Canadian Truffle Farm Attracting Interest Of China-Based Foodies As Domestic Truffle Market Shows Signs Of Life
Truffles, the so-called “fruit of the gods” coveted by gourmands across the globe, are not new to China — they do, after all, grow there in Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet and are usually destined for the export market. What is new, however, is the growth of domestic consumption. High-profile events in the past like the 2007 auction at which Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho paid $330,000 for a massive white truffle and another, more recent auction where a consortium of Hong Kong-based bidders led by KKR private-equity investor Joseph Bae beat out a group of Italian bidders for a 760-gram white truffle. From the Wall Street Journal:
The takeover price: one million Hong Kong dollars, or about US$129,000.
Mr. Bae’s consortium included five other wealthy Hong Kong residents seated at his table enjoying a special eight-course truffle meal held at Crown Wine Cellars and prepared by Italian chef Massimo Camia. (One attendee gushed over the mashed potatoes with gorgonzola and white truffles.) On Nov. 8, Mr. Bae’s group beat out a competing HK$900,000 million offer from a group of Italians, bidding simultaneously from their native land. After the contest, the esteemed truffle was loaded onto a plane and flown immediately to Hong Kong.
While Hong Kong, with its early integration into the globalized world, does not reflect the interest of the vast majority of Mainland Chinese in culinary objects of lust like truffles, another article out of Canada indicates that Mainland demand is starting to grow:
On a 16-hectare spread near Morningstar Golf Course in French Creek, Grant and Betty Duckett believe they may have started something that could reinvigorate small-acreage farming on Vancouver Island.
The retired Alberta couple own and operate Duckett Truffieres, the site of Canada’s first-known black perigold truffle.
Known as the “fruit of the Gods” black perigold truffles sell for up to $1,500 a kilogram and harvest time is approaching soon, said Betty.
“We harvest from December to February and we are getting calls right now from across North America, Japan, China, New Zealand and Australia.”
As more gourmet restaurants open in China’s culinary hubs, and Chinese chefs looking to set themselves apart by experimenting with unique flavors from around the world become the norm in China’s more cosmopolitan cities — an already common sight in places like Beijing and Shanghai — truffle farmers (and auction houses putting giant white truffles on the block) look to benefit from this new, but expanding, market opportunity. While domestic truffles might be just as good — something that only experts can decide — they don’t yet have the panache of Italian or even Canadian truffles.