December 9, 2011

December 9, 2011
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Don’t forget to inhale; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

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Scene from the inaugural NV Truffle Festival; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

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La Toque’s chickpea ravioli with white truffles; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

~BOUCHON~ in Yountville has just announced a Périgord-themed dinner menu available December 14th-30th, featuring what is arguably the region’s best-known product: tuber melanosporum, the Périgord black truffle. This $80 four-course prix-fixe menu will include regional specialties like truffled consommé, poached capon with truffled mousse and chestnut purée, and a pithiviers of Cabécou cheese with truffle-prune jam. If you like your truffes piled high, this is the place for it—extra shavings can be yours for an extra $20-$25 per course. There are also specially chosen wine pairings available for $40 per person. 6534 Washington St. between Humboldt and Yount Sts., Yountville, 707-944-8037.

Save some cash to feed the addiction though, because the second annual ~NAPA VALLEY TRUFFLE FESTIVAL~ happens January 13th-16th at the Westin Verasa. Judging by the program schedule, the sequel looks to be just as exciting as the original. Barbara Fairchild, former editor in chief of Bon Appétit, will deliver the keynote address; international truffle scientists and growers will discuss the intricacies and unsolved mysteries of cultivation; Michelin-starred chefs will demonstrate proper care and handling in the kitchen, and of course cook up fabulously decadent feasts every couple of hours; attendees will tour a truffle orchard and learn how to train their own dog to sniff out the goods. After two heady days of demonstrations, discussions, and tours, the Festival culminates in a free truffle Marketplace at the Oxbow Public Market on Monday January 16th, showcasing local wines and specialty truffle products.

Several different ticket packages are available, ranging from $225 for the science-based grower-specific conferences (and no meals), all the way up to $1,250 for the all-inclusive truffle whore experience of my dreams. There are also two more modestly priced à la carte ticket options for the tasting portions of Sunday’s truffle Marketplace event: $40 for the food and wine, $25 for food only. The event website has the full program of events, and all the details on the various passes available. You can purchase online or by calling 888-753-9378.

Coinciding with the conclusion of the Truffle Festival, ~LA TOQUE~ will also kick off the 30th season of the All Truffle Menu on Monday January 16th. This five-course truffle extravaganza will be available nightly in La Toque’s dining room until the season ends, usually sometime in early March. The price and menu for this year haven’t been announced yet, but you can get a sense of what chef Ken Frank is all about with past years’ menus, available on the restaurant website. 1314 McKinstry Ave. at Soscol Ave., Napa, 707-257-5157.