Nutrition, Clean Eating/Cooking

Oregon Truffle Festival 2016

“My objective with this blog is to provide readers with fun, informative tours around the world of farm fresh food, who creates it for us, why it is healthy to eat, how to best use it and where to find it.  Not an all encompassing view, just a journal of my travels to share.”  Betty Albert, Naturopath/Certified Nutritionist

2016 Oregon Truffle Festival Celebrates International and Award Winning Portland Chefs, Food Producers, Vintners, Beer Craftsmen and Authors

All three weekends in January of the 11th Annual Truffle Festival in three Oregon locations featured an all star lineup and a bounty of local, national and international chef talent showcasing truffle tasting events, gourmet gala dinners, hands-on classes and of course, the truffle hunt and dog training seminars.

The Oregon Truffle Festival is North America’s premier event for truffle appreciation and education. Held every January, the festival attracts thousands of culinary tourists, growers, dog trainers, scientists, and media from all over the globe. The event was founded in 2006 by renowned mycologist Dr. Charles K. LeFevre and his wife, Leslie Scott. Today, the team is rounded out with culinary director Charles Ruff, who has been a part of the festival since its inception. This dynamic and participatory truffle festival continues to innovate as it stays ahead of the industry growing around it. More info can be found at or on Oregon Truffle Festival’s Facebook page.IMG_0179IMG_0182

Attendees with their dogs dotted the lobby of the Eugene Hilton during the last day of the festival.   Several ticket holders of the hunt boasted a bounty of white truffle finds and called the festival “very satisfying all around”.   The Fall rains usually bring maturing truffles closer to ground surface, but this year Oregon experienced a dry fall, hence the truffles have become more accessible in a current  very wet winter. The truffle season continues through June, however more recently, hunters are finding it difficult to forage. Some of the best truffle territory is on privately-owned tree farms in the coast range. Last year the Oregon Board of Forestry began to require permits from truffle hunters and most of the large timber companies don’t offer permits for this activity or any mushrooms.

Portland’s latest wave of food and beverage authors were featured at the festival’s closing event, The Eugene Fresh Truffle Marketplace on Sunday, Jan. 31st alongside local vendors selling fresh Oregon truffles, regional wines, and artisan foods. Elias Cairo (Olympia Provisions, Portland), Christian DeBenedetti (Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery Founder and celebrated beer author) and Mark Bitterman (The Meadow) spoke, presented recent publications and lead a series of cooking and cocktail demonstrations.

The ballrooms at the Eugene Hilton were filled with  Marketplace vendors, each telling their story, giving samples, and offering education as well as their artisan products.  Infused with truffle bits and/or aroma, or booze or beer, every imaginable type of food was present including baked goods, chocolate, sauces, cheeses, oils, and as usual, even ice cream.  Truffle oil is never to be used to cook with, but as a finishing touch, and John Newman, the chef from Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach was showing off his recipe of pasta with foie gras, marsala sauce truffle oil and shavings.IMG_0194IMG_0196

In cooking, black truffles are used to refine the taste of meat, fish, soups, pasta and risotto. Unlike white truffles, the aroma of black truffles does not diminish when they are heated, but becomes more intense.

With a price of about 1,000 to 2,000 euros per kilogram ($200-$400/lb.), black truffles are the second most expensive truffles after white truffles, and one of the most sought after edible mushrooms in the world. The black truffle or black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the second-most commercially valuable species, is named after the Périgord region in France and grows with oak and hazelnut trees. Black truffles are harvested in late autumn and winter. IMG_0185IMG_0181

In December 2014, a White Alba’s Truffle weighing in at 4.16 pounds or 1.89 kilos was unearthed in the Umbrian region of Italy by the Balestra Family of Sabatino. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. While some had expected it to sell for $1 million, it was sold for $61,000 to a Taiwanese buyer.

The natural habitat of the black truffle includes various regions in Spain, France and Italy. The tradition of their cultivation, search and use goes back more than 200 years. Black truffles are now also cultivated in Australia, New Zealand, Chile and North America. Cultivation involves planting of certain tree species whose roots are inoculated with truffle mycelium or mycorrhizal. The first fruiting bodies can be harvested about four to ten years after planting  the trees.IMG_0177

There are three natural and/or cultivated varieties of  truffles in the Pacific Northwest:  white, black and French Perigord, according to mycologist Dr. LeFevre.  They grow under the Douglas fir, he said, and much research has gone into bringing them to market.  A demo at the Marketplace by Dr LeFevre illustrated an inoculation procedure to bring the truffle mycelium into roots of a tree seedling.  These trees are then sold, Dr. LeFevre related, to local growers and others.  It is rumored that even in El Dorado County an orchard grower has obtained trees, but beyond that, information is a sworn secret.

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