The black truf­fle is back

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CITY LIGHTS - By MAG­GIE BEALE

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.

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