Pacific Sun Gourmet Olive Oil Blog
Stay Informed with Pacific Sun Olive Oils
The milling season has begun and we already made the first olive oils of this year. This is arguably the best of the last four – five autumns, weather wise, to make good olive oil. We’ve had cool nights and many cool days, the fruit has ripened properly, and rain has not been excessive.
We’re once again getting into a special part of the year for us: this week we’ll start milling the first batches of Arbequina olives. I know that for many colleagues, as it is for me, our jobs are never only about making a living. We really enjoy the wonderful world of olives and olive oil, and we experience a curious passion about it. Therefore, the prospect of seeing many good olive oils being made is a natural source of excitement.
As we’re approaching the transition from summer to autumn, fresh corn is still available and I’d like to share this traditional dish from South America. It’s not only delicious; it pairs very well with EVOO.
Humita is a very old dish in the Andean countries. Corn had an important role in pre-Columbus America, and this is one of those dishes people from Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and the northwest of Argentina have been eating for centuries. It’s a close relative to Mexico’s traditional tamale dish. There are many variations of humita according to each region, province, or country; the recipe I chose is from Tucumán, Northern Argentina.
This week I had a conversation with a friend who is taking cooking classes. She asked my opinion on other vegetable oils and how they compare to olive oil. She mentioned that in her classes, olive oil was not often featured, giving room to other ‘extra virgin’ oils. First, I told her, such things don’t exist outside the realms of misleading marketing and honest confusion. Let me explain:
The Mediterranean diet is rather a vague term; there are significantly different diets in the different regions of the Mediterranean basin. It’s true that they share some common key elements, though: fresh fruit, veggies, and legumes at their cores; fish and eggs 3-4 times a week, little red meat, a glass or two of wine with meals, and olive oil as main fat. It’s worth noting that UNESCO as has declared the diet a “Heritage of Humanity”.
‘A Year in Burgundy’ is a documentary on the famous wine region of France. The documentary follows wine importer Martin Saunier, who lives and works in Northern California, visiting some of the great wine producers in Burgundy, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are originally from. Aside from enjoying getting to know this corner of France and the fascinating world of the highest quality wines, the movie made me ponder some parallel (and un-parallel) situations in the olive oil industry.
The polyphenol count of an olive oil is an important aspect of it when it comes to evaluating its goodness. Not all olive oils are alike when it comes to the polyphenol count; in fact, it’s one of the elements that most differentiates olive oils from each other.
Follow a tasting judge behind the scenes of the prestigious LA International Olive Oil Competition and discover what it takes for an olive oil to earn top prize.
Last March I visited Tuscany. Every time I go there I learn a lot. In fact, it was in Tuscany where the late Marco Mugelli -- with whom I studied -- worked to develop fascinating innovations and groundbreaking ideas for quality olive oil making. It was in one of Marco’s classes, in 2008, where I met Nico Sartori, the miller and inquisitive mind behind Altomena Olive Oil.
We’ve made it a good habit: Every year we share with you how our olive oils perform when subjected to chemical analysis in the laboratory. Even when the parameters are, in our opinion, forgiving, the results can tell a lot about the olive oil in question, its integrity and qualities.
Let’s see what happened with our recent production.
Olive oil has been an essential part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Not only is it used for dressings, bread dips, grilling and pastas, it’s used for baking. So why not include this heart-healthy ingredient in your own recipes that call for butter or margarine? To make substitution simple, we would like to share our handy butter to olive oil conversion chart with you.
On a recent visit to my native Argentina, a group of old friends gathered for a traditional “asado” (the typical BBQ) on a sunny Sunday. While the meat was cooking slowly, as the local tradition dictates, I offered some of my friends an olive oil tasting.
Recently we discussed aspects of freshness in olive oil. We also discussed Italian expert Pier Paolo Arca’s visit to California and the tasting sessions we had with him. In his view, the presence of freshness -- the vitality and durability of the positive attributes in olive oil -- is a characteristic of great olive oil.
Arca also talks about “neatness” when referring to great oils. Neatness is a clear presence of the good flavors that are not diminished or conditioned by viscosity or/and not so pleasant tastes and odors.
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral that was built over the course of three centuries (from the XII century to the XV century) in York, North East England. While it’s considered a landmark of medieval architecture, the monumental building has been experiencing deterioration, especially since the feverish industrial revolution.
Read more to find out how olive oil might stop its decay.
In our last blog entry we mentioned a recent study indicating that olive oil could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This week we learned two other benefits that regular consumption of EVOO may bring.
Last year we shared with you the details of how our olive oils performed in the chemical analysis EVOO undergoes to measure for quality.
These parameters indicate the careful creation of the olive oil in question, giving you a picture of its constitution in terms of how it was made, its durability and nutritional facts. Read on to learn about this year's oils ...
