Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gaggenau's White Truffle Hunt

Tis the season for some white truffles again. I have been a fan since the day I caught a whiff of the highly aromatic tartufo bianco. Dubbed the "white diamond of the kitchen", these rare white tubers can cost from $3,500 to $19,000 per kilo. Last year, I had the chance to host a white truffle luncheon at the Gaggenau Experience Center.

The best white truffles come from Alba, Piedmont region in Northen Italy. White truffles are costly because of its rarity, as they only grow underground and cannot be cultivated.

This year, as part of the celebration for the highly anticipated launch of its award-winning CX 480 full surface induction hob, Gaggenau presented the first-ever white truffle hunt in Singapore (or possibly the first in the world). Such ingenuity puts Gaggenau in a league of its own!

On 27th October 2011, I had the privilege to be part of this "amazing race", along with Sylvia Toh from The New Paper. For this truffle hunt, we had to visit several locations, but done in style with a fleet of Audi cars and our very own designated chauffeurs.

1st Stop - Gaggenau Experience Center

The meeting point for the hunt was at the Gaggenau Experience Center located at Bishan Street 21. Gaggenau invited one of its culinary ambassadors, award-winning Chef Ryan Clift of the famed Tippling Club, to design an exquisite sensory experience for the truffle "hunters". In the humidor next to him was $8,000 worth of white truffles.

Chef Ryan talked about white truffles while preparing breakfast for us using the latest CX 480 induction hob. Most people don't know that induction cooking is better than conventional gas cooker... as the precision in temperature control is a trait appreciated by professional chefs.

On the menu was scrambled eggs with white truffles. Forget about breakfast at Tiffany's. Make mine a breakfast at Gaggenau any day! White truffles are best served raw, shaved thinly over simple dishes such as eggs.

To kick-start our truffle hunt on a high note, we were served Ruinart Blanc de Blancs with our breakfast! I wish every morning could be like this.

2nd Stop - Les Amis

When I got to Les Amis, I saw my good friend Timothy Goh, Director of Wines for Les Amis group. He is also a very well-respected sommelier who has won numerous awards.

The hunt continued with us being ushered to the private dining room. Timothy conducted a short wine tasting session and gave us tips on how to pair wines with truffle dishes.

These elegant black tasting glasses are from Zwiesel 1872. These crystal glasses are handmade and mouth-blown by artisans in Germany. I appreciate the attention paid to the smallest details, down to the choice of glasses being used. We were also served canapes to go along with the wines that we were tasting.

3rd Stop - Oyster Bar

At Oyster Bar, a "truffle hunter" (played by an actor) shared his experiences from his truffle hunting days.

We were also served risotto with white truffles. It kept getting better with each stopover.

Final Stop - Tippling Club

The finale of the hunt was to find where the white truffle was being hidden in the special gigantic "forest" dessert that Chef Ryan created.

We were all given a chance to sniff out the "forest" dessert and make a guess where the real white truffle was being hidden.

Once the winner was determined (nope, I didn't win), Chef Ryan cut up the "forest" dessert to serve to the truffle hunters.

My sweet ending to a very interesting white truffle hunt. It proved that white truffles are indeed versatile enough to be served even with desserts. What a memorable sensory experience it has been! To top this experience would be a trip to Alba, Italy, to search for the real white truffles. Perhaps that would just be what I would do next year...

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