There’s just one week left to get your truffle shuffle on at Lupa
, as the Central restaurant ends a month of ultimate seasonal indulgence. Don’t miss the exclusive Piemonte menu, a satisfying pairing of delicious dishes and fine wines designed around everyone’s favourite ingredient, the white truffle.
I’ve been meaning to try the monthly regional Italian menus at Lupa since I first moved to Hong Kong, but if anything was going to finally get me to take the plunge and make a booking it was white truffle season. This month the uber-chic Italian, headed by celebrity chef Mario Batali, turns its focus on the Piemonte region of northwestern Italy, home to the world’s best trifola d'Alba.
If you don’t know much about the wonders of white truffle, here’s a couple of eye-watering numbers to whet your appetite. In 2009, white truffle was being sold at around US$14,000 a kilo. The most expensive to date went under the hammer close to home at an auction in Macau in 2007, when casino owner Stanley Ho shifted through his small change to bag a prime 1.5kl specimen for US$330,000.
With that in mind, HK$588 for five courses (each with a monster serving of Italian wine) and an additional HK$388 for five grams of grated Piemonte Alba White Truffle on selected items is hardly unreasonable - and if you’re a truffle piggy like me, completely irresistible.
The first dish that came with the option of a truffle upgrade was the Fontina fondue with thyme crostino, which with its slightly grainy texture and cheesy goodness was something not dissimilar to a posh man's cauliflower cheese. Already a very indulgent dish, the fondue was the perfect vehicle for a thick truffle topping, which acted as a nice compliment to the herby pearls of the crostino. And although this was an extremely rich start to the meal, the crisp Ca Del Baio Langhe white wine pairing cut through perfectly to freshen up the palate for the mains.
It was then onto the homemade mushroom-filled pasta, a large single square of ravioli that would have run the risk of being a tad on the dry side if it wasn't for the welcome surprise of a whole egg yolk buried within. Smothered with butter and truffle and served with an unexpected red wine accompaniment that played to the nutty notes of the mushroom, this dish represented a delicate but well-delivered balancing act.
Although not given the truffle treatment, the braised beef with Barolo is also worth a mention. The super-tender, melt-in-the-mouth medallion was perfectly offset against a tangy serving of stewed savoy cabbage tossed with salt, pepper and fennel-wrapped pancetta.
And although the soft chocolate and Amaretto cake to finish was more of a moose-come-crème-caramel than the stodgy end I was craving, the fresh orange and raspberry concluded the meal on a memorable zesty footing. The non-oppressively sweet and sparkling Moscato d ’Asti La Spinetta that was served up alongside was also deliciously fresh and probably the only dessert wine I could guzzle by the gallon.
Unless you’re on the right side of a casino cash register, white truffle is not an every-day-of-the-week treat. If you think you can handle it once a year without without getting too spoilt however, get yourself a taste of Piemonte pronto!