The Trouble With Truffles Is That They’re Hard to Find
On the hunt for edible buried treasure in the wilds of the Beaver State.
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In Croatia in 1999, Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana—presumably named after the Greek goddess of the hunt—found one of the largest truffles on record: a 1.31-kilogram white. In Pisa, Italy, Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco found a 1.5-kilogram white truffle that brought $330,000 at auction in 2007.
The oak trees that are indigenous to the western parts of Oregon are ideal for truffle germination, making the area that encompasses Portland and Eugene prime territory for the species. So if you’re lucky enough to know someone with acreage in the cooler, wetter parts of Oregon, one of a handful of places on the planet where truffles like to live, you’ll most likely be able to find one of the six varieties of truffles that grow there if the soil, moisture levels, and tree species are just right. In that case, try contacting a professional such as the Portland area’s Anne Seward via Facebook, who with her dog Cooper will help you survey the land for hidden lairs.
But even if you don’t know any local landowners, you can still forage with a four-legged companion. Umami Truffle Dogs, whose team members include Chloe and John Getz, is a group of truffle-dog owners who offer individual forays in and around Eugene. With four expert truffle-dog teams available to take you out on private land, Umami is a reliable source for hound-hunted truffle experiences. And all the dogs will ask in return is a pat on the head, a “good dog” spoken aloud, and another piece of kibble.
Or if you’ve got a truffle dog of your own who’s raring to go muzzle-to-muzzle against worthy peers, the first-ever Joriad™ North American Truffle Dog Championship is part of this year’s Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene, Jan. 21–22.
Umami Truffle Dogs, LLC, 541-632-4105, 3003 W. 11th Ave., Eugene, Ore., 97402, www.UmamiTruffleDogs.com
Oregon Truffle Festival, P.O. Box 5275, Eugene, OR, 97405-0275, www.OregonTruffleFestival.com