Though perhaps mockable on its face, there are some legitimate reasons why an Oregon-set movie about Nic Cage and his odyssey to recover his kidnapped truffle-hunting pig would be made in the first place. And that’s because our state’s truffles are flipping awesome. In fact, they are considered by many to be world class.
But since the tubers grown in Oregon soil haven’t yet achieved the same level of fame as those from Italy or France, ours are still relatively inexpensive. Believe it or not, they are pretty ubiquitous around these parts, and truly the best way to immerse yourself in the glorious world of the Oregon truffle is by attending its namesake celebration, the Oregon Truffle Festival.
We’ll get into the fungi Festivus in a moment. But first, some background on the local delicacy. Truffles are the spore-bearing fruit of fungus that develop underground in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees. In the Pacific Northwest, they tend to love Doug firs.
Oregon has four native truffle species recognized for their culinary value and harvested in the wild. They include the Oregon winter white truffle, the Oregon spring white truffle, the Oregon black truffle and the Oregon brown truffle. Truffles are actually found throughout the world, but the species that are prized for their market value originate mainly in Europe and right here in the Pacific Northwest.
The best truffles are harvested with the help of trained dogs who can identify ripe ones by scent. A truffle that is harvested before it reaches maturity will never ripen and is thus considered useless from a culinary standpoint. This is one reason why indiscriminate raking—yup, using an actual rake to scrape the ground for truffles—is frowned upon.
Armed with this knowledge and an embarrassment of riches with regard to wild edibles, Oregon developed an industry around this bounty, which produced a labor force and demand for truffles, helping facilitate their introduction into the culinary world.
Ready to see what all the buzz is about? The Oregon Truffle Festival takes place in February and March 2023, and online ticket sales went live in November. Look for updates on the festival’s website at oregontrufflefestival.org.
Here’s a rundown of what the festival has to offer:
Feb. 3-5:Truffle and Wine Events in Dundee and Newberg
Guests can expect wine and truffle lunches and dinners as well as special guests leading small forays. These events are sold à la carte.
Feb. 17-19: Truffles and Mycology Weekend in Corvallis
All events held this weekend are scheduled to take place at Oregon State University, the epicenter of truffle and mycology research in North America. The keynote speaker and lecture series go beyond truffles and expand into the realm of molds, yeasts and mushrooms. A truffle film festival kicks everything off on Friday (yes, there will be truffle popcorn!), and things wrap up on Sunday with a truffle marketplace, which includes cooking demos, truffle products to purchase and more. The Oregon Truffle Festival also hosts its Truffle Growers Forum—a two-day workshop on the process of growing European truffles (we are fortunate to have both native and cultivated truffles in Oregon).
March 3-5: Truffle Immersion on the Oregon Coast
The final weekend is an intimate, all-inclusive getaway in the Coast Range and at the Oregon Coast. You can expect truffle cooking classes, foraging, lunches and dinners.