Considered a delicacy around the globe, truffles are typically thinly shaved and then sprinkled over pasta to add an earthy flavor. Because it’s hard to grow the fungus outside of its natural habitat (primarily France, Italy, and Spain), truffles can be priced at over $3,600 a pound. But thankfully, you don’t have to go all the way to Europe to sample the tasty treasures.
In the coming weeks, you can forage for your own truffles (and try both the black and white versions) at the Oregon Truffle Festival in the Willamette Valley, an up-and-coming truffle region located an hour from Portland. Organized by a non-profit that promotes the state’s native truffle industry, the 14th annual festival (which takes place January 24–27 and February 15–17) will be helmed by an expert lineup of chefs, speakers, and foragers. Attendees can participate in hands-on foraging experiences, delectable dinners and lavish lunches, cooking classes, and a truffle marketplace—after all, what’s the point of going to a truffle festival if you can’t take some of the pungent treasures home for your friends?
The weekend kicks off with the Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship ($15) on January 24, where spectators cheer on truffle-hunting canines and their trainers as they look for scented targets. Should the occasion inspire you to train Fido, you can sign up for a two-day truffle-dog training school, which ends with a hunt in the wild where most pooches will find some truffles.
Meanwhile, the two-day Truffle Growers’ Forum will bring industry professionals and growers from around the globe together to discuss the latest research and development. Four original culinary packages are offered for the January weekend (from $240).
The February weekend explores the relationship between wine and truffles through winery luncheons, a guided tasting of wines and truffled bites, a morning truffle hunt, and a four-course truffle dinner on Sunday evening (from $90).