"White Alba truffle " (Italian: Tartufo bianco d'Alba).
Here's the jewel that, from our cucina rustica (traditional Italian home-cooking), has conquered the most sophisticated tables of the world, becoming one of the symbols of haute cuisine as well as a culinary statement of distinction; this year's record sale at the "Asta Mondiale del Tartufo Bianco d'Alba" (the international Alba truffle held once a year in Piedmont) was set by a truffle sold for 100,000 euros, or roughly 150,000 usd, to a customer from Hong kong.
I reckon it's quite a task to connect the image of the clumsy, grubby fungus above with posh diners, six figure prices and five-star chefs; but, just like the frog turned into a prince when kissed by the beautiful princess, so the timid tuber blooms, as the blade touches it. When sliced it reveals its secret: an aroma that caresses your senses and stimulates the palate like no other, sort of like garlic lightly sauteed in butter with a hint of autumn woodlands; curious at first, then most likely addictive. White 'Alba' truffle has the most intense and distinctive scent, which, together with its scarcity, make it the most expensive item on most menus. It owes part of its name to the Italian town of Alba, in the Northern region of Piedmont, renowned for the quality of its truffles.
One of the most traditional ways of consuming tartufo is sliced very thinly over 'sunny side up' eggs, with freshly made or grilled polenta. It can turn the ordinary into extraordinary when added into mashed potatoes, or sliced over a pan seared filet mignon with a light buttery sauce.
Truffles should be eaten a few days after they've been unearthed. One of the ways to store them is by placing them in a box with raw rice in the refrigerator, thus avoiding the formation of humidity which will ruin the precious ingredient.