The magnificent white truffle is a treasure in the cuisine of Piemonte. With an earthy, garlicky aroma and distinct flavor, tourists everywhere are come to this region in search of these little (and sometimes quite large) treasures.

A trifulauĀ is a professional truffle hunter who roams the hills around Alba from August to January, gathering the highly prized and pricey white truffles.

Truffles are subterranean, edible ascomycetous fungi of the genus Tuber. They’re found anywhere from 2 to 15 inches underground, usually in a circular formation about 4 to 5 feet from the base of an oak tree.

For centuries, truffles were believed to have grown anywhere lightening struck. Greeks and Romans considered it an aphrodisiac and Emperor Charles V was said to have enjoyed one during an unforgettable dinner dating back to Alba in 1537.

White truffles are best when served sliced thinly or shaved over pasta or cheese dishes, such as Babbo’s Pappardelle with Butter, Parmesan and White Truffles. The secret to cooking with truffles is not to pair their flavors with other strong flavors.

When purchasing truffles, be sure to choose firm, well-shaped and unblemished truffles. In order to maximize their flavor potential, try using them as soon as possible. Available from late fall to mid-winter, these milder flavored truffles need not be peeled before using. Buon Appetito!