The black truffle is back
Truffles — the tubers and not chocolates of the same name — are often likened to mushrooms, but they are unlike any mushroom I have ever eaten. At their best, truffles are richly perfumed, enticing and memorable. Fresh only for a limited period every year, they are also expensive.
A subterranean ascomycete fungus of the genus tuber, once eaten their taste is rarely forgotten. There are two versions, white and black. White truffles are sourced solely from Alba in the province of Piedmont, Italy while black truffles can be found in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America.
I once met a truffle hunter and his dog in southern Italy. Traditionally, it is the dog that sniffs out the tubers. Having acquired one black truffle from this pair during our meeting, I placed the solitary truffle in a bowl along with six whole eggs in their shells. I covered the lot with a napkin and left it overnight. Next morning, the fragrance from the bowl was super rich in truffle scents. And the omelets I made from those eggs carried the scents and flavors, too!
Here in Hong Kong, the black truffle season is upon us and several notable restaurants are highlighting this special ingredient.
The Intercontinental Grand Stanford’s Café on M this January and February features more than 10 food selections showcasing the elusive black truffle, as well as fine foie gras from France at the dinner buffet. It’s a great opportunity to showcase this delicacy in a variety of dishes, ranging from appetizers and soups to mains and desserts alongside French fine de claire oysters, Japanese sashimi, daily carvings and more.
From now until January 31, Chef Paolo Federici at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile’s Osteria Ristorante Italiano is showcasing Piedmont’s black truffle delicacy in appetizers and main courses. These include black truffle roast beef carpaccio, black truffle potato and saffron soup with mixed mushrooms, and black truffle homemade chard and buffalo ricotta tortelli with pan-fried goose liver.
With a wide spectrum of specialty ingredients from all corners of the world, the Royal Garden’s Sabatini Ristorante Italiano is now listing a French black winter truffle menu. There’s roasted wild duck served with cooked pear in red wine, grilled radicchio and black truffle. Also on the menu is risotto with artichoke, Italian sausage, parmesan cheese and black truffle. This dish is thickly rich and creamy, and the black truffle aromas are unmistakable.
These always innovative chefs are set to outdo themselves with culinary artistry by presenting a number of innovative dishes, including some we have not seen before, namely truffle popcorn, foie gras crème brulée, and a black truffle chocolate cake. This promotion runs until March 10.
Black truffle served with French fine de claire oysters at Cafe on M.