1. Truffes Henras

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There truffle has been appreciated, sought after and tasted since ancient times, by the Greeks as well as the Romans. In ancient Greece, love potions could contain truffles. According to mythology, this mushroom was created by several gods: Zeus (King of the gods), Hephaestus (God of fire and blacksmiths), Dionysus (God of wine and celebrations) and Aphrodite (Goddess of love and beauty). Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, better known as Juvenal, a 1st century Latin poet, mentions, in his 5th satire, the truffles served at the tables of the Roman nobility. The writers Pliny the Elder and Plutarch also mention the truffle, which would be a tumor generated by the Earth or which would form at the foot of trees, following the action of thunder.


It was not until the Renaissance that the variety " Tuber Magnatum Pico " was distinguished. It was the doctor Vittorio Pico who gave it this name, in reference to the noble people of high society.

In the 19th century, the Piedmontese truffle was given pride of place in the famous recipe for “ Tournedos Rossini ”. The idea for this dish is said to be attributed to the famous Italian composer, Gioacchino Rossini. He named this variety of truffle the “Mozart of mushrooms”.


In 1928, during the wine fair in Alba, a town located in Italian Piedmont, Giacomo Morra organized an exhibition on the white truffle . The immediate success led Mr. Morra to create a fair dedicated to this white mushroom. First local, it became national in the early 60s and then international in the late 90s. This Alba fair (Fiera del tarfuffo blanco) has become the world-renowned market for the purchase of local truffles or Tuber magnatum Pico . She made the truffle all the more famous when the largest specimen was offered to a renowned guest. Thus, politicians, actresses or filmmakers, such as Winston Churchill, Marylin Monroe and Alfred Hitchcock had this privilege.



The Tuber magnatum Pico truffle is exclusively wild. It likes particularly humid land, next to streams, and grows near trees such as willows or poplars. These species have, in fact, the particularity of also appreciating land that retains rainwater or that is located near springs, streams, etc. The White Truffle is harvested mainly around the town of Alba, in the Langhe, in the northwest of Italy, in Piedmont. It is also found, in a more limited way, in the north, in Lombardy, in Veneto, in Emilia-Romagna as well as in the center, in Umbria, in Tuscany, in Marche and Abruzzo.

Every year, during the Alba Truffle Fair, the harvested mushrooms are offered to buyers from all over the world. In order to ensure their authenticity, they are certified, after analysis, by experts from the National Center for Truffle Studies. To close this fair, a world auction takes place, accessible only by invitation. It is organized at the Château de Grinzane, a few kilometers from Alba, in the Salle des Masques. Gourmets from all continents take part, in person or via satellite links. The price of the most expensive specimens can exceed 100,000 euros.


    The Alba truffle harvest period lasts approximately from September to December. The official opening date of the season is decided by the municipality of Alba and the Association of truffle growers. However, the white truffle can only be marketed from October. Despite the craze for this mushroom, production has been in constant decline since the middle of the 20th century. Two main reasons explain this decline. First, the surface area of ​​truffle land tends to shrink because they are coveted for other uses: the planting of hazelnut trees and vines. Thus, in 25 years, 33% of truffle forests have disappeared. Then, the climatic conditions are no longer as favorable as before because the rainfall decreases. Consequently, the production has drastically decreased, making this mushroom even more rare and coveted.


    Only the very keen sense of smell of an animal is able to detect the presence of a truffle buried in the ground. Cavage, that is to say the harvesting of truffles, is therefore generally carried out with a dog, and rather at night. Animals are trained from an early age to recognize this specific smell. Their toys, but also their mother's teats, are coated with truffle oil. In the Alba region, there is even a school dedicated to training truffle dogs. All breeds can be trained to seek out the white fungus, based on so-called positive reinforcement methods. Well trained, a dog can detect truffles that have reached the required degree of maturity. He will then start scratching the ground until he reaches the mushroom. His master then takes over so that the truffle is not damaged. He pulls her out of the ground and rewards his dog. In Italy, winemakers are required to purchase a specific permit from the town hall of their municipality of residence.


    The quality Alba truffle is recognizable by its fine, smooth, sometimes velvety skin whose light yellow color can tend towards ocher, pinkish white or even grey. This color depends on the species of tree at the foot of which it developed. Its gleba (its flesh), traversed by multiple white veins, is in creamy white tones that can go as far as deep pink. It must be firm because softening indicates that the optimal maturity for tasting has been exceeded. Its size varies greatly: the smallest are like walnuts while the medium ones are the size of an apple. Its average weight is between 30 and 50 grams but it can, exceptionally, exceed one kilogram. The smell of white truffles, frank and tenacious, can contain notes of honey, lime blossom or hay. This very aromatic scent surpasses that of other truffles. When ripe, it contains alliaceous olfactory components. Its aromas are a subtle alliance of lightness and elegance.




The white truffle can be offered brushed or not. In this case, it is cleaned when using it. To do this, simply pass it under running cold water and brush it with a soft cloth.

