A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to feast on Oregon truffles at the Oregon Truffle Festival in the Willamette Valley: the damp, ferny, mossy region in Oregon famous for sweet, rosy pinot noir and mysterious truffles!

Willamette Valley Vineyards hosted a “truffle dog training seminar”– the only event of its kind in North America, say the organizers! Dozens of truffle hunters and their canines spent a weekend in truffle training in forests where truffles grow.

Here’s a video of Martha and her Dog Saylor!

Dog owners were able to observe the handling and training of skilled truffle dogs and to introduce their dog to the scent of both Oregon and French black truffles. This two-day event began in the classroom with lectures on canine scent detection and scent training then ended in a forest seeded with truffle spores!

I wonder, after the dogs get a whiff (and taste) of truffles, how they’ll ever be satisfied with a mere dog bone!!

Compared with Europe, Oregon’s truffle industry is young and undiscovered. “Secrecy pervades the world of truffles and is a part of their mystique, but it has not served Oregon’s truffles well, as secrecy precludes development of the knowledge necessary to bring the real potential of the Oregon truffles to market. Simple details like how to choose and handle a truffle to tease out its grandeur are known to only a few harvesters and chefs.” says the Oregon Truffle Festival Website

After the big truffle hunt, we met in the dining room at Willamette Valley Vineyards for a truffle-infused lunch cooked up by executive chef at Timberline Lodge, Jason Stoller Smith.

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