. Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reports that the chef’s response was:
“Civilised people pay for what they buy, but this gentleman didn’t pay and has been reported. It doesn’t make sense to ask me about the price - it’s not my problem. There are people who can spend 7,000 euros for a bottle of good wine, and people who spend 1,000 euros for a mobile phone. Mine is one of the greatest restaurants in Italy.”
Which it would have to be, at that price.
Photo | Flickr
Italy’s white truffles are not only a precious gastronomic delicacy here, but have also been used as the protagonists in charity events, this time with a 1.1kg truffle going to auction in the luxury seven-star hotel “Gran Lisboa” in Macau.
The base price has been fixed at 50,000 euros with proceeds going to Telethon. The truffle was donated by the “Funghi e Tartufi” company from Frosolone. The truffle comes from Molise, which has been a rich provider of record truffles.
While on the subject of Piedmont, if you’re a food buff and love traditional, fresh produce, Italy has everything you could possibly want. Italy is a mecca for food lovers, and the Piedmont town of Alba, in the Langhe region, is currently celebrating its famous white truffle festival.
The white truffle is a gourmet treasure in Italy, and it’s quite possibly a good year for truffles. The grape harvest has suffered a little due to heavy rains early in the season, and so while the 2008 vintage might not be crash hot, it’s definitely a mushroom year.
The Fiera del Tartufo is held every year in Alba and includes a truffle market, competition, photographic exhibition and a truffle auction with proceeds going to charity.
The truffle of the year prize will be awarded on November 15, though the festival itself finishes on November 9. For more information on the truffle festival, go to the Fiera del Tartufo site (in English).
Source | Fiera del Tartufo
Photo | Flickr
While autumn in Italy is not the greatest season in some northern areas, until it snows and it’s time for skiing, it can be a fantastic time to get to know the local products. Autumn often marks wine tasting in Italy and culinary tours, before the winter sports season begins.
In the Valtellina on the weekend, a cow festival took place at Chiareggio in the Valmalenco. Officially called the Festa dell’Alpeggio, the festival marks the return of beasts and their carers to the town areas and stables after spending summer at high altitudes. The festival involves adorning the cows with floral garlands (for photos see Flickr), with the best winning a prize, and taste testing local cheeses and milk, with lunch served by some of the local restaurants.
Other fall events in Italy include the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia - this is a not-to-be-missed festival of Baci Perugina, and other Italian chocolate goodies. It starts in October. There are also plenty of truffle festivals, perhaps the most famous being the white truffle festival, or Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco, in Piemonte.
I’ll be attending our yearly “castagnata” with friends in October, which is our chestnut roasting party. For more tips go to Go Italy, and watch this space for more news and photos on events and autumn festivals in Italy.
Photo | Flickr