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Prized black truffle dishes at Tempo

/ 06:27 AM October 05, 2013

FRENCH gourmands consider truffles, a highly prized food, “diamonds of the kitchen.”

Truffle is a fruiting body of subterranean ascomycete fungus found in close symbiotic association with roots of trees like oak, hazel and pine. While we are more familiar with mushrooms, a spore-fruiting body of a fungus that typically grows above ground, truffles grow naturally underground in Europe where truffle hogs or pigs are utilized to hunt them. The Italian white truffle is superior in taste and price to the French black truffle, and can cost as much as US$15,000 per kilogram. Black truffles cost anywhere from US $250 to 450 per pound. Quite a hefty sum to pay for a nondescript albeit flavorful fungi!

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For the months of September and October, the expensive black truffles take the center stage at Crimson Resort & Spa’s Tempo Pan Asian Specialty Restaurant. The drive to this world-class paradise in Mactan Island to enjoy the Truffles Menu created by Australian Executive Stuart Blair is worth the extra mile. Our gracious dinner hosts were General Manager Jaime Montenegro, together with the resort’s new F & B Director, 30-year old Florent Humeau, from the wine and culinary region Pays de Loire in the west of France, who was introduced by the resort’s PR Manager Mia Sy.

Executive Stuart Blair (whom I fondly call “The Islander” since his work experience has brought him to exotic island resorts in Bali, Fiji, Seychelles and Maldives) managed to get out of the kitchen to say a quick hello and served each black truffle dish with a brief description. For openers, Scallops Cauliflower, Truffle and Apple—a dish of lightly seared sea scallops served with creamy cauliflower puree with caramelized apple and fresh black truffle shavings was served. The scallops were plump and succulent but my taste buds were concentrated on how the black truffles” pungent taste added flavor to the mild scallops. This was followed by Ham, Truffles and Eggs —ham hock bonbons (croquettes) on a light pea salad with quail eggs and black truffle dressing and black truffle shavings. For the main courses, I skipped the Angus Beef and Truffle Explosion and chose to have the Shitake Mushrooms, Foie Gras and Truffle. I felt a tinge of guilt as I ate the seared Foie Gras served on a risotto of field mushrooms infused with truffle oil and finished with light shavings of black truffles. Foie Gras or fattened goose liver has become controversial due to gavage feeding that animal rights and welfare group consider a cruel process. The state of California in America has banned the serving and eating of Foie Gras. Pushing the thought aside, I waited for the dessert to be served. Surprisingly, even the dessert used this pricey mushroom, too—Pear, Sorbet and Chocolate, which is poached white wine pear with light spiced truffle sorbet chocolate spaetzle (soft dumpling found in Germany and Alsace) and Pineapple and Black Truffle Parcels in Calamansi and Cinnamon Soup. The truffles menu showcased the versatility of both Executive Chef Stuart Blair and the pricey black truffles. It was an exquisite dinner but I am still perplexed why chefs and gourmets pay so much for these fungi.

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