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The Oregon Truffle Festival takes Portlanders to wine country

There is no food quite as versatile as the mushroom. The fungus can be used as an ingredient in salads or stir-fry, a main course, a drug or even as a metaphor for how to look at life as in Alice and Wonderland. The truffle can even be a collector’s item as there are some truffles that cost as much as $3000.00.

From Friday, January 22 to Sunday, January 24 Portlanders will get a chance to celebrate the mushroom at the Oregon Truffle Festival. The festival will take place in Newberg and the Yamhill Valley, and attendees will get to see cooking demonstrations, go on hunts and taste samples of the sought after and opulent Tuber.

The truffle is a special mushroom, in that it is found in close association with the roots of trees. Although they were once enjoyed by peasants in the 1700s, they became so sought after, that by the 1800’s they were available only to the very wealthy. Although we have since learned how to cultivate them, truffles are still fairly hard to come by and very expensive.

The assistance of either a pig or a dog must generally be employed when hunting for truffles. The only breed of dog officially qualified to sniff truffles is the The Lagotto Romagnolo, but any dog can be trained for the hunt. In fact, it was actually a beagle who came across New Zealand’s first burgundy truffle in 2012. Female pigs are naturally attracted to the fungus as it gives off a similar scent to boar saliva.

Attendees of the Oregon Truffle Festival will have to have done pretty well in life to be able to afford all the events that it has to offer, or they will have to take out a sizable bank loan. A weekend package for two can cost as much as what some people pay a month’s rent.

The weekend kicks off with a welcome reception at the Rose Hotel in Portland on Friday afternoon. A shuttle will then transport the lucky gourmets to Chehalem Cultural Center’s Grand Ballroom in Newberg, Oregon for the Shaved and Infused Dinner. The walk around dinner will feature a who’s who of Oregon chefs. Each chef will feature two dishes that contain Oregon grown black and white truffles. As the event takes place in wine country the fancy fungus will be paired with the perfect set of spirits.

After a good night sleep back at the Rose Hotel in Portland or a bed and breakfast in wine country, those attendees who have purchased the The Terroir of Truffles package for $500 can get up and enjoy a truffle infused breakfast which will be followed by a truffle hunt that will be led by real truffle hunters and their dogs. The hearty outdoor excursion will let the participants work up an appetite for a luncheon that will feature yet more truffles accompanied by some of our states best wines.

Saturday night will bring the Black and White Restaurant Dinner Series, which will feature Five of Yamhill Valley restaurants. Each restaurant will serve up three to five course prix fixe menus as well as appetizers. Saturday’s dinner is not included in the price of the package.

On Sunday the festival moves over to Newburg for the Newberg Fresh Truffle Marketplace. The event will feature cooking classes, food samples and a wine tasting.

Frugal attendees can get the Bring it Home package for a mere $450. The package includes a cooking class instead of the truffle hunt.

If you want to get just a little taste of the truffle you can attend The Newberg Fresh Truffle Marketplace for $15.00 or $22.00 if you want some wine with your shrooms. You can even get a commutative wine glass as a souvenir.

Other truffle related events in January will include the The Joriad 2nd Annual North American Truffle Dog Championship and a truffle festival in Eugene.

Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor

Eliza Gale - PortlandMetroLive.com ContributorEliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started www.elizagalesintervviews in 2012 and has interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.