Last month, the New York Times published an article highlighting a new study that was conducted in Catalonia, Spain. The article states, “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals.”
Our milling season is finally coming to a close. Both Italy and Spain refer to milling season as “the campaign,” and this year has felt truly as such -- it’s been two and a half months of hard work. We have turned hundreds of tons of olives into olive oil.
Another year has passed. As a family-owned company dedicated to and involved with quality EVOO and its culture, we’re very happy with what we’ve accomplished during 2012.
We are half way through olive oil production this season. The weather patterns have kept the olives from ripening completely so we’ve seen lower yields and greener olive oils. But that hasn’t stopped us from making some wonderful products.
A week ago, the tasting panel at UC Davis tasted two different pairs of 2011 Pacific Sun olive oils. Each pair included a filtered and unfiltered version.
During the recent Sensory Evaluation Master Class at UC Davis, led by Italian experts Marzia Migliorini and Pierpaolo Arca, a presentation regarding the filtering of olive oil took place. This was quite interesting, considering this practice is virtually unknown to California olive oil producers.
Every fall we find ourselves enthusiastically facing the season’s challenge: during the last days of October we’ll be milling olives again!
Last year, the UC Davis Olive Center shook consumers and retailers with a study that found 70% of the imported olive oils to be defective -- not really Extra Virgin as their labels claimed.
Bread has come under attack lately due to the different gluten-free and low-carb diets that radically question its worth. I became interested in one of these diets, the Paleo Diet, since someone close to Pacific Sun, Rob Wolfe, wrote an interesting book on the subject. I know that many people have improved their health by following his diet suggestions, and I can appreciate that.
The Melis family: nine siblings -- six sisters and three brothers. Combined, the family has lived 818 years. After seven years of research throughout the five continents, Guinness World Records found that the Melis’, a family from the little village of Perdasdefogu, located in the rugged province of Ogliastra, Sardinia, is the oldest living family in the world.
While the Mediterranean may have been the hub of fine olive oil production two decades ago, Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity, believes the U.S. olive oil industry is quickly catching up (if not surpassing) foreign oil as the leader in fresh and flavorful, high-quality olive oil.
July 27th & 28th, Pacific Sun and The Olive Center at UC Davis came together to host a wonderfully in-depth class, welcoming Italian presenters Marzia Migliorini and Pierpaolo Arca. The Sensory Evaluation Master Class was a sold-out event, bringing together 60 attendees from every sector of the California olive oil industry.
Recently I traveled to Italy and the issue of attitudes and appreciation came back when, once again, I was surprised by the level of attention Italians give to their food. We all eat and enjoy tasty food though there’s something outstanding in the quality of attention Italians bring to it.
Due to the generosity of Pacific Sun, I was able to take an olive oil tasting class in Oristano, Sardinia for ten days at the beginning of June. I am excited to tell you about my wonderful learning, dining and cultural experiences in Italy!
After the articles I wrote about homemade mayonnaise were published, a couple of conversations with friends were sparked, moving me to write a bit more about the subject.
Read on to learn why we find value in eating food in its purest, simplest form.
After writing about homemade mayonnaise last week, I’ve continued to ponder the subject. Curious to learn more about commercial mayonnaise, I went to a couple of supermarkets (one in the Bay Area and one in my hometown of Chico) to study the many brands of mayonnaise available to consumers.
Almost all of the commercial mayonnaises were made with highly industrial oils such as canola, corn, soy or palm, along with what mayonaise manufacturers consider "necessary" ingredients.
Read on to learn how we use the simplest and purest ingredients to create satisfying recipes such as Olive Oil Aioli.
It was 2007 -- while I was working at Apollo Olive Oil -- when Marco Mugelli last visited us. Marco was seriously into developing a culture around pairing olive oils with food.
During one of our conversations he mentioned that a simple way to bring appreciation to this subject was with homemade mayonnaise. A French professor in Paris once taught Marco this recipe...
There are different ways to consider the profile of an olive oil and one is through certain chemical analyses. These analyses can tell quite a bit about the oil’s quality. In fact, in order to get a certification of Extra Virgin, olive oil has to undergo a set of tests in a laboratory.
Read on to learn more and see how Pacific Sun's oils measure up...
Until the food chain became highly industrialized, the concept of eating seasonally did not exist. Eating what was in season was simply the way things were. Not only did we eat what was available, we saved and stored foods like grains, cured meats, dried fruits and preserves.
Spring is here and we have plenty of fresh ingredients that pair well with olive oil: asparagus, artichokes, beets, and spinach. Let us share with you this recipe for artichokes that we’ve learned from a Southern Italian chef.
It was at beautiful Fort Mason, San Francisco where the Rhone Rangers organized their annual wine event. The celebration was a gathering of American winemakers, whose work focuses on the varietals from South West France, and wine lovers who came to enjoy the fruits of the winemaker’s labor.
