Simplicity is Strength

Truffles and beef carpaccio.

In November, private-equity investor Joseph Bae paid a million Hong Kong dollars (US$129,000/-)  for a 760-gram white truffle from the city of Alba, in Italy’s northern Piedmont region, considered by many to have the best “tartufo bianco” in the world.

Then Bae and five other wealthy Hong Kong residents sat down to enjoy a special eight-course truffle meal held at the private club, Crown Wine Cellars, in Hong Kong, prepared by Italian chef Massimo Camia.

Fortunately this wasn’t a mere display of culinary indulgence. All proceeds for the truffle sale went to support three children’s charities – the Changing Young Lives Foundation and Mother’s Choice in Hong Kong and the village of Tempera, Italy, which will use the funds to rebuild a children’s nursery destroyed in a recent earthquake.

Despite the rebound in global markets, truffle prices apparently remain off their historical highs. The US$129,000/- transaction still pales behind the record US$330,000/- Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho paid for a giant white truffle in late 2007.

White truffles are the most expensive truffles and are more expensive than black truffles.

The black truffle or black Périgord truffle is named after the Périgord region in France and grows exclusively with oak.

White truffles are generally served raw, and shaved over steaming buttered pasta or salads. White or black paper-thin truffle slices may be inserted into meats, under the skins of roasted fowl, in foie gras preparations, in pâtés, or in stuffings. Some specialty cheeses contain truffles as well.

The best things in life are the simplest – my favorite way of eating white truffles is shaving them over scrambled eggs or beef carpaccio or as Aoki does it, shaved over tai sashimi or chawanmushi.

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