Willamette Valley Vineyards, I ate one of the best truffle dishes I've ever had: a Pinot Noir-braised pork belly with white truffle-onion jam, dried cherries, and a frisee with raspberry-black truffle vinaigrette (see below). It was a perfectly balanced blend of flavors and textures that was expertly knitted together by the truffle jam. This was proof that an Oregon truffle experience could be a culinary epiphany rather than a shrug.
Eating our home-grown truffles is not always so revelatory. Truffles get raked up too young, sold to retailers who don't know any better, and then passed on to customers who have no benchmark for comparison.
Fortunately this is not the case with the Oregon Truffle Festival, which aims to educate as well as nourish. The talks and lectures from truffle experts the world over were illuminating, and though not every single dish served over the course of eight different multi-course meals throughout the weekend was a resounding success, most of the dishes used generous amounts of ripe truffles in toothsome ways that showed off the fungi's singular qualities.
|Photo: Jen Reyneri|
In addition to the guided forays and lectures, the festival included dog-training workshops, cooking classes, and a grower's forum for the brave cultivation set.
Oregon black truffles (Leucangium carthusianum). Three-hundred plates covered three long prep tables as the first course made its debut, each plate decorated with a square of Celery Root & Black Truffle Panna Cotta topped with Dungeness Crab Salad & Parisian Pears. The kitchen staff, armed with mandolines, roamed up and down the line, shaving away. The scent of black truffles hung in the air like a heavy fog. Indeed, it was nearly disorienting.