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Creamy grits and braised greens topped with pork carnitas and microgreens at Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen . Photo by Sarah Lemon

New era of fine dining at Truffle Pig

Alumni of the restaurant widely regarded as the region’s oldest are bringing their cuisine for a new era to a hungry crowd.

Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen is the vehicle by which Shawna Williams and Skyler Golden serve the food they like to eat when and where they please. Inspired by seasonally fresh, locally grown produce and honed by the duo’s formative years at Ashland’s Omar’s, the mobile operation offers a cut above the standard food truck fare at local farmers markets and special events.

I tracked Truffle Pig across Instagram for a few months before coordinating a long-overdue lunch date with my mom and a similarly belated trip in fine weather to the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market. Unlike the trucks, carts and stalls selling tacos, falafel, Thai food and even Argentinian empanadas Thursdays in Medford’s Hawthorne Park, Truffle Pig focused largely on breakfast items. A breakfast sandwich, French toast and grits bowl composed the day’s bill of fare.

Constantly changing the menu, chef Golden highlights peak-season vegetables and fruits, just as restaurants devise weekly specials, Williams says. Fry Family Farm, Golden’s former employer, supplies much of Truffle Pig’s produce, and advance prep is done at Fry’s licensed commercial kitchen. Serving from a small stall, Truffle Pig is looking to roll out a truck, which would increase both visibility and capacity, Williams says.

Truffle Pig plays up partnerships with other local food entities, including the Applegate’s Apple Outlaw Cider and By George Farm cheese, both of which factored into the grits bowl ($11). The fig-bacon jam featured on Truffle Pig’s ham-and-egg breakfast sandwich ($12) was hard to pass up. But the combination of grits and chorizo was too much to resist, even if Golden hadn’t gilded the lily with slow-roasted pork carnitas.

I assumed the “bread pudding” French toast ($10) with candied pecans would tempt my mom, affording me a taste. But she was lured by another vendor and only had appetite for a few bites of dessert. Even if we were in a mood to browse the market’s other treats, none would have persuaded as powerfully as Truffle Pig’s coffee-bourbon crème brulee ($8), infused with beans from Griffin Creek Coffee Roasters. A touch of bourbon seemed appropriate after my Latin-Southern-fusion entree.

Impeccably vibrant microgreens brightened up the bowl of cider-braised kale and chard over creamy grits, topped with several hefty chunks of pork. The Mexican-style chorizo saturated the cornmeal with rich, savory flavor that almost overpowered the other components, including a generous grating of By George Dutchman’s Peak cheese. I had mistaken the menu’s description for dry, Spanish-style chorizo, maybe a few bits for garnish. The ground chorizo, by contrast, almost melts into eggs and other ingredients it encounters.

Creamier yet, the coffee-flavored custard came under a nicely caramelized layer of sugar. If $8 seems like a high price, the portion was larger than many restaurant ramekins. My mom and I each had more than our fill, spooned from the glass jar returned for the 75-cent deposit.

A chocolate dessert that Truffle Pig devised for this year’s Oregon Chocolate Festival first caught my attention on social media. It was one of several collaborations with Williams’ father, James Williams, longtime Omar’s executive chef and 2015’s Iron Chef of Oregon, crowned at Bite of Oregon in Portland. Golden was his sous chef for the competition.

“My dad and Skyler have worked together for a long time,” Williams says, who learned the restaurant-industry ropes at Omar’s, in business since 1947.

A restaurant-industry veteran of 17 years, Golden got his start at Omar’s before earning recognition in Austin, Texas, at the acclaimed Driskell Hotel. Since returning to Southern Oregon, he cultivated the Fry Family Farm Store’s take-home meals program but left in May. He also is pursuing qualification through The Court of Master Sommeliers.

Consulting for Truffle Pig, chef Williams assists with larger projects, such as Serra Vineyards’ Mother’s Day Brunch, Ashland Culinary Festival and The Oregon Wine Experience. Special-event menus have boasted eggs Benedict, honey-glazed pork belly, seafood-laden bouillabaisse and, fittingly, white truffle-seasoned popcorn with chives and crispy bacon.

Truffle Pig’s take on street tacos, filled with Jamaican jerk chicken and sweet potatoes, and Vietnam’s beloved banh mi sandwich are popular at local wineries, a number of which have booked the business for their wine-club pickup parties, Williams says. She and Golden also are familiar faces Friday evenings at RoxyAnn Winery in Medford.

Talent Harvest Festival, Oct. 6, will host Truffle Pig, Williams says, adding that they also have Ashland Culinary Festival, Nov. 8-11, on their calendar. Meanwhile, they’re scouting venues to offer cooking classes.

Find Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen at Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market Tuesdays at Ashland Armory and Thursdays in Medford’s Hawthorne Park. Seefacebook.com/TheTrufflePigCraftKitchen and @trufflepigcraftkitchen on Instagram. Email trufflepigcraftkitchen@gmail.com for catering and special events.

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