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Lolo, one of the truffle dogs that attended the dinner (Image: Naomi Tomky)

Heavenly Truffles and Fluffy Dogs: A Night at Cedarbrook

What do beautiful fluffy dogs and a luxury food item have in common? Both were on hand for Cedarbrook Lodge’s first annual Winter Truffle Experience. The event ($175 per person), which ran from 3:30 until almost ten earlier this month, was an all-inclusive celebration of the truffle — one of the most elusive, mysterious, and beloved foods in the world.

The event, the Lodge’s final “Culinary Adventure” of the year, kicked off with cooking demonstrations by culinary director Roy Breiman, executive chef Mark Bodinet, and author Susanne Carreiro of The Dog Who Ate the Truffle. Over wine, attendees watched as Breiman built warm beet-truffle salad and chestnut-truffle soup with cinnamon soft cream and honey-poached cranberries. Chef put together truffled deviled eggs and black truffle sausage en croute, while Carreiro showed her chops with chanterelle and truffle crostini and potato gnocchi with truffle. All three bantered casually, answering questions and offering cooking tips, as they assembled their dishes.

After a short break, the crowd re-convened for casual appetizers and to great the truffle dogs. Lolo and Stella, two Lagotto Romagnolo working truffle dogs worked the room, charming all the attendees with how adorable they are, while they owners talked about what great and hard workers they are. Turns out that the forests around Seattle are chock full of truffles, and these pups are the best way to seek them out.

Their owners, Nettles Farm proprietor Riley Starks and truffle hunter Alana McGee, then participated in a panel along with forager Jeremy Faber and Carreiro. The foursome discussed issues around local foraging and truffles, as well as what makes truffles so desirable (hint: they taste good!)

Finally, it was time for the main attraction: dinner.

The five-course, wine-paired meal began with celery root panna cotta, dressed with caviar and black truffles. A Dungeness crab tortellini followed, with truffle crème, roasted artichokes and guanciale. Then it was on to wild striped bass with flageolet bean cassoulet and black truffle-apricot mustard sauce. The main course was bacon-wrapped Lummi Island poulet bleu chicken with melted leeks, brown butter quince, and Bordelaise mignonette. The final act was dessert: black truffle popcorn ice cream with vanilla marshmallow and hazelnut shortbread.

The event, limited to just 40 people, was small and intimate: diners shared the table with the truffle hunters and experts from the panel, and the chef and sommelier made sure everyone had a chance to ask questions and learn about what was on the table.

While the event is over for this year, Cedarbrook Lodge offers culinary adventures throughout the year, and you can purchase Faber’s truffles from his stand at various farmers markets.