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Truffle in Paradise: Chefs Celebrate the Magic of Mushrooms

The beauty of truffles

As the days lengthen and darken, and the wet weather sets in, its turns a diner’s mind to mushrooms.

Truffles, actually. Those luxury ‘shrooms. The crown jewels of fungi.

In celebration of the earthy delights, truffle celebrations are popping up across the North Bay like, well, mushrooms after the rain. Two, in particular, are don’t-miss, one showcasing rare white truffles, and the other featuring the black variety.

Now is a good time to get these events on your calendars; tickets, like the truffles, are precious things and disappear quickly.

Poggio’s 7th Annual Festa Del Tartufo, Nov. 9-13: Classic Piemontese pastas and primi brim with freshly shaved Italian white truffles, in multi-course dinners at this Sausalito restaurant.

If mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms sound marvelous to you, you’ll want to participate in these feasts. Each year, executive chef Peter McNee actually travels to the Piemonte region of Alba and hunts for the ingredients himself, then presents his treasures tableside. He shares stories, too, how he gets the delicacies through customs, not an always easy feat (yes, there are truffle-sniffing dogs).

As McNee notes, the tricks is create dishes that highlight the truffles’ intense aromas without overshadowing them. That means delicate recipes like sformatino (savory, silken custard drizzled with porcini crema), or raviolo (creamy ricotta and hen's egg yolk-filled pasta with brown butter and sage.

Details: Poggio’s Festa del Tartufo Bianco, Nov. 9-13. 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito. 415-332-7771. poggiotrattoria.com.

Napa Truffle Festival, Dec. 10–12: The spotlight is on black truffles, cultivation and culinary programs, leading truffle scientists, Michelin Star chefs, fabulous food and wine pairings, a truffle orchard excursion, an epicurean market and more. All these elements gather together at this inaugural gala, held at The Westin Verasa and at restaurants across Napa.

The focus of the Festival is primarily black truffles—Tuber melanosporum (the winter, or Périgord truffle) and Tuber aestivum/uncinatum (the summer, or Burgundy truffle), which will be discussed, examined, probed, prepared, demonstrated, and finally paired with wines and feasted upon.

Black truffles

The “mushrooms and more” weekend kicks off with an opening reception at the Westin, and organized dinners at Napa restaurants. Saturday includes cultivation and culinary seminars, cooking classes, a truffle orchard tour excursion, and an elaborate Michelin Star Truffle Dinner. Sunday concludes the Festival with a Champagne Truffle Brunch, followed by an Epicurean Marketplace.

If you’ve only had truffles shaved over dishes, you’re in for a true treat. The highlight of the Festival will be a Michelin Star Truffle Dinner, hosted by Michelin Star Chef Ken Frank (La Toque) restaurant and featuring a multi-course truffle menu (each course prepared by a Michelin Star chef) and wine pairing.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime line-up. The other Michelin Star chefs, with 13 stars among them, include Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Santa Monica, CA; David Kinch of Manresa, Los Gatos, CA; Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern, New York, NY; Nancy Oakes of Boulevard, San Francisco, CA; and Sylvain Portay of Le Louis XV (Monte Carlo), Mix (Las Vegas) and Adour (NY).

The mystical start of a mushroom

Prepare to be surprised – while the menu hasn’t been announced, it’s likely we’ll see some truly creative approaches, such as truffle cocktails, and mushroom-based desserts.

In between, there will be seminars, such as The Economics of Truffle Cultivation and The Art of Wine-Truffle Pairing, plus cooking demonstrations.

Different packages are available, ranging from $850 to $1,325 per person, or you can go to just the Truffle Dinner for $475 person.

Details: Napa Truffle Festival, Dec. 10–12. Order tickets at napatrufflefestival.com.

Tip: Take your truffle trip in style, with a limo or Town Car from Pure Luxury Transportation. As members of Green Ride Global™, Pure Luxury offers the environmentally friendly way to hit the road.

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