fine food - Rare foods
Written by Craig Butcher
Sometimes it’s the rarest foods we cherish most – here are three for which the thrill of the chase is more than matched by their flavours.
Japanese Densuke watermelons
Grown on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, just 70 are available in June, where they are most prized as prestige gifts (this year one sold for US$3,450). Resembling a bowling ball, these perfectly formed black balls encase a crisp, sweet flesh and can be had later in the season for around US$50. The most expensive ever sold at auction in June 2008 for US$6,300.
Fresh Australian abalone
Twenty-five per cent of the world’s wild annual harvest of this delightful mollusc comes from Tasmania, to the south of mainland Australia. As prized for their mother-of-pearl shell as the flesh inside, most are hand-dived, with daily limits rigorously applied. In Perth, the recreational season totals just 12 hours over four weekends during October.
Some ingredients are abundantly available, but no less prized or unique for being so: the world’s entire Parmesan Reggiano cheese supply comes from a small, defined region in Parma, Italy. Meanwhile, saffron – from a crocus flower and used, for example, in a Spanish paella – is plentiful but incredibly labour-intensive to harvest.
Italian white truffles
Famously emanating from the regions surrounding Alba and Asti in Italy’s foodie-haven Piedmont, the best of these terrifically tasty tubers are extremely hard to track down first-hand (trusty dogs are often used). They can only be found – by those who know where to look – during October and November.