I thought that this article in the NY Times on US Truffles from Oregan would be very interesting.
By Nick Czap - Published on 7 Aug 12
"The forest air was cool and the light translucently green, sifted through the Douglas-fir canopy above and refracted by plumes of sword ferns that sprang from the forest floor. There was a muffled galumphing, a blur of golden fur, and then another, as Sasha and Ashleigh, two golden retrievers, bounded by off-leash in a kind of dog nirvana, followed closely by their owners, Kim Hickey and Erik Campen.
Recent graduates of NW Truffle Dogs, a school in Oregon City, Ore., the four were fast becoming adroit hunters of Oregon truffles, native fungi that are among the Pacific Northwest’s most prized delicacies. The dogs and their owners are also pioneers of a sort, foragers at the forefront of a movement that seeks to improve the reputation of Oregon truffles, and their value in the market, by changing the way they are harvested.
As Sasha and Ashleigh raced along, noses to the ground, in these woods, about 20 miles south of Portland, Ms. Hickey watched intently. But something in the dogs’ postures told her they were following the scent of an animal, the footfalls of a squirrel or a chipmunk. "They’re crittering", Ms. Hickey said.
Sasha, foreground, found an Oregon black truffle for her owners, Erik Campen and Kim Hickey.
Oregon is home to four known culinary truffles: Leucangium carthusianum, the Oregon black truffle; Tuber oregonense, the Oregon winter white; Tuber gibbosum, the Oregon spring white; and Kalapuya brunnea, the relatively rare Oregon brown truffle.
Harvesting the fungi, which grow beneath the forest’s mulch layer or several inches of soil, is labor intensive, a fact reflected in a retail price of about $400 a pound. Still, that is considerably less than the going rate for truffles from places like Alba, Italy, and Périgord, France, which this year commanded $4,000 and $1,600 a pound, respectively.
While European truffles have been harvested on a significant scale since the 19th century, Oregon’s truffle harvest is a relatively recent phenomenon. The industry had only just begun to germinate in 1977 when James Beard gave it a boost, declaring at a mushroom symposium that Oregon white truffles were as good as their Italian counterparts.
But the harvests in Europe and Oregon differ in another, significant respect. European foragers use dogs or pigs trained to sniff out ripe truffles, ensuring a crop of uniformly high quality; Italian law mandates the use of dogs. Most commercial foragers in Oregon harvest the fungi by raking, a method that gathers both mature and immature truffles. The problem is amplified when foragers try to beat competitors by raking for truffles progressively earlier in the growing season".
Truffles at a market in Portland.
Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/di...tml?ref=dining
"Whoever says [and hunts] truffles, utters a grand word...which awakens gastronomic ideas." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin