It’s a great time of year on the West Coast for everyone who digs truffles – literally and figuratively.
In January and beyond, festivals and restaurants devoted to the fabulously flavored fungi will be packed with not only those who love the aromatic delicacy, but also those who root them out of the ground.
While truffles are thought to have originated centuries ago in Europe and the Mediterranean region, they are now grown in the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Chile. They also are found in their natural habit – orchards and forests — from northern California to southern Washington, which is what the January celebrations are all about.
First up is the fifth annual Napa Truffle Festival, Jan. 16-19, pairing world-class cuisine and cutting-edge science. The festival focuses on two complementary aspects of European truffles: the best chefs on the planet known for truffle cuisine, and international truffle experts and scientists recognized for their expertise and data on truffle cultivation. Fungi foodies and aspiring truffle growers alike will find activities to satisfy their appetite and curiosity.
A Michelin star team of chefs, led by Ken Frank of Napa’s La Toque restaurant, will give culinary demonstrations and showcase their talents in a tour de force truffles-and-wine dinner on Saturday. Leading the scientific presentations will be experts from the pioneering American Truffle Company, a master truffle-dog trainer, wild-mushroom foragers/mycologists, and everyone’s four-legged fungi favorite, Rico the truffle dog.
Information and tickets: www.napatrufflefestival.com
The 10th annual Oregon Truffle Festival wafts into Portland and Yamhill Jan. 15-18, and Eugene Jan. 23-25. The festival attracts thousands of culinary tourists, growers, dog trainers, scientists and media from around the world. It includes a variety of culinary events, tasting showcases, cooking classes, truffle demonstrations and educational seminars, many of which can be purchased a la carte. For those who seek the full epicurean experience, weekend packages are available in both locales.
Oregon has recently become known as a world-class truffle region, rivaling its European counterparts in size, quality and flavor. It has the ideal landscape for what has been estimated as a $200 million annual cash crop for the state. One of the festival’s primary goals is to feed the demand for knowledge and education for cultivating truffles in the Pacific Northwest.
Information and tickets: www.oregontrufflefestival.com.
Both festivals offer ample opportunities to purchase high-quality truffles on site.
Feel like getting down and dirty to forage with an experienced humans and canines? Check out private truffle forays like those offered by Oregon’s Umama Truffle Dogs.