You walk into the room, through the door you immediately enter the dinning room. The space is modestly decorated with some books and paintings, it looks like the home of an artist and cook. Cesare is an artist, he still paints his life, animals, and interpretations of life in the Langhe.
Years ago Cesare said “come with me” and we were off into the winding roads of the Langhe. In his car the roads felt as if they were winding more than they were. We felt as if we were up high, the view immense. He sped off down the hillside to his friend, a writer that lived in Langhe. We spent most of the afternoon driving from friend to friend and in between we stopped at the homes of locals who were selling truffles. In the Langhe you own a sense of your own freedom, it is a place that people either love or hate. The climate is either gorgeous or dull, and the fog can make life difficult but the white truffles, the people and the passion makes it all worthwhile.
At the time, I didn’t understand how truffles were purchased. 17 years ago there wasn’t the level of international business there is today. Then it was much more difficult to find direct sources unless you knew where to go and who to call. These days you walk in the town of Alba and visit the local vendors selling truffles. They have all kinds of truffles on display and you can pick and choose. You can find plenty but one problem, many truffles are not from Piemonte. Some would say, that is awful while others understand that demand and supply are not easily met. Truffles are seasonal and everyone fantasizes to eat white truffles. Eventually there are not enough to go around and unless you have the right connections, trusted people like Filippo or his Dad.
The table is set, we are anxious to begin but first the traditional glass of bubbles is served. Luckily Filippo is here tonight or the service and hospitality is not the same. Sitting on the table is our truffle, it has been cleaned and is ready to be tasted. Under a glass dome the aromas are contained, the mandolin is set to the side and ready for slicing. I am in charge of the truffle, I always maintain “if you touch it, you pay it”, truffles are easy to shave but it takes some experience.