What do you think of when you hear “olive oil”? Is it watching Rachael Ray saying “EVOO” over and over again… or is it something you were taught to use way back when, only in italian recipes? Or, perhaps you’ve come to look for it, as a healthy alternative for vegetable oil. Well, have I got a treat for you 🙂
Thirty years ago, there wasn’t much to choose from at the local grocery store, except maybe one or two brand name olive oils, and a lower priced store brand. These days, seeing a large varietal selection on store shelves of every size and price point has become almost commonplace. I’m guessing you have at least a few different types in your cupboard….or is it just me? 😉 Health-wise, we’ve also come to learn that it’s a better choice for us. Take a look at this article from the Mayo Clinic about olive oil being one of the fats that are healthy for you.
Celebrate The Olive.
I had the opportunity to visit the Olive Festival in Paso Robles a couple of months ago, accompanied by longtime friend Donna and new friend Linda. Arriving at the start of the festival, held in the downtown district was exactly as I’d hoped: dozens of olive oil companies, all under tented tables, with tastings as far as the eye could see. Or, at least these eyes 😉
So many of the vendors took the time to educate the passers-by, rather than just trying to sell their wares. I learned about all types of olives, from many regions, and got to enjoy everything from buttery to peppery in a few hours’ time.
We stopped by the Olea Farm booth, which was well-stocked, and I met a man by the name of Jack Bogdonovich, who was running it. Such a nice guy! He took us on a virtual tour with the various oils, and we experienced everything from light and fruity to the true star of the show, the very unique Arbequina. A quote from Olea Farm: “The flavor of the Arbequina is like putting spring into a bottle, which is why so many chefs from the area insist on using it to highlight their Central Coast cuisine.”
I do believe they’re right!
The We Olive booth was more like an establishment! They had a private hors d’oeuvres area for the VIPs, a beautiful wooden bar area for specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings, and about a half-dozen extremely friendly, knowledgeable staff members. But there was one very unique item they had…
If you’ve never tried it before, I suggest you try this lovely concoction: Olive Oil ice cream, drizzled with a good flavored balsamic. (I chose pineapple) I never knew what a beautiful combination those would make, and had they not been handing it out to everyone walking by, I may not have tasted this treat! The blend of sweet and creamy, mixed with sweet, acidic and fruity was perfect. Yes, I said it… Perfect.
Speaking of combos…
Mix it Up.
It’s really fun (and somewhat addictive) to come up with various olive oil/balsamic vinegar flavor combos. Here are a few that really packed a punch when we were trying them:
Lime Olive Oil with Peach Balsamic
Jalapeño Olive Oil with Pineapple Balsamic
Lime Olive Oil with Pomegranate Balsamic
Jalepeño Olive Oil with Lemon Balsamic
Lemon Olive Oil with Pineapple Balsamic
Garlic Olive Oil with Lemon Balsamic
Blood Orange Olive Oil with Pomegranate Balsamic
Since I don’t use commercially made salad dressings, I’ve also made even more combos at home, often adding fresh or dried herbs to the mix.
You Did What?
Our day at the festival was wonderful, however, it was incredibly hot! While searching out a drinking fountain, we came across a young teenaged girl selling unsweetened fruit tea over ice. Considering she was the only one with beverages, she could have sold those paper cups of thirst quenchers for $5. As we approached the Lucero Olive Oil booth, the gentleman was giving out samples of a Strawberry Balsamic. Wanting to try it, I got a little wacky, and tossed the little shot of sweet balsamic acidity into my tea. The man started to ask what I was doing, and Donna merely smiled with a “she does that kind of thing all the time…” glance. I took a sip, and it was fantastic! It almost reminded me of a zinfandel, sans alcohol. Try it. Really!
This marked the day that all three of us got to try something completely unexpected, but equally delicious: Black Olive Jam from Pasolivo. Have you ever tried anything like this? Donna and Linda both had to have a jar. And, the woman who was running the shop was so nice! I also loved their packaging, which was very retro-cool.
You Little Thief!
Afterward, we mozied over to Little Thief, a child company of Lucero. Their sweet roasted garlic mustard (which I grabbed a jar of) was beyond delicious, and I was so taken with their logo that the following Monday I called them and ordered a (not even on the website yet) olive green t-shirt with the crow branding on it. Love it!
The Paso Robles Olive Festival shared quite a few olive recipes with their readers, so I thought I’d pass this one on, from the minds of the Paso Robles Culinary
Arts Academy: Pasta Puttanesca
I hope you enjoyed your virtual journey through the olive oil festival. I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes that highlight this beautiful product, or perhaps you’d like to share a combination of EVOO/Balsamic of your own. Either way, click the comment button and let me know what you think – I promise to respond 🙂