They’re impossible to find without help from a dog. They look like gnarly knobs of dirt but are treasures worth their weight in gold. The treasure is the famed tartufo bianco di San Giovanni d’Asso, the white truffle of the Siena Crete region from the town of San Giovanni d’Asso, just north of Pienza. It was October and we were conducting a culinary tour in Tuscany; what better way to spend a morning than hunting for truffles in the woods!
In Tuscany, there are several varieties of truffles, including some that are inedible, but the two most important truffles are the black summer truffle, found in the late spring through the summer, and the white truffle of the Crete Senese, found from early fall till the end of the year.
Our friend and professional truffle hunter, Paolo, lives with his two dogs in the heart of the Siena Crete region where they hunt one of the most prized truffles, the tartufo bianco, or white truffle, of San Giovanni d’Asso. We’ve found the black summer truffle before, with Daniele, of Cinta Senese pig farm fame, and his black and white short haired pointer, Ombra. The forest around Daniele’s house is rich with black truffles and on any given early summer day, Ombra turns up a few. They’re very delicately flavored and neither as highly prized nor as expensive as the autumn black truffle of Umbria. If fact, Tuscans are fond of saying “Ma, sa di niente.” They have no flavor.
But the most important truffle found in Tuscany is the rare and expensive white truffle. Found only in Alba in Piedmont, San Miniato in Tuscany, and San Giovanni d’Asso in the Siena province, the white truffle is the most prized both because of its intense perfume and strong flavor. A few shavings of white truffle on a plate of fresh tagliolini is strong enough to perfume an entire restaurant. Url: http://www.attheitaliantable.com/?tag=san-giovanni-dasso