And then there's the issue of storage. A refrigerator is good, but
the truffles' scent can permeate airtight containers, even
eggshells. Beyerle says he had to get a separate minifridge just
for truffles, and laughs. "My wife did not want truffle-flavored
Truffles will keep for a month or so, adds Larry Schramm, another
NATS member, but "they can go bad like that," he says, snapping his
fingers. "They get slimy and smelly."
We talk about the truffle-as-aphrodisiac myth. Is it true? A big,
bearlike man with a beard and wearing hiking boots, Schramm shrugs:
"I've never had anybody tackle me on the street and demand sex."
A woman in our group mentions the Joel Palmer House, a local
four-star restaurant that specializes in mushroom and truffle
cuisine. Everyone perks up at the name. Jack Czarnecki is a legend
among trufflers. Since 1997 he's operated his own restaurant in a
renovated farmhouse, in the heart of Pinot Noir country in Dayton,
Oregon. As far as truffle cuisine goes, he's the man. It's still
daylight, so I get directions and head off.
JACK CZARNECKI AND HIS WIFE, Heidi, graciously whisk me up
the steepest flight of stairs I've seen since my first apartment in
San Francisco. I check out the Joel Palmer House menu. There are
only two truffle items listed tonight - truffle beef Stroganoff and
a portobello appetizer with white truffle oil. This is very
disappointing. Could it be that the Truffle King of Oregon has
scarcely any truffles in his restaurant?
Of course not. Czarnecki soon comes by and dumps a huge ziplock bag
onto the table, filled with perhaps 30 Oregon black truffles the
size of baseballs. "These are still factories," he says, meaning
that the truffles are still alive and maturing. "The bag lets them
reabsorb their own moisture and slows down the process. It
re-creates the conditions underground when it is refrigerated." He
rummages around and hands me a big fat specimen: "That one's got a