A truffle lunch for a family of four traveling to Alba? It costs almost as much as a month of average citizenship income: around 500 euros. The accounts are soon made, but it is necessary to go into details to explain how to arrive at this figure which is not exactly within the reach of all budgets.
So let’s imagine that a family with two children who have become teenagers (from 12 years old, because below this age you can still hope for a children’s menu or a dish to be divided into two) decides to spend Sunday in the capital of the Langhe, which has just inaugurated the 92nd edition of the International White Truffle Fair, it is the most valuable and valuable underground mushroom that is missing this year due to prolonged drought. They strolled through the city, toured the stalls selling typical products and visited the trifolao market, the hunters of the precious nuggets.
For lunch, they haven’t booked into one of the many elegant starred restaurants that light up the hills of Alba, but neither into a “tourist trap” that promises improbable truffle dishes for 15 euros. They know that tuber magnatum pico is a hard-to-find excellence and that at this miserly start to the season, prices to take one home are hovering around 550-600 euros per hectogram. They therefore opted for a traditional tavern with a solid reputation, which gives nothing but does not even play tricks. In a city where GDP is largely based on food and wine, there are at least five or six, in Langa and Roero you can find dozens.
Alba white truffle, prices are soaring: it starts at 600 euros per hectogram
by Roberto Fiori
Our family’s choice fell onOsteria dell’Arcoin a small courtyard in Piazza Michele Ferrero, bulwark of local cuisine and historical landmark of the Slow Food galaxy with Maurizio Dellapiana between stoves. Not at all naive, our tourists know that with the white truffle you don’t need sophisticated dishes, but simple recipes that leave the field open to the aromas and flavors of the main ingredient. So the four of them order two traditional dishes, a starter and a starter, enriched with the famous “grattata”: the egg in a casserole and the “40 yolks” tajarin with alpine butter. The first course, including the truffle, costs 50 euros each, the second 55 euros. Total for four people: 420 euros. If, on the contrary, they had chosen a dish not on the menu, but with in addition a “grattata” on the table (10 grams, supplemented by a goldsmith’s sling to certify the quantity), the truffle alone would have cost 60 euros.
“But it must be said that we have a very honest policy on price increases, even in a difficult year like this. – explains Dellapiana -. There are places that charge 7 euros per gram for the truffle: we try not to forget where we come from and that, as precious as it is, the trifola remains a spontaneous product of our lands”.
But let’s continue with lunch. Who in Alba would taste these delicacies without accompanying them with a glass of wine? So, let’s bring a good bottle to the table, stopping a little before arriving at the incomparable Barolo and Barbaresco which thicken the last pages of the wine list: we choose a Langhe Nebbiolo at 35 euros and the bill rises to 455 euros . Our family also orders four desserts, divided between tiramisu, panna cotta, bunet and hazelnut tart: another 30 euros. For the cover, 6 euros are added, for two bottles of water and four coffees, an additional 10 euros. The final bill is 501 euros, but it can easily climb to 600 euros if you are looking for the best labels or if two dishes and a dessert are not enough to satisfy the appetite, especially that of teenagers.
If it’s shopping, does the restaurant stay empty? “Not at all, we don’t have a vacancy for weeks – Dellapiana assures -. Our customers looking for tuber magnatum pico are ready to face an average cost of around 130 euros per person”. Thus, at the end of the Sunday lunch service, more than a kilo of white truffles were consumed at Osteria dell’Arco. “And it’s not even the best day, because there are so many people on Sundays, but with less purchasing power. On Saturdays, we work better, with customers long-timers who come from Milan and half of Italy. And on Mondays or on weekdays even better, because these are the favorite days of many foreign tourists”. So, no crisis? “For the moment, absolutely not – concludes the chef -. We were all afraid of a contraction, but it seems that people do not yet have their bills in mind. We will see what will happen this winter”.