Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen is a food truck for all seasons
Since stepping away from the kitchen to heal an injury, chef Skyler Golden has again hit his stride.
Golden’s Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen, operated with partner Shawna Williams, brings a gourmet interpretation of food truck fare to local farmers markets and special events. Underscoring each item on Golden’s modern, globally inspired menus are locally grown produce and artisan ingredients. Customers, consequently, can expect Golden’s dishes to change with the seasons.
Springtime for Truffle Pig signifies lush, leafy salads with microgreens and edible blossoms, along with cauliflower, radishes and Golden’s gamut of house-made pickles. The chef concocts creative condiments from sauces and dressings to ketchup and aioli. Although recipes lean heavily toward plant-based concepts, there’s almost always a “craft” burger in Golden’s repertoire.
Since the start of spring farmers markets, I watched Truffle Pig’s Instagram account for news of the truck’s return. But Golden and Williams were about a month behind other vendors, opening in mid-April. I finally caught up with the duo at Thursday’s Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market in Hawthorne Park and, appetite hardly sated, planned lunch around their service at Medford’s Fry Family Farm Store the following week.
Golden forged a relationship with Fry Family several years ago in the latter’s on-site commercial kitchen, where the chef formulated recipes for preserving the farm’s bounty in pickles, hot sauces and such fermented foods as kimchi, all sold in the store. Wholesome, produce-driven, take-home meals — stocked in the store’s freezer cases — also were his purview. A level-one sommelier, Golden even curated the store’s wine selections.
It comes as little surprise that wineries around the region invite Truffle Pig to cook for their release parties and live music events. The sophistication Golden brings to local estates and tasting rooms carries over into his regular menus with such items as crabcakes and seared yellowfin. Crabcakes, in particular, sold out by 11 a.m. at Truffle Pig’s first farmer’s market. It’s what everyone had for breakfast when the market opened several hours earlier, Williams joked.
So I settled for seared ahi, seasoned with the popular Japanese spice blend togarashi and served over a mixed greens salad with lemon dressing ($12). The week’s other choices included Nashville-style hot cauliflower street tacos ($10), fingerling potatoes with bacon, white truffle aioli and Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese ($8) and a burger with truffle-bacon jam, havarti cheese, arugula and truffle-peppercorn mayonnaise ($13).
I browsed the market for about 15 minutes while Truffle Pig prepared several other diners’ orders ahead of mine. My takeout box arrived with a sticker sealing it for transport. RVGCM hasn’t provided space for dining throughout the pandemic and asks customers to take their meals to go.
I weaved my way through other shoppers and claimed a spot on Hawthorne Park’s vast lawn to eat.
The salad was a riot of colors and textures topped with rosy tuna in perfectly uniform slices. Just the barest hint of seared flesh, studded with sesame seeds and chile flakes, ringed each slice, buttery and impeccably flavored and textured, without a trace of sinew. Tearing my attention away from the tuna, I speared fresh green beans, radish slices, pickled carrots and jicama from the bed of spring mix strewn with pansy petals.
Clean and crisp, the dish epitomized the season’s mild, delicate flavors. I did desire a bit more tangy vinaigrette to moisten the greens, although the pickled vegetables imparted an extra note of zest.
I vouched for the salad when my mom and sister joined me the following week at Fry Family Farm. This time, I scored the last couple of crabcakes remaining after Truffle Pig’s lunch rush. My sister favored the cauliflower tacos and — given that the order afforded one for each of us — offered bites to the group.
My mom heartily approved of the salad, executed with all the precision of the previous week’s. Repurposing some of the salad’s components, the tacos were a vegetarian delight, combining spiced, fried cauliflower, shredded cabbage and pickled vegetables on corn tortillas with dill pickle aioli. My sister, as expected, raved about the tacos, for which my mom also voiced surprising enthusiasm.
The least impressive dish, contrary to all my pining, turned out to be the crabcakes. Accustomed to Dungeness straight from the source, cooked at my parents’ South Coast home and consumed with reckless abandon, I craved more crab than these fritters contained.
Acknowledging crab as a costly ingredient that chefs often use sparingly, I still think several identifiable chunks of crustacean cut with aromatics make a far more favorable impression than shredded shellfish dispersed throughout the binding agents. Nevertheless, Golden achieved a commendable coating and crunch for the cakes, served with a silky, saffron-infused aioli and a salad resembling the tuna’s, just smaller.
Replaying dishes with slight adjustments for flavors and ingredients, Truffle Pig keeps its menu interesting for regular diners, as well as redeeming anyone who missed a popular dish the first time. The ahi paired with pickled ginger and ginger-soy dressing a week after my visit while Truffle Pig’s street tacos touted sweet potatoes as their filling. Cauliflower channeled the popular Mexican street snack “elotes” with cotija cheese and chipotle aioli.
Look for Truffle Pig’s truck from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at Fry Family Farm Store, 2184 Ross Lane, and Thursday at the growers market, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Hawthorne Park. Follow @trufflepigcraftkitchen on Instagram for special events and menus.
An Ashland restaurateur couple “just wanted to have fun again” with their latest concept.
Skout Taphouse and Provisions opened in early April at the former location of Sesame Asian Kitchen. Co-owners Tom and Lisa Beam, who also operate Ashland’s Pie + Vine, had been developing the plan for several years but put it in motion when Sesame was closed for indoor dining last winter.
Skout’s inception, says Lisa Beam, came as “some reaction to COVID.” But the larger driving forces are the Beams love of skiing and other mountain sports and the types of eateries they favor while traveling. The theme comes across in the dining room’s centerpiece: a vintage travel trailer that Beam says recalls the bygone days of an auto campground in nearby Lithia Park.
Continuing to serve Sesame’s menu for takeout and delivery through the first week of April, the Beams spent a few months rehabilitating the dining room at 21 Winburn Way and installing a tap system for 60 brews, says Beam. Skout’s menu is casual but eclectic with burgers, tacos, chili, bratwurst, salads, fish ’n’ chips and several shareable appetizers.
Seating is available in front of Skout, facing Lithia Park, and on Calle Guanajuato along Ashland Creek. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
An award-winning chef from California’s Sonoma region heads one of Medford’s newest restaurants.
Blue Royal Indian Cuisine opened April 30 for carryout and delivery, including online ordering. Occupying the former location of India’s Kitchen, 970 N. Phoenix Road in the Larson Creek Center, the restaurant boasts an extensive menu of vegetarian, chicken, seafood, lamb and goat dishes, as well as “chef’s specialties,” devised by Chef Deepak Bhardwaj, double gold medal winner at the 2007 Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
This is the first Medford restaurant for Blue Royal’s owners, who have resided in Southern Oregon for several years, said an eatery spokeswoman. Although the dining room is not open, the establishment has online job listings for servers. Call 541-773-6800.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. daily. Order at blueroyalindiancuisine.com
Customers at downtown Medford’s Beerworks can spill out on East Main Street for a table.
An expanded patio accommodates Beerworks patrons as indoor seating went on hiatus amid the latest pandemic-related precautions from the Oregon governor’s office. Beerworks cited cooperation from the city of Medford for its placement of picnic tables and awnings in public parking spaces fronting the business at 323 E. Main St.
With 12 rotating taps and hundreds of bottled and canned brews for sale, Beerworks is open from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole. dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.