Alexandre Dumas, in his "Grand Dictionnaire de la cuisine", compared the truffle to the "holy of holies" of gourmets. He even noted that some gourmets “prefer it to our black truffles from France” and “that it doesn't need to be cooked”. In particular, he suggests, as a recipe idea, heating oil with anchovy fillets then adding the truffles by sautéing them out of the heat.

"As for Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, in the "Physiology of Taste", he praises this mushroom so popular in his time.

The Alba truffle can only be eaten raw, cut into thin slices or grated into shavings. Plain, it is eaten in the form of strips delicately placed on slices of buttered bread or on toast. Grated, it is used to enhance risotto, polenta, gnocchi, scrambled eggs or a pasta dish, such as the traditional Piedmontese taglioni, in the shape of thin ribbons. The Tuber Magnatum goes harmoniously with vegetable fondues, beef carpaccios, foie gras, porcini mushrooms and scallops.

The white truffle of Alba is the star ingredient of the famous “Tournedos Rossini” recipe which combines a tasty tournedos with fresh foie gras and a white wine sauce. Some chefs use it to create original desserts such as the Black éclair, by Christophe Adam, rich in 75% Cuban dark chocolate, or even the truffle macaroon by Pierre Hermé. This truffle is also used to prepare sabayons, ice creams or rice pudding.

- What does white truffle taste like?

The white truffle has allium flavors, a powerful, characteristic and refined aroma.

- Where do white truffles grow?

Most white truffles for in the Alba region in Piedmont in Italy. On the other hand, the white truffle is a wild truffle, it is impossible to cultivate it.

- When to pick white truffles?

The period for picking the white truffle is the same as that of the black truffle. The season starts in November and ends in March.

- What is the price per kilo of white truffles?

The white truffle does not escape a very variable price rule depending on the season. On the other hand, it is the most expensive truffle in the world. It cannot be found below 3000 euros per kilo minimum. Generally this amount increases up to 6000 euros.

- Where to buy quality white truffles

There are several merchants that offer white truffles. To validate the quality of the truffle, you must first check its variety, which must be the tuber magantum pico. It is also possible to buy white truffles directly in the Alba region.

- What is the difference between white and black truffles?

The white truffle and the black truffle have only the name in common. Indeed one has an alliaceae taste and the other has notes of undergrowth and musk. The cost of white truffle is much higher than that of black truffle and their external appearance also differs. The black truffle has a black exterior reminiscent of a diamond and a black flesh veined with white. The tuber magnatum pico has an ocher and much smoother exterior appearance and its gleba is also very clear and veined with white. What brings these two truffles together is that they are two exceptional dishes.


What does white truffle taste like?

Given its prestige due to its immense rarity, the white truffle has a taste that can recall some of our foods. Indeed, its powerful, characteristic and refined flavor can recall the aromas of garlic, shallot or even pepper. According to truffle experts, the taste of Tuber Magnatum Pico is incomparable compared to that of its sisters.

Where do white truffles grow?

The Alba white truffle grows mainly in the northwest of Italy, in the Langhe, around the town of Alba, in the wild because it is still impossible to cultivate it. However, we can also find it, in a more limited way, in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna or even in Tuscany. This variety of truffle likes particularly humid soils, close to waterways, at the foot of willows, poplars or lime trees.

When to collect white truffles?

The harvest period for the white truffle is approximately the same as that of the Tuber Melanosporum, extending approximately between September and January. However, the official opening date of the season is decided by the Municipality of Alba in collaboration with the Association of Truffle Growers. Additionally, although the harvest can begin in September, the Alba truffle can only be put on sale from October.

What is the price per kilo of white truffle?

Tuber Magnatum Pico , like all other truffles, has a price that fluctuates enormously depending on different factors such as quantity or demand. However, the Alba white truffle is the most expensive and prestigious truffle in the world, with a generally minimum price of 3000 euros per kilo. It is not uncommon for this amount to increase up to 6000 euros. During the Alba Truffle Fair, a global auction takes place, accessible only by invitation, where some specimens of white truffles can exceed 100,000 euros.

Where to buy quality white truffles?

White truffles can be purchased from breeders offering Alba truffles, such as Maison Henras. To be sure that it is a quality truffle , it is essential to always check its variety, in fact, the latter must absolutely be Tuber Magnatum Pico. Finally, if you are passing through Italy and more particularly in Piedmont, you will be able to buy some directly in the Alba region.

What is the difference between white and black truffles?

The white truffle and the black truffle only have the name truffle in common. One of the major distinctions between these two varieties lies in their use: the black truffle will retain its flavor during delicate cooking, while the white truffle will lose it. In addition, they are differentiated by their unique taste qualities, the Alba truffle being renowned for its characteristic alloyed taste, while the Tuber Melanosporum exudes notes of undergrowth and musk. Finally, their visual appearance also differs: the black truffle has a black and grainy skin, with black flesh decorated with white veins, on the contrary, the Tuber Magnatum Pico has a relatively smooth ocher surface and very light flesh marbled with white.