A gigantic 2-lb. white truffle just sold at auction for nearly $118,000.
Michelin-starred chef Umberto Bombana, of the Italian restaurant Otto e Mezzo in Hong Kong, was the winner of the two-pound white truffle. He paid €103,000 ($117,795.64 USD) at auction.
The bidding was held at the Castle of Grinzane Cavour during the International Alba White Truffle Fair in northern Italy’s Piedmont region. Offers were accepted simultaneously in Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, and Moscow, Cyprus’ English language news outlet In-Cyprus reported.
Although the white truffle is notoriously expensive, the price of this one was driven high by the craze of the auction (with proceeds going to charity organizations around Italy, according to the festival).
The prized truffle is a white tuber, one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. White truffles are much more rare than black because they cannot be farmed. They can only be found in forests, growing near the roots of trees anywhere from two to eight inches below the ground.
The tuber lives in symbiosis with the tree and, as it evaporates, it gives off an odor that can be detected by well-trained animals like pigs or dogs (and experienced hunters), In-Cyprus reported.
It was reported earlier this year that the price for white truffles (also known as “white gold”) hit an all-time high, selling for more than $4,500 per pound, according to The New York Post. The price increase is due to a dry, hot summer in Italy and also global supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Alba White Truffle Fair brings about 100,000 visitors every year to Piedmont from all over the world. At the fair, they can buy, sell or simply just smell the expensive delicacy.
The truffle fair will continue in Alba until Dec. 5.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.