By Allen Pierleoni
A truffle is a wonderful thing, its fragrance unlike any other food in nature, its flavor unique.
Truffles are rare - thus, costly, ranging from $1,800 to $2,000 a pound. Black truffles are harvested mostly in France, white truffles in Italy. They are the fruit of a specific type of wild fungus, and grow underground among the roots of certain kinds of oak and hazelnut trees. Gastronomes call them "the diamonds of the kitchen."
That said, you may want to plan for the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival, Dec. 10-12 at the Westin Verasa Hotel in Napa, its in-house restaurant La Toque, and at a few select restaurants nearby.
Involved will be lectures on the cutting-edge advancements in truffle cultivation, demonstrations, an epicurean marketplace, wine-tastings, food-and-wine-pairing seminars, brunches and lunches. The pièce de résistance will be a truffle-heavy seven-course dinner at La Toque, prepared by six restaurant chefs who between them own 13 Michelin stars.
A couple of items on the dinner menu caught our eye: duck pot au feu in black truffle nage, and Monterey Bay spot prawns with black truffles.
The festival is sponsored by the American Truffle Co. of San Francisco (www.americantruffle.com).
For tickets and more information: (707) 256-3200, www.napatrufflefestival.com.
Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni at (916) 321-1128.