The Oregon Truffle Festival is a “party with a purpose.” With its unique wild beauty, the Willamette Valley has become the center for Oregon’s food ecotourism. Truffles are one of the prizes.
The annual festival is at the forefront of truffle education, cultivation, and promotion. And leading it is Charles Lefevre and his wife, Leslie Scott, who inaugurated the Oregon Truffle Festival in 2006. “We’re trying to make this an authentic celebration of this region of the world,” says Dr. Lefevre, educator, noted mycologist, and advocate of the celebrated fungus among us.
OTF, a nonprofit organization, encourages and cultivates information on sustainable growing and harvesting practices. They also foster an appreciation of this seasonal food through collaborations with chefs, restauranteurs, harvesters, and others. The festival is online for this year’s celebration, featuring cooking demonstrations from master chefs, educational panels, and classes, including truffle dog training.
While many Oregon truffle species possess culinary potential, four native Oregon truffles are superstars: the Oregon black, Oregon winter white, Oregon spring white, and Oregon brown, as well as the prized French Burgundy and Périgord truffles. The Truffle Farming A-Z Workshop, lead by Dr. Lefevre, provides online and small group field studies.
James Beard Award-winner Chef Vitaly Paley leads the first event of the 2021 season, on February 6th, guiding the at-home cooking class in creating an incredible three-course truffle dinner serving 2-4 guests. Antiquum Farm will be pairing local wines. Cook Along tickets include recipes, a 3-ounce box of freshly foraged Oregon white and black truffles, 4-ounces white truffle-infused organic butter, and an OTF truffle shaver–all shipped overnight. The Follow Along ticket inspires participants as Chef Paley cooks from his home kitchen, plus a post-class recording and downloadable recipes.
What do truffles do for cuisine? Descriptions of a musky, woodsy, smoky, earthy, garlicky, aphrodisiacal aroma and taste do not do them justice. Each species possesses a unique scent and flavor due to the pheromone androstanol and other volatile compounds. Milder dishes such as eggs, poultry, and creamy pasta were traditionally the providence of truffles, incorporated to make them come to life with a unique aroma and taste. Karl Zenk, previously the executive chef of Marche, suggests a classic potato soup imbued with truffles. Chef Sarah Schafer of Irving Street Kitchen tempted with “Cold-smoked oysters with lemon oil and black truffles, or salmon gravlax cured with white truffles”. Festival culinary co-director Charles Ruff seduces via a dark chocolate hot chocolate with black truffle.
To dig up more information about the Oregon Truffle Festival, please visit oregontrufflefestival.org. Sign up for the Newsletter today to receive advance notifications.
Featured image: by Kathryn Elsesser, Courtesy Oregon Truffle Festival
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