a lumpy little mushroom

France’s biggest black truffle market takes over the town of Richerenches in Provence this weekend. A seductive delicacy – and quite possibly one of my favorite things on the planet – black truffles are an exotic treat due in part to their elusiveness and exorbitant price, but it’s the unmistakably musky, hypnotic scent that drives us gastronomes wild. (Although the erotic and healing properties of truffles are probably completely anecdotal, their singular reputation contributes to the continuing allure.) On November 17th the Brotherhood of the Black Truffle brings together trufficulteurs, restaurants, and fungus aficionados to revel in the season’s first winter truffles with demonstrations by talented truffle-hunting dogs, free tastings, and a giant truffle omelette. I can almost smell it across the Atlantic.

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more stars: ming court

After yesterday’s mess hall meal it was a no brainer to accept the invitation to dine at Ming Court, the Michelin two-star restaurant at Langham Place, Mongkok. I’ll be moving to Langham Place in a few days, too, so not only did it give me the chance to do a bit of neighborhood reconnaissance, but it also gave me the leisurely opportunity to sample the contemporary Cantonese menu of chef Tsang Chiu King. Sophisticated yet approachable - and very, very comfortable – it’s an engaging dining experience of traditional fresh flavors, creatively presented: a trio of dim sum; bean curd three ways – with prawns, braised with black truffle & gold leaf, and stuffed inside whole abalone with black mushroom; subtly elegant matsutake and bamboo funghi soup; stir fried giant garoupa; award-winning pan-fried chicken skin filled with chicken and black truffle, accompanied with sliced pumpkin; baked rice with chicken and cheese served in bell pepper; and a refreshing tofu bird’s nest “extravagance.” Best of all, the food doesn’t take itself too seriously. Chef Tsang is obviously – thankfully – focused on form following flavor. Which makes for happy palates – not to mention empty plates.

 

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