Celebrating black truffle season in HK

Over the past few months, Hong Kong’s culinary world focused on white truffles — see our coverage on the sale of the 900-gram white truffle at the 12th World White Truffle of Alba Auction. Now it is time for black truffles a la Michelin starred chef Pier Bussetti of Ristorante Pier Bussetti al Castello di Govone in Piedmont, Italy. Domani HK brings Hong Kong truffle lovers a one-night-only black truffle and wine dinner this Thursday the 13th January with Pier Bussetti. Asian Palate talks to Bussetti to gain some insights on how to best appreciate this fungal delight.

Veal fillet, cinnamon essence Jerusalem artichoke puree, black truffle and marsala sauce

AP: Asian Palate PB: Pier Bussetti

AP: Acidity is often regarded one of the key considerations in Italian food and wine pairing. What is your opinion about the key considerations when pairing different cuisines with Italian wines? Any pairing tips for Italian wine with Cantonese food?

PB: Italy is well-known for her numerous native grapes; which makes wine pairing with different cuisines and flavours an interesting and full-of-surprises exercise. During these days in HK I’ve tasted several Chinese dishes; I was most impressed by the Pekin duck which I really loved. I would have liked to pair it with a glass of Barolo from my native Piedmont: maybe a Sorì Ginestra by my old friend Conterno Fantino wine maker in Monforte d’Alba.

AP: White truffle is well known in HK. How is black truffle different from white? How do you determine quality for black truffles? How are black truffles best served?

PB: The white truffle season ends just at the end of November although you can still find some afterwards if it doesn’t snow much during fall. Instead, black truffle is in season right now. With its many varieties, all black truffles have a thick rind whilst whites don’t have it at all. That’s why black truffles give their best if peeled first before cooking. White truffles must not be peeled at all to give its best for hot dishes preparations – the scent spreads much better. Quality is determined basically in the same way: it has to be hard, with a strong scent, and possibly clean. Cleaniness is key such that you can spot potential defects and make sure you pay only for the truffle…not sand and soil! Black truffle gives its best in red sauces and should be paired with wines that go well with red meat and wildfowl.

Exterior of Domani HK

AP: What inspires you to create a black truffle wine dinner in HK? Will you be in Asia for long? Any other cities? Plans to come back again soon?

PB: Seasonality is the main reason. Right now my restaurants in Italy are all featuring a black truffle menu. White and black truffles are a regional pride in Piedmont and it’s my pleasure to showcase Piedmontese treasures to the world. I will stay in HK until next Friday and would have loved to stay longer but I am tied up by work in my restaurant and teaching at the food and design institutes in Turin. In a couple of months’ time, I will probably be here again to prepare a new Tasting Menu for the Domani Restaurant. So in 2011 you will see me fairly often in HK!

AP: Which are your top 5 food trends for 2011?

PB: These are my top five and I will be developing them at Domani HK, after experimenting in my restaurants in Italy:

1) Designing tableware expressly for culinary preparation
I started customizing tableware for gastronomic chefs since 2007 when I was a professor of the IAAD (Private University of Design Arts in Turin). Food & Design is my field of study.

2) Focus on knowledge about Italian cuisine during practical cooking classes

3) Using basic food ingredients
In Italy, flavour is the most important consideration in cooking. After a period of using high-tech cooking methods, I see a return to simplicity and extracting flavours straight from the ingredients!

4) Luxury experiences in fine-dining restaurants
Eating out is more about the gastronomic experience than being fed well. As a Michelin Starred chef I can say that this trend is going to persist for next few years. Luxury will present itself in different expressions.

5) Balance of flavours and wellness
There have been ample western research into the benefits of healthy eating, organic food etc. It aligns well with the Asian eating philosophy thus in the close future I see increasing importance for balanced consideration of flavours and wellness for chefs.

AP: What are your favourite local HK dishes and ingredients?

PB: Just to highlight – Dim Sums like shrimp and pork dumplings, tofu (especially those from my trip to Lamma Island), glazed duck noodles in assorted broths.

Michelin starred chef Pier Bussetti

Pier Bussetti will be presenting a five-course black truffle and wine dinner on the evening of January 13 to all Domani diners at HKD1,388+10%. For more information, please visit  Domani HK

© Photos from Domani HK/ Pier Bussetti