Today we are excited to spotlight our favorite truffle excursion opportunity: Truffle Hunting with Black Tie Tours. Owned and run by Stefan Czarnecki, Black Tie Tours is where you go when looking for the most exclusive access, hands on experience, and one-on-one time with local culinary experts. Black Tie Tours specializes in unique and customized trips, making sure each outing is the perfect experience for the particular day and group. But before we get into the details of each tour, we want you to hear in Stefan’s own words why he decided to focus on truffles.
“I wanted to start doing truffle tours,” Stefan told us, “not just because there was a demand for it, but because it’s such a wonderful thing to do in the off season. I really believe that with enough time and effort, when people think of the Willamette Valley they will think of pinot noir, and then, not far off, truffles. It’s such a mysterious and alluring natural product. There is so much mystery enshroud around them, so when someone gets a chance to experience truffle hunting first hand, they jump at it.”
Now you may be thinking, “Why Oregon?”
“Oregon is perfect for truffles,” Stefan told us, “with nice wet winters. But also keep in mind these truffles are native. They weren’t planted here. That means nature has designed them for this climate. We are also lucky, because there aren’t a lot of native truffles (anywhere) that grow in abundance, yet the Oregon white truffle is one of them. That means you have a chance to find them even as a hobbyist.”
Black Tie Tours offers two different truffle experiences: 1. The casual Rustic Truffle Tromp, and 2. The luxurious, in-depth Bougie Truffle Tromp. Both tours (of course) involve a hunt for truffles, so you can’t go wrong. Watch the truffle dogs sniff and search for these illusive gems amidst the soil, learn how to pick a potential truffle spot, and discover the inside scoop to the workings of the truffle industry.
For the Rustic Tromp, lunch includes simple but delicious soups and sandwiches, and a hike (albeit not anything extreme) with terrain a little rougher than the Bougie experience (perfect for outdoor enthusiasts).
“Pinot noir is such a natural pairing for truffles,” Stefan told us, “because it isn’t a big tannic, wine. It’s a little more subtle and sexy, and Oregon truffles are similar. The white truffles are aromatic, herbal and floral, while the black truffles are chocolaty, with mango and earthy notes. Both are going to compliment the wine. Nothing overpowers anything else.”
Tours peak in February and March, as this is the time most truffles ripen, and ripeness is of utmost importance to receive that hit of flavor truffles are famous for. That’s also why Stefan recommends hunting for truffles with a dog whenever possible.
“There are often more variables with dogs because they aren’t machines, they are living sentient beings with personalities. But hunting with dogs involves a lower risk of harvesting unripe truffles, as opposed to raking (although that is still practiced in Oregon too). And the dogs also love it! They get so excited and proud when they find the truffles, receiving love, pats, and treats. And the game of it all is fun for them.”
When asked what he thought the biggest misconception about truffle hunting was, Stefan was quick to tell us that the industry is more accessible than you think. All you need is the time and (preferably) a dog (or a friend’s dog, if they’re up for an adventure). Be careful though, once you’ve tried an Oregon truffle, you might just get hooked! Stefan’s favorite way of eating white truffles is gently shaving one over fresh pasta, or making his own truffle butter, but you can’t go wrong however you use it, as long as you let those flavors shine!
So what are you waiting for? Pack those closed toe shoes and rain jackets, and start your adventure this truffle season! Specific dates are listed on the Black Tie Tours website along with special events, including one with The Dundee Hotel! And if you’re feeling up for it, make sure to ask our front desk agents about the other truffle events happening during your stay. With restaurants to try and festivals taking place, there is no shortage of ways to experience this local delicacy!