Tycoons tipped to bid over HK$1.6m for truffle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong tycoons are expected to flock to Macau at the weekend for a charity auction of one of the largest truffles unearthed in half a century.

The white truffle weighs 1.5kg and was found in a Tuscan wood near Pisa, in central Italy, on Friday.

Auction organisers say it is second in size to a 2.5kg truffle found in 1954 and presented to US president Dwight Eisenhower.

But that honour may go to the truffle bought last year by property tycoon Sir Gordon Wu, which weighed in between 1.5kg and 1.59kg, according to various reports.

The latest super-sized fungus is expected to fetch more than Euro140,000 (HK$1.61 million), according to auction organiser Giselle Oberti.

Ms Oberti said the auction would be held at Grand Lisboa hotel on Saturday night, and linked by satellite with Florence and the Refettorio restaurant in London run by Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli. Proceeds would go to local charities, including Caritas in Macau.

Before the auction, there will be a dinner party hosted by tycoon Stanley Ho, who owns the Grand Lisboa, to mark the event. Mr Ho is expected to bid.

It is not known who else will attend the party or the auction. Sir Gordon, who paid a record HK$1.25 million for his truffle last year, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

His truffle became the centrepiece ingredient of a charity dinner.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper in Britain, Ms Oberti said: 'We hope to get the truffle blessed by the Pope before it flies out, but things need to move fast as white truffles should be eaten within 20 days.'

Rarer and more pungent than black truffles, the white Tuber magnatum pico is found in Italy and Croatia, although yields are down this year after a dry summer.

Mr Locatelli said the successful bidder should eat the truffle quickly and keep the dishes simple. 'Risotto with white truffle is best since the rice keeps its heat and makes the truffle sweat and release flavour.'