Biggest truffle ever to be auctioned off by Sotheby's
On Saturday, Sotheby's auction house is selling the largest truffle ever recorded.
The four-pound white truffle, nicknamed "Big Boy," was found in the Umbria region of northern Italy.
While it's in a similar plant family of tubers, like the humble potato, the white truffle is a highly-sought-after delicacy used by chefs and fans of high-end cuisine, and it has a starting bid of $50,000.
Inside a terminal at John F. Kennedy airport, the Sabatino Truffle company waited for its precious cargo to clear customs. As CBS News' Don Dahler reports, the incredibly rare truffle was unearthed a week earlier, but has now made the 4,300-mile journey to the U.S.
Once cleared, Federico Balestra, the company's CEO, gingerly unwrapped the delicacy.
"Wow, it's gorgeous, it's cold, it's perfect," he said.
Balestra said it was his sister in Italy who found the gem.
"'You don't know what we found,'" he recalled her saying.
For many, pouring this much attention over a truffle might be difficult to understand.
"Rare truffle, a big truffle like this, you find only every 100-200 years."
The hunt for truffles has become a sport. Some people build entire vacations around the search for truffles -- Oprah and her pal and "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, for example.
The unique truffle was found by a hunter and his dog, Rey, but the Sabatino company would only tell us his first name, Mateo. Balestra assured CBS News that he received a big bonus for his find.
Explaining the smell to a truffle to a novice might be as hard as finding one like Mateo's.
"They ask me, many times now, 'how truffles smell like?' Truffles smell like truffles -- that's why it's unique," Balestro said. "You taste one time, you smell one time, you cannot compare to any other smell. Truffle is truffle."
And that taste is in demand. In Manhattan, the high-end restaurant Le Cirque serves mere shavings of white truffle on a twice-baked potato; served with vanilla-almond custard for dessert; and thick shavings done tableside, directly onto pasta -- at a cost of $120.
Truffles lose between 4 percent and 6 percent of their weight each day, intensifying the need to get a truffle to market quickly.
A truffle's shelf life lasts just about two weeks, so whoever buys this four-pound Big Boy, better get to it.
Offers have come in from around the world, including China, to buy the truffle. It could go for close to a million dollars, and Federico Balestra says he's donating every dime to charity.
Via - cbsnews.com