Every Day We're Trufflin'
The season is well and truly upon us. And no, we’re not talking turkey or tinsel—for discerning diners with deep pockets, the arrival of fall means it’s time to indulge in one of the most ambrosial ingredients in the world: the glorious white truffle.
Chef Paolo Morresi of Aqua is no stranger to truffles, given that he hails from the Italian town of Abruzzo, which is well known for the delicacy. This season, the chef is bringing over the best of the winter white truffle crop to the city. The menu sounds like a spectacular autumn feast, with dishes such as marinated egg yolk with butter, demi-sel truffle caviar and white truffle ($268), wild herb white truffle risotto with pecorino ($688) and grilled porcini mushrooms with ravioli and truffle ($698) offering a rich and buttery sampling of the famous fungus. Save room for dessert: Mulled wine-poached pear ($248) accompanied with cream of hazelnuts, white chocolate wasabi and—you guessed it—more shaved truffle. 29-30/F, One Peking, 1 Peking Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 3427-2288, aqua.com.hk.
Pierre is Here
Hong Kong diners: Mark November 18-25 in your calendars for an exclusive white truffle tasting with legendary chef Pierre Gagnaire, who’s in town to showcase a four-course menu at his eponymous restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental. Gagnaire will be incorporating the exquisite ingredient in dishes such as corolla of scallops with a veil of lardo di Colonnata and artichokes ($900) and breast of farm hen roasted with onion fondue and Paris mushrooms ($1,300). The tasting menu is available for $2,888 or you can order dishes a la carte. Sure, you’ll probably be stuck eating wonton noodles until Christmas to balance out your budget, but that lingering aroma of truffle should be enough to see you through. Pierre, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Rd., Central, 2522-0111, mandarinoriental.com.
Empire State of Eating
When white truffles get the Carbone treatment you know it’s going to be memorable. The irresistible treat gets served up with all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from the fine-dining New York-Italian establishment, with truffles from Piedmont presented tableside in fancy cigar boxes by the restaurant’s signature tuxedo-clad captains. Truffle shavings melt deliciously into a warm and creamy fettucine ($398) and float atop a classic starter of carpaccio Piemontese ($228). Enjoy the native Piedmont treasures alongside wines from the same region, including the Luciano Sandrome ‘Valmaggiore’, Nebbiolo d’Alba 2012 ($898). 9/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St., Central, 2593-2593, carbone.com.hk.
On the Hunt
How dedicated does a chef need to be to travel to Italy’s Piedmont region each year and personally source the “white gold” of the season? Two Michelin-starred chef Philippe Léveillé of L’altro has sniffed out (OK, he’s accompanied the dogs that sniffed out) the elusive gems in the annual hunt around the forests of Alba and brought the best of the bunch back to his restaurant at L Place. Chef Léveillé is pairing truffle with slow-cooked egg and crispy parmigiano reggiano fondue ($298) and beef tartare “all’Albese,” with raw egg yolk and fresh herbs. 10/F, L Place, 139 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2555-9100, laltro.hk.
Question: How do you make afternoon tea even fancier? Answer: Shower it in white truffles. Tosca at The Ritz-Carlton has crafted an exquisite menu highlighting the gastronomic gem in their white truffle afternoon tea ($580 for one, $1,088 for two), available through December. It’s not just bite-sized nibbles and macarons here—expect savory midday snacks including white truffle burrata cheese risotto and Jerusalem artichoke with truffle shavings. Prefer your truffle hit in the morning? Stop by Sunday brunch ($838 with free-flow champagne) for the ultimate luxury—a whole white truffle to yourself which you can shave over your favorite brunch dishes. 102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd. West, West Kowloon, 2263-2270.
NOMing on Truffle
It really is “not only meatballs”: This fall, the Italian-American diner NOM is serving up some mouthwatering truffled up dishes such as spiced cured beef carpaccio with fennel and celery ($228) and maltagliati pasta with celery root, parmesan and fresh Alba truffle ($368). There’s no word on truffle meatballs yet, but you’d be remiss not to order a few batches of their signature dish to pair alongside the truffle feast. We’re partial to the lamb meatballs with tomato olive sauce and goat cheese ($98 for three). 1-5 Elgin St., Central, 2540-7988, nom.com.hk.
Get Me Some Truffle
If you have loads of cash lying around (because who doesn’t?), here’s where you can blow it all on your own private stock of white truffles. From buffalo burrata to tagliolini egg pasta, specialty food shop Buonissimo (buonissimo.hk) stocks everything you need for a true Italian feast—including an impressive bounty of white truffle. A 50g piece—that’s a small nugget that will fit easily within the palm of your hand—will run you $3,105 and delivery takes 7-10 days. If you’re not all truffled out from dinner at L’altro, take one home as a souvenir (minimum 50g, $110 per gram). You can also purchase them in special gift boxes along with chef Philippe Léveillé’s new recipe book “La Mia Vita al Burro” for a swanky early stocking stuffer.
If you don’t want to part with your savings just yet, there are plenty of everyday products you can stock in your pantry all year round for a quick aromatic boost. Find truffle oil, truffle butter, truffle sauce and truffle honey (you name it, it’s probably a truffle thing) at international supermarkets and online grocers. Pick up a 70g jar of truffle butter at il Bel Paese (ilbelpaese.com.hk) for $98 or snag a small bottle of white truffle EVOO (that’s extra virgin olive oil for newbs) at City’super for $80.