Truffle hunting and cooking lessons with a chef: a visit to Tartuflanghe


Truffle hunting and cooking lessons with a chef: a visit to Tartuflanghe

04 December 2019

Their fresh truffles reach the most renowned chefs in the world in just a couple of hours. Using truffle, they have commercialized the first pasta on the market and they have created a line of high gastronomy. They have dried it and produced its juice. Lastly, they have invented truffle “caviar”.

In a land of hills cultivated with grapevines, only the most remote corners are left to the woods. This is where the Alba white truffle grows, hidden among the roots of a few varieties of trees. Tartuflanghe has revealed its secrets to enthusiasts for the past 20 years. Truffle aficionados are accompanied in the experimental truffle grounds where this precious tuber is grown. Truffle hunting experiences together with a trifulao and a dog are organized. And lastly, the doors to its laboratory – where truffles are transformed and cooked – are opened. Or tourists can try and cook it, aided by a chef who teaches them how to prepare some local recipes. In the factory in Piobesi, truffles are selected and the specialties are prepared: the entire course of the “king” of the Langa cuisine is covered. We have talked with Paolo Montanaro, CEO of Tartuflanghe. He works with 35 associates; the company has a revenue of 13 million euros, it exports in 34 countries and during truffle season, it handles 500 kilograms of truffles a week.

With prices that may exceed 5,000 euros/kg and a fair which brings six hundred thousand visitors to Alba off-season, is the Langhe’s treasure wine or truffle?

Paolo and Beppe Montanaro Paolo Montanaro with his father, Beppe

With the increase of lands cultivated with grapevines and the boom of Barolo, the numbers of truffles have declined since the ‘70s: a lot of forests have been turned into vineyards. But I believe that great wines and truffles go hand in hand. They are both our treasures, a boost for the local economy. After all, if those who visit us come to the Langhe to try truffle, they obviously expect to pair it with great wines

Is “truffle tourism” already a reality?

Truffle hunting together with a dog and a trifulao, in the truffle grounds of the company

We have been organizing truffle ground tours for 20 years. We have always arranged for truffle hunting with the dogs and the tour of the factory to closely observe truffle processing. We have three people dedicated to tourists and handle incoming. We guide tourists to one of our 15 truffle grounds, located between Roero, Langhe and Asti and we show them what we do. We have “cultivated” truffle grounds: here, we have started from scratch, choosing lands suited for truffle growing, clearing them and growing new plants. We also have natural truffle grounds: these are pre-existing forests which we take care of and where we apply agricultural techniques that aim to improve truffle habitat. For example, we practice pruning that induces the growth of new roots in plants; we also place truffle spores in the ground.

But you don’t only handle fresh truffles...

Tagliolini freschi appena prodotti, nel laboratorio artigianale Truffle tagliolini, a house specialty of Tartuflanghe

We have two product lines: one for the shops and the other reserved for chefs. We provide chefs with ingredients that give a certain touch to their dishes: the fresh truffle, obviously; but we also provide other elements. We have freeze-dried ingredients, natural cooking dyes made with fruits and vegetables, and many more. Truffle season lasts for only a few months. In order to preserve it, we use freeze-drying; or we practice the ancient technique of product sterilization. Through freeze-drying, we obtain the other ingredient we produce for cooking: truffle extract. We use it as a primary ingredient for our products, but we also sell it to chefs, who use it in their dishes.

You are one of the few companies that involve visitors throughout the whole truffle cycle: hunting, transformation, cooking and tasting.

The laboratory kitchen, used for tastings with visitors

The experience in Tartuflanghe requires an initial learning activity, during which we talk about truffles, revealing secrets and stories. Then, we visit the truffle ground and the production plant. We show the truffles gathered during the night and selected one by one. Furthermore, we show how the products are created in the laboratory, like handmade egg pasta, truffle-based sauces, and hazelnut pralines. We visit the kitchens, the pasta factory, the laboratories where truffles are selected and the chocolate atelier. We have a kitchen and a restaurant, where guided tastings of truffle and mushroom based specialties are done (Parmigiano Reggiano Truffle Cream, Creamed Cod, sauces, cheese with White Truffle Honey and Fig Compote in Balsamic Vinegar), paired with wines from our cellar, including the famous Barolo. We can also organize proper cooking activities, together with a chef who teaches how to prepare some traditional Piedmont recipes.

Tartuflanghe is the supplier of very famous chefs, who want the freshest truffles...

Tartufi pronti per la vendita, con letichetta aziendale The prized white truffles sold by Tartuflanghe (Piobesi, Piemonte)

Supply is a daily challenge: we work with chefs far away from this production area, who often call for emergency, needing immediate delivery. Generally, harvesting and delivery take 48-72 hours. We don’t preserve: what arrives is immediately sent out; truffles stay here just for cleaning and packaging preparation. We deliver all over Europe in 24 hours, and in 48 hours to the rest of the world. Just a couple of grams is needed to enhance a dish. Truffles are preferably eaten raw, cut into strips with a special truffle cutter. It goes best with “neutral” plates, which act as the base for its intense scent: knife-minced raw meat, fried eggs, plain tajarin, and fondue. But before eating it, you must discover it. Let those who perfectly know about truffles explain them to you. Savour it after finally revealing its secrets.
Request your custom truffle experience at Tartuflanghe with The Grand Wine Tour.