Charitable wine master sees a million good reasons to shell out for white truffle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 November, 2010, 12:00am

There are simply too many ways to spend HK$1 million on a single purchase in Hong Kong, and one of them is to splurge on white truffle.

Chef Umberto Bombana announced the results of an auction this week in which Jeannie Cho Lee, the first Asian master of wine, secured 900 grams of white truffle with a bid of HK$1.11million. It was all for a good cause, though, as the proceeds will go to the charity, Mother's Choice.

Having organised his first local truffle auction in 2004, the ex-chef de cuisine of Toscana restaurant at the former Ritz-Carton Hong Kong said the local appetite for fine ingredients was now keener than ever. 'I used to buy only 2kg of truffle every season, but now I use something like 1kg every day,' said Bombana, who now operates his own Italian restaurant in Central, 8? Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA.

'Some Chinese chefs have called me up for advice on how to use truffle in congee, abalone and fried rice.'

So what makes white truffle such a sought-after ingredient?

'There's a lot of demand in the market, but not a lot of produce. Nature doesn't give us a lot of white truffles,' Bombana said.

'White truffle really gives people a pleasant shock. Its smell and flavour are very powerful.'

He suggested using truffle with simple food, and his favourite recipe is white truffle with Italian broccoli rabe served with crispy bread.

'Eggs are also good. Simple flavours can go a long way.'