Massimo Vidoni is thrilled. On November 5, the Dubai-based truffle dealer got a chance to source one of the largest white truffles in the world, weighing a whopping 1.15 kilograms.
"It is so rare to find truffles that weigh more than a kilo," he tells us. "In the past 20 years, only six such truffles have been registered."
Of these, Vidoni has had the opportunity to handle two, one of which is the 1.15-kilogram white truffle from the hills of Tuscany, which is now in the possession of chef Francesco Guarracino at Roberto's Dubai. The other was found exactly 20 years ago, in November 1998, which Vidoni sold in New York to chef Rick Moonen.
"Truffles cannot be cultivated. They are truly a gift of mother earth, which can only grow naturally. And there are special techniques to train the dogs who hunt for them - akin to police-dog training," says the founder of Italtouch, who is better known as Dubai's Truffle Man. The rare Tuber Magnatum Pico truffle, which is in Dubai now, was discovered by truffle dogs Tina and Chira.
Another reason for their high value is that truffles lose 3 per cent to 5 per cent of their weight everyday. For instance, when Roberto's bought the truffle, it was already down to 1,035 grams. "The truffle loses its humidity as the days go by," explains Vidoni. He also notes that a truffle is edible for about 10 or so days after discovery. "It's garbage after that. That's why we truffle dealers say it's more precious than diamonds. After all, diamonds are forever; truffles are not."
A single dish contains between 1 gram and 2 grams of truffle, which roughly translates to 650 dishes for the 1kg truffle at Roberto's. From a foodie's point of view, Vidoni says: "Truffles have an almost inebriating effect; they put you in a party mood, they make you happy."
Roberto's Dubai will host White Truffle Month through November, serving up dishes such as burrata cheese (Dh132); chitarra spaghetti (Dh200); and beef tenderloin polenta and mushrooms (Dh495), each sprinkled with shavings from the mammoth white truffle.