Culinary Traditions and Truffles
It would be impossible to mention all the area's traditional courses here, so rich is the cuisine of the Langhe, Monferrato and Roero, even in its simplicity, coming directly by the farmhouse.
Almost everyone who has opened a restaurant in the hills or in the towns of Alba, Bra and Asti - after having left their family homesteads - brought their mothers or grandmothers in their kitchen to prepare the recipes passed down through the generations, even with those crucial little culinary secrets that make each course unique.
It 's a cuisine born from modest economic conditions in past centuries, with recipes still maintaining all ingredients and natural elements of local origin.
There is also a series of recipes which have more aristocratic and middle-class origins, but which nonetheless were influenced by rural cooking. In the area neat trattorias alternate to elegant restaurants.
All of them have one thing in common, however: to present good food accompanied by excellent wines.
The white truffle, whose scientific name is "tuber magnatum pico", is a hypogeous fungus belonging to the ascomycetes family.
The truffle develops underground in symbiosis with trees, particularly oak, willow, linden and poplar. According to the type of tree, it develops an affinity and can have variations in its delicacy, intensity of aroma and color.
Every truffle lover knows exactly the best places for this precious fungus to grow up; hence the aura of secrecy surrounding the search, open from 15th September to 31st January of the following year.
The tuber magnatum Pico reaches its highest quality in late Autumn.
Truffle markets also follow a peculiar ritual: truffles are shown with caution, and only after a direct contact is it possible to purchase.
They are eaten fresh and their flavor is best highlighted by simple hot courses, such as fondues, risottos, tajarin and eggs. A wise and creative restaurant owner will be able to recommend other excellent combinations.
The white truffle can be preserved between 5 and 10 days, depending on the season. The more fresh, the more fragrant.