Showing posts with label olive oil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label olive oil. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fig and Olive (West Hollywood, CA)

by @btsunoda
IMG_1527 West Hollywood is one of LA’s hotspots for new cutting edge restaurants. As a result, I’ve been traveling to the area on a more frequent basis. This time it was to experience Fig and Olive on Melrose Place. Fig and Olive’s menu is largely influenced by its founder, Laurent Halasz, who grew up learning Proven├žal cuisine. They are probably best known for using exceptional olive oils.

Fig and Olive selected 22 of the finest olive oils and use them as a foundation for all of their their dishes. For them, gourmet olive oil is a central ingredient and it displaces their need for butter.

The interior of Fig and Olive is impressive. They have a huge split-level space with double-high ceilings. Instead of showing off their wine collection, they have an impressive wall display of their olive oils. Other dining areas within the restaurant are available such as their semi-private indoor patio with olive trees and rosemary plants.

Complimentary fresh rosemary focaccia bread was served with three distinctly different virgin olive oils: two were from Spain (Manzanillo and Picual); the other was a Fig Koroneiki from Greece. Of the three, my wife and I both favored the Greek olive oil. The Picual was very earthy and I was extremely surprised at the differences in taste between the three olive oils.

We began with the three crostini starter.
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The first was a prosciutto with ricotta, olives, chopped walnuts and topped with a fig. Burrata with a cherry-sized heirloom tomato and pesto was the second one we selected. Of course, I selected the octopus with hummus which was dusted with paprika. All three crostinis were tasty, but I was surprised at how well the octopus paired with the hummus.

A number of dishes were calling my name and I ended up selecting Paella del Mar.
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Celebrating California Olive Oil at Scopa (Venice, CA)

Did you know you can trust only 20% of the olive oils that you find in a supermarket?  There are a lot of fraudulent olive oils out in the market, so you have to know what you are buying. For example, you can go local and buy California olive oil. I recently attended a tasting and dinner with California Olive Ranch and tried their oils by themselves and in dishes prepared by Chef Antonia Lofaso at Scopa!

And a tip when buying olive oils in the supermarket: look for dark bottles, single country of origin, and seal of authenticity. Harvest date would be a plus, as well!

My evening started with some appetizers and cocktails, all of which feature California Olive Ranch olive oils!
Yes, the cocktail, too. The Sierra Norte was made with mezcal, aperol, serrano peppers, pineapple, and lemon, with California Olive Ranch Limited Reserve Olive Oil. The oil added a nice, unique mouthfeel to the drink.
CA Olive at Scopa
The first appetizer: Cured salmon, spring peas, toasted caraway, topped with the same olive oil as the cocktail.
Ricotta crostini
CA Olive at Scopa
Veal tartare, capers, shallots, fresh horseradish, seasoned with California Olive Ranch Mild & Buttery Olive Oil.
CA Olive at Scopa
California may be known for the almonds and wines and so on, but did you know that California also produces 95% of the olives grown in the US? There's about 27,000 acres of olive orchards in the state!

We tasted a couple of the California Olive Ranch olive oils (and a fake supermarket one!). You swirl and sip just like wine, but just like wine, olive oils can also go bad, so don't keep them in your pantry too long.
CA Olive at Scopa

Friday, November 1, 2013

Touring Artisanal Shops in Old Town Temecula

During a recent press trip to Temecula Valley Wine Country (thanks to Temecula CVB and the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association), we also got a little tour of Old Town Temecula's artisanal shops from an olive oil store, a lavender store, a sweets shop, and a spice and tea shop.

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Our first stop was Temecula Olive Oil Company. The building used to be a saloon and brothel but before the olive oil tasting we headed upstairs for breakfast first, catered by E. A. T ("Extraordinary Artisan Table"), located 5-10 minutes outside of Old Town.
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IMG_9198EAT sources ingredients from local producers and even make their own almond milk for morning coffee. We had tomatoes that were picked just the day before.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spanish Olive Oil Tasting, and a Feast at Playa

What country do you think of when you think of olive oil? Italy? Greece? How many thought of Spain? Well, Spain is in fact the number one producer of olive oil in the world. It's not just the quantity, either. Apparently the winner of the latest international olive oil contest is an olive oil from Spain.


I had gone to a Spanish Olive Oil tasting last year, but it was so much fun that when they invited me again this year, I went. The tasting was led by Alfonso Fernandez, an olive oil expert from the LA trade commissioner of Spain
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The formal tastings are done using this dark blue tasting glass, as they do not want to see the color while tasting. Perhaps they don't want to have any misconception based only on visual elements.

We tasted four of the main varietals from Spain: Arbequina, Hojiblanca, Cornicabra, and Picual. For each one, we determined whether the aroma is of ripe fruit or green fruit, and if there is any bitterness and astringency to the olive oil.

The arbequina smelled of ripe fruit (banana) and was sweet with no bitterness. There's a spiciness at the back palate as you swallow.
The Hojiblanca had a medium intensity in aroma and smelled of kiwi. There's bitterness and piquancy in this oil which is great for cooking.
The cornicabra smelled of ripe apple and bananas. It had some astringency but no bitterness and there's less spiciness which came deeper in the throat. This varietal is apparently only found in Spain.
The Picual was many people's favorite. The aroma is much more intense and smelled of green tomato. It was very bitter with some piquancy. It was much thicker. Everything about this olive oil was intense yet it was well balanced.

For more detailed tasting notes, you can see my post from last year!

The tasting was followed a lavish meal prepared by Chef John Sedlar (all incorporating olive oil, naturally). Even though we knew it would be a four course tasting menu, little did we know that each course would consist of four dishes!

Before the courses started we also had a rather big "amuse bouche" in the form of Rivera's famous flan de elote with quinoa. I've had this dish a few times at various festivals and I still fall in love with it all over again, every time.
Flan, Quinoa

The first dishes we had were served with a blend of gewurtztraminer and riesling.
Papas salsa verde, serranos, micro cilantro
Chips

Picual, fried chiles gueros, crab. The picual varietal is good for dishes with bold flavors such as this.
Chile Relleno

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tasting Spanish Olive Oil at The Bazaar: All the Things I Never Knew

Did you know that Spain is the largest olive oil producer in the world? Spain produces 52% of the worldwide olive oil while Italy produces 21%. There are 2.5 million hectares of olive trees in Spain. That's about as big as the state of Massachusetts!

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I was recently invited to a tasting of olive oils from Spain led by Alfonso Fernandez Lopez from the LA trade commissioner of Spain. Different farmers from Spain have put together their resources for this event, where I learned so much about olive oils. We tasted four olive oils and proceeded to partake in a multi-course lunch prepared by the staff of Jose Andres' The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel, with each course centered around olive oil.

I have an open bottle of olive oil in my pantry that's probably been there for months. Little did I know that an open bottle of olive oil will only maintain its full aroma and flavor for 15 days!

Tasting olive oil turns out to be as rigorous as tasting wines and there are many varietals with distinct characteristics.

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