The head-turning, musky scent of truffles fills restaurants this time of year. Chances are, if you’re dining at local eateries that like to get liberal with these treasures, such as Renato’s or La Masseria, those truffles are coming from David Iannetta, aka the Truffle Guy. The Italian native grew up in the industry and imports the flavorful fungi from his hometown of Bojano, located in the mountains of Molise, one of the country’s top producing regions. In honor of truffle season, Iannetta shares need-to-know facts about these mysterious morsels.
- The subterranean fungi grow at the roots of a variety of trees—including oak, pine, and hazelnut—in a symbiotic relationship. Soft, well-irrigated soil encourages their growth.
The weather determines truffle availability. A robust bounty requires a rainy summer, and a drought could send prices soaring, which was the case two years ago when white truffles went for nearly $3,000 a pound.
- It takes months to train dogs to hunt for truffles, making them a target for competitors who may try to steal or poison them. Today, the curly haired Lagotto Romagnolo dogs are bred specifically to sniff out truffles.White truffles, in peak season from November through the first week of January, boast the most pungent flavor and are the priciest. Black winter truffles, peaking in January through March, are second in both price and flavor.
- What’s Iannetta’s favorite way to savor truffles? “On top of scrambled eggs with a little bit of truffle oil,” he says. “Or on top of risotto, filet mignon, or a porterhouse steak. And always with a good Barolo.”
Follow Iannetta’s adventures on Instagram @truffleguy.wpb