Every year, excited bidders gather at the International White Truffle Auction in Alba, Italy, for a chance to win one of the world’s priciest and most delectable edible funghi. The auction, which benefits scholarships and charitable organisations and institutions at national and international level, began in 1999 and has since grown into a phenomenon. Last year alone, one bidder from Hong Kong offered $120,000 for a two-pound white truffle—or Tuber Magnatum.
The auction is among the final events of the International Alba White Truffle Fair, which runs from October 11 to November 16. In addition to the truffle market, the festival also features a “mediaeval fair,” celebrity talks (by the likes of director Werner Herzog), a vintage car show, and of course, many talks and lecture sessions on the celebrated white truffle.
White truffles are particularly prized and expensive because they are incredibly rare. These prized gastronomic “prizes” make their one-time annual appearance in October and November, and must be foraged by dogs in the wild. (Black truffles, on the other hand, can be cultivated in a variety of climates and countries.) Even in a year when white truffles are more comparably plentiful, will still set buyers back roughly 220 euros ($280 U.S. dollars) per 100 grams.
This year, Celebrity Cruises was among the bidders at the Nov. 9 auction, with Executive Chef John Suley on hand to give a lecture and a cooking class to culinary students at the prestigious Slow Food University.
Suley successfully bid and acquired two elusive gems weighing a total of 700 grams.
“White truffles are the ultimate luxury, and Celebrity now has two of the rarest in the world,” said Chef Suley. “Sought after by Michelin-starred restaurants and connoisseurs, truffles generate excitement among all foodies – their flavor, aroma and rarity are so distinct – and they’re only available during a short period of time each year. They’re a product of nature that even technology can’t replicate.”
The prized truffles will be showcased at exclusive dining events unique to Celebrity and will also be used to create a truffle-based menu for a private dinner at the James Beard House in New York City on Nov. 24.
All Celebrity guests will have a chance to partake in truffle season, as our ships will feature truffle-themed menus or dishes in the onboard specialty restaurants for two weeks this month. Chef Suley and his team will use the highly coveted truffles acquired at the auction to create an exclusive dining experience onboard Celebrity Equinox during a 10-night Caribbean cruise departing on Friday, Nov. 21 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Truffle-themed dinners will be available onboard Celebrity ships for select Caribbean sailings in late November and early December.
Keep your eyes peeled for all things truffle!