Dogs love them, hogs love them and humans love them most of all. Just saying the word "truffle" has been known to raise ordinary meals into culinary experiences, and this week the Napa Valley, the mecca of culinary wonders in the North Bay, hosts the fifth annual Napa Truffle Festival Jan. 16–19.
The Truffle Festival showcases the two top species widely considered delicacies: the black winter Périgord truffle and the summer Burgundy truffle, and the world's top chefs and scientists will explore these multifaceted fungi. Friday starts right at the beginning with a day-long seminar on truffle cultivation, presented by the American Truffle Company's chief scientist Paul Thomas.
The weekend brings with it two special truffle food and wine pairings. On Saturday, dine at Peju Province Winery with chef Tony Esnault of Church & State Bistro in Los Angeles; and on Sunday enjoy truffles at St. Supery Estate with chef Roberto Donna of Al Dente Ristorante in Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, there's also the popular truffle orchard tour with a dog training demonstration at Robert Sinskey Vineyards and a breathtaking truffle and wine dinner at La Toque with not one but four Michelin star chefs on hand for a night of refined and exquisite tastes. Sunday allows you the chance to go into the field, literally, for wild mushroom foraging in the woods. Finally, Monday brings a truffle marketplace to Oxbow Market. Prices vary by activity. For more info, visit www.napatrufflefestival.com.