Uncorked

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 2010, 12:00am
 

Unfortunately, the closest many of us will get to serving white truffles at home will be by using non-seasonal truffle paste. The better of these are made with truffles too small to sell whole; mid-priced pastes contain some shavings of truffle; while the cheapest are composed primarily of other types of mushroom with just enough truffle to ensure the name on the label isn't false advertising.

With white truffle there's a limit to how much of the exotic perfume a gram of shavings can impart; generally, the perfume doesn't increase by adding lots more of the tuber. Pasta with white truffle needs a savoury platform and parmesan cheese is perfect. The salt in the cheese gives the truffle somewhere to rest. Depending on your taste, fruity or spicy olive oil would make a worthy finishing touch to this simple but delicious combination. A wine to accompany this dish needs to be pure and straightforward; try a simple red with a little oak or a lovely aged white.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko sauvignon blanc 2006, Marlborough, New Zealand

This is one of the more complex wines; it smells like a Bordeaux white but it's from New Zealand. The truffle's strength is matched by the wine's pure fruit lift. The steely, minerally character of the Te Koko takes the earthy tuber and lifts it sky high, elevating the exotic perfume. The wine has ample texture to handle any shape of pasta, and the almost invisible oak component in the wine and the salty parmesan form a delicious alliance. Available for HK$480 at Moet Hennessy Diageo (tel: 2976 1888).

Leabrook Estate cabernet franc 2006, Adelaide Hills, Southern Australia

Cabernet franc is a hard grape variety to sell: few consumers recognise it on its own and few winemakers bother to spend much time and effort making or marketing it. So this offering by Leabrook Estate is too interesting to pass up. The winery is located in the picturesque Adelaide hills - home of many top winemakers. The wine's pure fruit and structured palate give a truffle dish backbone. The wine has definition that marries well with the food. Finish the dish with spicy olive oil, to give the combination some balanced high notes. Available for HK$175 at Adelaide Cellar Door (tel: 2526 0151).

Marques de Caceres rioja blanco 2007, Spain

This wine is great value. It's quite unfashionable - I'm sure it doesn't have any Robert Parker points - but that's probably why we can still afford it. It's a wonderfully savoury and crisp dry white wine that, for mouthful after white-truffle mouthful, caresses the tongue and refreshes the palate so it can appreciate the truffle. Available for HK$72 at Kedington Wines (tel: 2898 9323).

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