In case you were wondering, my complete obsession with the truffles of the world is going strong. It's white truffle season, and I can't stop thinking about the toothsome and extremely expensive nuggets my friend at Sabatino Tartufi showed me a few weeks ago. In fact, thanks to his generosity, I'm hosting a multi-course truffle dinner fundraiser for my kids' school, and he's coming to the dinner to talk about my favorite fungi. More on that another time.
But the truffles in my kitchen this week are somewhat more local, and also somewhat more affordable. Did you know that white truffles grow in Oregon? They're not the same as European truffles, but it's not really a question of better or worse, to my mind. They have their own magical powers. And the fact that they grow right here in the U.S. continues to blow my mind.
I first discovered the Oregon whites at the Santa Monica farmers market, where the mushroom forager sometimes sells marble-sized white truffles from up north in small styrofoam containers with plastic lids. I think he got in trouble for it - Santa Monica has strict rules about "local" when it comes to selling at the markets - but they do appear sometimes, if sub rosa. I'd buy a small container, an ounce or two for $20, take them home, make some pasta or scrambled eggs, and shave the whole thing over for a luxurious lunch for one. Or two, if my husband happened to be home. I remember calling him once from the market, discovering he hadn't left for work yet, and telling him to stay right where he was until I got home with the loot.
So I met Jack Czarnecki on Twitter (@TruffleOil), which is how I ended up with the unbelievably aromatic bottle of Oregon white truffle oil pictured above. Jack, who runs the Joel Palmer House Restaurant in Dayton, Oregon, and won a James Beard Award for A Cook's Book of Mushrooms in 1996, forages for truffles. And makes this amazing Oregon white truffle oil, right in the kitchen of his restaurant. And sells cases and cases of it, every year. When I opened the bottle and put my nose above it, I was literally moved to tears. I've been drizzling it on everything: salad, pasta, scrambled eggs, toast with melted cheese. It's not that I like it more or less than the beautiful Italian stuff - it's just different. A little more forceful, somehow. Kind of like the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Corvette.
In case you're wondering what to do with Oregon white truffle oil, Jack's site has a list of possibilities. Including a non-culinary suggestion, and I'll just leave it at that - you can click through for details. But here's one recipe from his restaurant I can't wait to make. Oh, and you can buy Jack's Oregon white truffle oil online, of course - I can't imagine a better gift for a fellow food lover.
Joel Palmer House wild mushroom risotto with Oregon white truffle oil
- ½ ounce dried porcini
- 1 quart water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ lb unsalted butter
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- ½ ounce dried onion
- Grated parmesan cheese
- 2 ounces Joel Palmer House Oregon White Truffle Oil
In a medium sauté pan melt the butter and add the dried onion and rice. Stir for 1 minute, then add the reserved mushroom liquid. Cook uncovered and stir gently until water is absorbed and evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.
Portion rice, drizzle lightly with Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, and serve. Serves 10 as a small starter or 4 for a main course.