Friday, October 23, 2009
This week I attended Food Fete's Oregon Food and Beverage Show and was impressed with the diversity of quality that can be found coming from that bountiful state. One of the highlights for me was meeting and talking with Jack Czarnecki and his wife Heidi from Joel Palmer House (in Dayton, Oregon), a restaurant that also produces Oregon White Truffle Oil (Jack hunts for the truffles with his son, Chris).
His truffle oils are produced naturally and either Jack or Chris picks every truffle that appears on a customers’ plate.
Here’s a mini lesson in truffles.
Oregon Truffles are fungi that grow just below the duff surface (decaying vegetation) on forest floors along the roots of the Douglas Fir tree. They are similar to mushrooms except they grow underground and don’t have a root system.
Truffles emit gases that have evolved perfectly in order to attract animals that eat the truffles, pass the spores and ultimately perpetuate its kind. And it’s that same muskiness that attracts the human animal.
Truffles are traditionally harvested in Europe by pigs and dogs. Pigs are attracted to a pheromone present in the truffles and dogs are trained to find the scent.
Truffles flavor is not nearly as intense as the aroma, which is actually a released gas. Truffle oil is probably a better way to experience the sensations that truffles have to offer.
Above photo of Jack & Heidi, photo at left is delicious mushroom stuffed prosciutto with white truffle oil.
Jack gave me a sample bottle, which I used to make a delicious Tataki Mushroom Risotto, with Shallots, White Truffle Oil, Black Pepper and Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese.
It was the fifth time I attempted making risotto, the first four being unsuccessful. I guess the fifth is the charm… or it could be the Truffle Oil. (Thought bubble:) hmmmm, there’s that pine forest in Forest Park in my neighborhood where the ground is covered with “duff”, I wonder if I can find any truffles there? Anybody have a pig I can rent by-the-day?