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'White gold' in high demand this season, cheaper in Asia

Economic woes have not lessoned the demand for the swine sniffing white truffles from Alba, Italy as well as parts of Croatia and France. The 'white gold' peak season begins at the end of October with an expected price tag of €4,300 per kilogram.

According to Singapore's news source The Sunday Times, "White truffles are cheaper this year, by as much as 40 per cent compared to last year's peak prices."

Chefs in Singapore including Luca Pezzera of Bonta have declared 2010 a very good year for white truffles and not just in price.

On September 26, he added, "although it is only the beginning of the season, to have white truffles of this quality is already very good," and Michele Pavanello of Otto Ristorante, noted "The first batch is not always the best and I usually wait till later in the season. But it usually means it will be a good season when you see truffles this early - the weather has been kind this year."

Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio told Josh Ozersky, a James Beard Award-winning food writer, on October 20 , "I love all the mushrooms that I cook with but white truffles are something completely different. There's nothing else like them."

That is precisely why the price remains high, especially if you aren't enjoying benefits of a weaker Euro, as the mushrooms can not be mass-produced or grown in hot house like their fellow black truffles plus climate change is complicating the collection process.

John Magazino of the top truffle supplier Primizie Fine Foods told Ozersky, "...the global appetite for white truffles, especially the ones from around Alba, Italy, has utterly outstripped the harvest. From Macau to Dubai to Chicago, there are never enough to go around."

Primizie Fine Foods sells white truffles online in the US for $195/oz or $390/2oz.

WhiteTruffleAuction.com, the world's first online auction for truffles, has not presented any lots for 2010 yet but in 2009 bidding across the UK and EU ended at £750/€844 for 0.335kg.

If you like to take part in the hunt for white gold, here is a list of upcoming Italian festivals in Asti (AT), Cuneo (CN) and Alessandria (AL) adapted from the blog Stresa Sights:

Oct 24
Moncalvo (AT)
Oct 31
Moncalvo (AT)
Incisa Scapaccino (AT)
Trisobbio (AL)
Brignano Frascata (AL)
Sardigliano (AL)
Bene Vagienna (CN) Mondovi - Peccati di Gola
Nov 7
Montechiaro (AT)
Nizza Monferrato (AT) del Barbera & Cardo Gobbo
San Damiano d'Asti(AT)
Cella Monte (AL)
Avolasca (AL)
Serralunga di Crea (AL)
Nov 13
Tortona (AL)
Nov 14
Canelli (AT)
Costigliole d'Asti (AT)
Alessandria (AL)
Fiera di San Baudilino; Avolasca (AL)
Paroldo (CN) Fiera dell'Alta Langhe e del Cebano
Murisengo (AL) Fiera Trifola d'Or
Nov 21
Asti (AT) Cucina e Cantina
San Sebastiano Curone (AL)
Murisengo (AL) Fiera Trifola d'Or
Nov 27
Tortona (AL)
Nov 28
Castelnuovo Don Bosco (AT)
Casale Monferrato (AL) Fiera Crumini
Acqui Terme (AL) Montegrosso d'Asti
Ottiglio (AL)
Vezza d'Alba (CN) Dei vini Roero
Villafranca d'Asti (AT)
Dec 5
Cortazzone (AT)
Santo Stephano Belbo (CN)