Oregon Truffle Festival
Now through April, foragers are digging up one of the region’s most prized items. It’s the main ingredient of the upcoming Oregon Truffle Festival, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in North America.
Truffles in the Pacific Northwest
Unbeknownst to many, Oregon is home to a wealth of truffles. Beloved by the culinary community, these delicate mushroom spinoffs pack powerful flavor despite their petite build. Four species are indigenous to the state, typically found just beneath the soil surface near the roots of trees. The damp, forested conditions of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for truffles.
A kind of land caviar, Oregon truffles are known to fetch up to $800 per pound, putting them on par with famed varieties like French black truffles. The flavor is like a magnified mushroom, potent and earthy. Exquisite shaved over fresh pasta, pizza, or even ice cream, these little treasures are dense with flavor and often infused in oil.
An Opportunity to Learn More
Researchers at Oregon State University have been studying local truffles for generations but the natural delicacy, by and large, remains shrouded in mystery. Like all things foraged, the truffle is subject to secrecy and protective hunters hungry for profit. The Oregon Truffle Festival offers a rare examination of a growing and often hidden industry – not to mention delicious adaptations of the fungi. Experts estimate that proper truffle management and support statewide could bring $200 million to Oregon each year.
This winter, Eugene and the Yamhill Valley will once again host fungus enthusiasts for a pair of weekends devoted to education, feasts and wine pairings. The Oregon Truffle Festival was founded in 2006 by mycologist Dr. Charles K. Lefevre and his wife, Leslie Scott. Per tradition, the annual festivities will commence with the Truffle Dog Championship on January 24th. There, trained pups compete in finding truffle-scented targets, mimicking the traditional approach of finding truffles in the wild.
James Beard award winning chefs team up with winemakers and fungus fanatics to showcase the magical gastronomical powers of the truffle. This year’s featured guests include Willamette Valley Vineyards vintner Joe Ibrahim, Christopher Czarnecki of local restaurant Joel Palmer House, Canadian research scientist Dr. Shannon Berch, author and Wine Forest owner Connie Green, and many, many more.
The latter weekend of Oregon Truffle Festival touts a family of intriguing events within a short drive of the Atticus Hotel. Marquee events that weekend include truffle hunts and winery luncheons and terroir-focused meals. Soter Vineyards hosts A Taste of Place: Part Deux, a pairing dinner set before a roaring fireplace, while Anne Amie throws a truffle themed brunch party. Nearby Newberg will host the Fresh Truffle Marketplace, with cooking demonstrations, artisanal food and wines and a truffle dog demonstration. Several dinners round out the busy wine country weekend.
Oregon Truffle Festival’s opening weekend takes place in Eugene January 24-27. The wine country installment occurs February 15-17 at a host of wineries and Yamhill Valley venues. If you are considering joining the festivities in Yamhill County, reservations at the Atticus Hotel and enjoy 15% off and complimentary transportation to events.