The event was impeccably organized. We happily participated with our olive oils along with other artisanal food producers (cheese makers, chocolate makers, etc.) on a brisk and sunny San Francisco Sunday.
On March 17th I participated in an olive oil festival held at The Pasta Shop in Berkeley, CA. The Pasta Shop is a one-of-a-kind store where everything they carry has been carefully selected and all food items are of true excellence.
Part of the festival was a Q & A session with producers. Along with Dewey Lucero (our neighbor at Lucero Olive Oil) and Brady Whitlow from Corto Olive Oil, I took part in the panel and had a very pleasant talk with the attendees and my colleagues.
Interested in the details of our conversation regarding the valuation of olive oil? Read on.
Historically, beer and olive oil have had divergent paths. Beer flourished as a refined product mostly in Northern European countries, where butter or lard was used as an essential fat.
Not much experimentation with olive oil took place; consequently, it was not recognized as a culinary staple until very recently.
In our days, with the emergence of new olive oil regions like ours – a place without vast culinary tradition -- new opportunities are to be explored.
Read on to learn how we recently explored one of those opportunities by combining beer and olive oil to make a savory sausage dish.
Tom Muller became an instant friend of honest olive oil producers after writing his celebrated piece, “Slippery Business,” for the New Yorker Magazine back in 2006.
His new book, Extra Virginity, has renewed that friendly feeling to a point of gratitude. Finally, an articulate and passionate voice has presented the message of thousands of small and medium producers of real olive oil: we don’t play on a level field.
Winter is the ideal season to prepare thick, creamy soups out of the root vegetables we have at hand. The soups are excellent vehicles for enjoying fine olive oil.
We are happy to share a recipe that we hope will inspire you to go to the farmer’s market close to you and experiment with those veggies we don’t often cook with: turnips, Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips, to name a few.
Coming out of the demanding and at times exhausting milling season, we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Of course, cooking is one way we do this, and with the new olive oils, it is incredibly rewarding.
Let us share two simple recipes from Provence, France, which offer a good opportunity to enjoy quality olive oil. You can use them for salad dressings, dips or sauces.
Olio nuovo e vino vechio or “new oil and old wine,” as the Italian proverb goes, refers to the fact that while wine benefits from aging, olive oil does not. In fact, the younger the olive oil, the more intact its goodness and health promoting properties remain.
As with any vegetable oil, the decay of olive oil is inevitable over time. Though, if the oil is well crafted, it will carry a significant dotation of polyphenols -- the most important preserving compounds.
If you’ve had the chance to visit an olive oil mill in production, you probably know how exciting it can be to taste the fresh, pungent oil as it comes out of the centrifuge. A process that started in the olive grove just months ago comes to a delicious end right in front of you.
I don’t know why, though I do know that at any age -- and perhaps particularly when we’re children -- we find learning delightful. When we have the chance to see something from beginning to end, the pleasure we get from learning seems to become a big one.
This coming Saturday, you, your children, your family and friends have the opportunity to experience the creation of olive oil during our open house. If you care to understand the great potential it holds, you’ll see how the noble olive can yield wonderful oils bursting with nutrients and unique flavors.
Maybe you’ve heard that California is experiencing a very light olive crop this year. Perhaps one possible good use of this unfortunate event is to sharpen our appreciation for the availability of olives and olive oil in California.
As we approach what for us is one of the most significant moments of the year, the production of new olive oil, we ponder how nature works to bring precise and beautiful synchronicity to our lives, and our kitchens. Autumn harvest brings a large list of great vegetables, fruits and herbs that are ideally complimented by fresh, quality olive oil.
For a healthy diet and tasty meals, begin incorporating more olive oil into your food preparation. Whether sautéing, frying with low to medium temperatures or enjoying it uncooked, olive oil is by far the best option for culinary oil.
When you have an abundant quantity of good olive oil at a reasonable price, you’re more apt to use it generously. This will help restore home cooking, which is needed for health, pleasure and social reasons.
On August 24th, scientist, agronomist, researcher, passionate olive oil maker and teacher Marco Mugelli died in Tuscany, Italy.
As we are approaching the end of summer, some tomato varieties are reaching their peak. Field tomatoes need a good dose of warm weather and even with this unusual mild summer we’re finding great tomatoes at our farmers markets and local markets and co-ops.
This week, a group of Italian friends from the Slow Food movement visited us at Pacific Sun. After touring the olive oil mill, we had dinner at Farm Star Pizza in Chico, California. A delicious salad there inspired us to post these great summer salad ideas.
It’s a pleasure to announce that Pacific Sun’s Proprietor’s Select Ascolana Extra Virgin Olive Oil won the “Best of Show” title at this year’s Napa Valley Olive Oil competition.
Nearly three-quarters of samples of top-selling imported brands failed international standards for extra virgin olive oil according to a new report by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and in Australia.