Celebrating the celebrated – the gift of Oregon truffles

Photo of the interior of Sybaris Bistro and patrons enjoying dinner in Albany Oregon

What is the perfect holiday present for a foodie friend? We suggest a gift certificate to one of our celebrated restaurants where Oregon truffles and Willamette Valley wine and spirits intersect. At Sybaris Bistro, Chef Matt Bennett creates dishes worthy of the James Beard House. So don’t journey afar to dine on sublime — visit Albany and celebrate the rest of the season in January and February.

Once your friends (and hopefully you) receive their gift certificates, stay tuned for 2020’s Oregon truffle bounty at Sybaris. Telephone 541-928-8157 to secure a gift certificate.

You can read about their 2019 Oregon Truffle Feast in the blog-post below.

Historical appreciation

What do wild Oregon-grown truffles have in common with James Beard and Albany, Oregon? Quite a bit as it turns out—and the 2019 Oregon Truffle Feast at Sybaris Bistro illustrates the connection perfectly.

Photo showing food from the kitchen being placed onto the hot plate for wait staff at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonMaster chef James Beard was a writer, teacher, and champion of American cuisine. Born in Portland, Oregon, Beard was a big fan of Oregon’s truffles, that at times were dismissed by European chefs as “false truffles.”

Beard was still a young cook when he established his home and career in New York City. He authored cookbooks, became a television cooking show personality, and opened a cooking school in Manhattan (as well as Seaside, Oregon). In the 1950s he was dubbed “… the face and belly of American gastronomy,” as noted by David Kamp in The United States of Arugula.

Beard’s legacy for cooking with fresh local and seasonal ingredients was handed down to many a talented chef after he passed away in 1985. His personal home in New York City became part of a working foundation that showcases talented chefs and regional American cooking.

To cook at James Beard House is an honor for chefs—and Sybaris Bistro’s owner, Matt Bennett, is no exception.

An Oregon Truffle Feast

Chef Bennett was invited for his third appearance at Beard House this past January, where he served his unique interpretation of Pacific Northwest Cuisine—building a seven course menu featuring wild Oregon truffles.

In preparation for the New York dinner, Bennett and his team prepared and hosted two Albany, Oregon-based suppers to coincide with Oregon’s Truffle Festival. Both dinners were sold out almost as soon as they were announced.

Menus for the Albany and James Beard House dinners were similar with minor variations. They both featured a series of gastronomical delights such as hazelnut foie gras with black truffle, black truffle miso marinated black cod, double white truffle pheasant breast with truffle buttered cabbage, and the pièce de résistance: a black truffle pot de creme with hazelnut oil gelato and truffle and hazelnut streusel.

All ingredients, including wine pairings, were sourced by Bennett, his wife Janel and the Sybaris staff. They were transported by the bistro team in coolers shipped in place of personal luggage. Carefully watched over and guarded, the truffles, black cod, pheasant, Dungeness crab and Oregon-grown vegetables safely arrived in New York.

A local culinary genius

Photo of plates of truffle infused menu items sitting on the hot plate at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonAVA was lucky enough to have a seat at Sybaris’ truffle feast. Chef Bennett regaled diners with tales about Oregon truffles, the reasons behind the menu he created, and a bit about James Beard’s gastronomical history and the famous house where his truffle feast was to be featured.

We delighted not only in Sybaris’ ambience, with its enormous fireplace and cozy crackling fire, exposed brick walls, plank tables, starched napkins and stellar tableside service, but in chef’s creativity and delicious sense of humor.

A sometimes overlooked ingredient (pig’s foot!) was used to construct a sausage-like croquette with wild mushrooms and white truffle verjus. Bennett’s unusual selection was a bit of tongue in cheek homage to the French method that utilizes pigs to harvest truffles. Bennett is well known for his dishes that are metaphors for their inspiration as well as their roots.

Photo of the interior of Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonSybaris Bistro’s dinner menus change monthly, featuring locally sourced fresh ingredients in season. It’s no wonder Bennett captured the attention of the James Beard Foundation—he warm-heartedly embraces the core Beard value to cook with what is available within reach.

If you want to experience Sybaris in a Beard-like manner, stay tuned to their Facebook and website. Bennett and his culinary team create special themed dinners to celebrate holidays with limited dining events such as “A Dickens Dinner” or Valentines Day. These menus typically feature multiple courses with additional wine pairings. They’re a great way to jump into Bennett’s “style de cuisine” and either celebrate the end to an extended weekend or start one out.

Whatever draws you to Albany, a visit to Sybaris Bistro in 2020 should definitely be part of your travel itinerary.

*Blog content copyright 2019 by AVA, written by Maddie MacGregor. All photos (except for Chef Bennett profile), by AO Films.

What to know if you go

Photo of two women drinking wine and laughing at Sybaris Bistro in Albany OregonAlthough not required for regular dinner service, reservations are advised. Sybaris is enormously popular with the locals as much as with culinary travelers. Specially themed dinner events almost always sell out ahead of time, so make those reservations early.

Sybaris is located at 442 First Ave W, in Albany, Oregon. The bistro is closed Sundays and Mondays, and open from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Telephone 541-928-8157 for reservations or to purchase a gift certificate. Check out the monthly menus (gluten-free included) on their website at https://sybarisbistro.com.

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