December 29, 2013

White truffle for mom

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I was getting mentally ready for my Christmas Eve dinner, sitting around in the office, when an idea popped into my head.  Why not bring some white truffle home to mom?  It's in season and would make a very special treat for her.  I could cook something simple at home, and just shave the little tuber on top.

But it was 5pm on Christmas Eve... Hong Kong was going to be closed for the next 2 days, and I was flying home on the 27th.  Where would I get a white truffle on such short notice?

Fortunately I was on my way to On Lot 10 to pick up my dinner, so I asked David if he could spare me a small truffle.  Being the nice guy that he is, he very kindly obliged me.

Believe it or not, I've never bought truffle before.  I first talked about doing it more than a decade ago, but somehow never got around to actually doing it, so I didn't have any experience with taking care of one.  I'd seen people bury them in risotto rice inside air-tight containers, so I set out to get myself those two things.  I unwrapped the cellophane and tissue covering the little treasure, and buried it in a full jar of carnaroli rice.  I picked up a few simple ingredients that were missing from my very empty fridge in my vacant apartment in Taipei, and with a little help from mom, put together a simple dinner for the parental units.

Fettucine with butter sauce, shimeji mushrooms, 62° organic egg and white truffle from Alba - FAIL.  This failed on so many fronts it's not even funny.  If there was any doubt about whether the statement "I'm not a good cook" is true, I think this just about settles it.  Mom thinks I got the proportions between butter and milk wrong (I was scared to use too much butter), and I also under-seasoned the sauce.  I also cooked too much fettucine for us, which meant there wasn't enough mushroom.

It was probably wrong of me to bury the truffle in a big jar packed with carnaroli, as it probably sucked up too much moisture and made the truffle too dry.  I also had the wrong shaver for the truffle, making the job much more time-consuming.  Added to the fact that I forgot to pre-heat the plates, this meant the pasta got cold fairly quickly, and we didn't get enough fragrance from the white truffles.

Prosciutto de San Danielle - this was OK, and we had it AFTER the pasta.  But mom complained that this wasn't as tasty as what she has at home...  Next time I'll probably slice it up and put it in the pasta itself, like Philippe did at Upper Modern Bistro.

Mom also made a big salad, which we enjoyed after the pasta...

There were more macarons from Pierre Hermé, but I left most of them to mom and only took the PX.  Pretty interesting with the raisins inside.

Naturally I opened a bottle of wine to go with dinner.  Unfortunately I didn't have any Barolos or Barbarescos lying around in Taipei, so I picked something a little more unusual...

1996 Turley Zinfandel Aida Vineyard - plummy, berries, a little sweet vanilla, sous bois, forest, minty.  A little alcoholic.  A lovely wine.

This wasn't the most delicious dinner that I made tonight, but at least it was edible and I didn't burn my food...  I think the parental units appreciated the fact that I tried to cook them dinner, and it's the thought that counts... and I got to use my SousVide Supreme again after about a year.

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