Autumn is all about wine and truffle harvest. It is the perfect season for hunting one of the most valued delicacies in the world, truffles. It starts in September and lasts until December, with October and November being pick time.
Most truffle hunting experts start at dawn and find specially-trained dogs to be the best of companions for this activity. The use of truffle hogs dates back to ancient times, but they have a particular weakness for the scent and taste of fresh truffles, eating them as soon as they find them.
Truffles are very sensitive to both heat and frost, making them hard to cultivate. Naturally they grow at the roots of oak, hazelnut and other trees such as pine, birch or poplar. Fine white truffles are rarer, thus more valued on the market, followed by black truffles.
Fresh truffles may be hard to find but they are easy to cook with. Top fried eggs with a few fine slices of truffle for a Tuscan speciality. Grate them onto salads, pasta, soup, or in an omelette. Pair them with cream and cheese in a sauce. Add them as that extra ingredient in the baked potatoes filling. Slice them over fried fish, grilled tuna or salmon fillet or just prepare a black truffle risotto or angel hair pasta with small truffle shavings. Delicious!
Here are some of the best regions where you should be this season, indulging in new culinary experiences and wine tastings, as well as going truffle hunting and attending fairs.
Many regions in Italy hide exceptional truffles. Tuscany’s Chianti and San Miniato hills or Umbria’s Upper Tiber Valley and Gubbio are just some of them. Fiera Internazionale del tartufo bianco d'Alba is one of the best white truffle fairs. It takes place in Alba, Piedmont 12 October - 17 November.
This year is also the 59th edition of the Fiera del Tartufo in Moncalvo 20 - 27 October. Don’t miss the San Miniato White Truffle Fair during the last three weekends of November in the medieval town of San Miniato, Tuscany.
Truffles, food, crafts and a lot of entertainment. Umbria holds its own celebrations with the trade fair Mostra del Tartufo e della Patata Bianca in Pietralunga 11 - 13, 20, 27 October.
Tuber Melanosporum is known as the Perigord truffle, named after the French Perigord region, which is historically famous for truffles. The truffle market of the area is in Sarlat-la-Canéda. It opens the first Saturday of December and ends in February. Try some local Bergerac wine too!
Provence is situated in the southeast of France which accounts for 70% of French truffles. Two of the main truffle markets to visit are Richerence 15 November - 28 February and Carpentras 15 November - 14 March. Read more about our experience at the Maison de Truffe et du Vin in Ménerbes, a restaurant and museum dedicated to truffles!
One may not think of England as the best place to go looking for that magic truffle experience. However, the uncinatum truffles are harvested here October to December. Add the Cheese and Wine Festival at Southbank Centre Square on 11 - 13 October and the trip is ‘worth the truffle!’
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