Olive Oil summer recipes: tomato bruschetta

There are some dishes that are ideal to feature and showcase a good olive oil: boiled potatoes, purees, bean soups (as the famous soup so typical of Tuscany, the “ribollita”), pastas, the Caprese salad, pizzas.

Bruschettas are among them. Bruschettas (which should be pronounced as “bruce (as in Bruce Lee) and kettas (and not schettas as we often hear) are a classic of that country side cuisine of Central Italy that emerged out of poverty, ingenuity and good ingredients. “Bruscare,” in the dialect of the Lazio region (where Rome is), means to roast over coals.

If you roast a piece of bread, rub a clove of garlic against it and then pour some olive oil in it, you already have a very tasty appetizer. In Italy, they’d call that a “fetunta.” Now, if you add some toppings, you have a bruschetta. Continue reading Olive Oil summer recipes: tomato bruschetta

Posted on Categories Recipes

Pacific Sun Farms awarded at Japan Olive Oil Prize

Pacific Sun Farm’s Tehama Blend was recognized with two awards at the prestigious competition, Japan Olive Oil Prize (JOOP), in Tokyo.

First, in the Intense category, it received the “Blend Special Prize.” Then, being the American olive oil that was ranked the highest, it was awarded “Best of USA.”

The competition is organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan and it has an international jury with tasters from Italy, Japan, Greece, Turkey and the US. Reknown Italian expert Dr. Pietro Paolo Arca was the panel leader of this 2017 competition. All judges taste every single entry. The olive oils with the higher score are blind tasted again a second time and the average score of both tastings provide the final score.

Many of the finest Italian olive oils participate every year in this contest, as it is the case of Dievole, Frantoio Franci, Le Tre Cologne, Gran Preggio, Intini, or Almazara de la Subética from Spain.

As much as we knew that our Tehama Blend was an excellent olive oil this year, we’re surprised and proud to have fared so well among some of the best olive oils in the world.

As we explained previously, Tehama Blend is quite an assertive olive oil with fresh, green perfumes of herbs and tomato leaf. You can read more about it here.

Once again, we’re so pleased with such strong validation of our hard work and we’re happy to share the good news with you.


Posted on Categories Awards

Learning from the Italians, part II

While re-visiting old posts, I particularly enjoyed this one.


It’s been five years since I published that post, and I’m still learning from the Italians. The photo you see here is entitled: “Tasting with Italian children at BIOL competition in Puglia and learning from them. March 2014”

Five years ago, I was in the very beginning of my career as an olive oil taster. Even when I already had years of experience in California, it was only after I took an EU official class in Sardinia and developed a relationship with the great expert Pierpaolo Arca, that I started a more indepth path, not only with tasting but with olive oil making and olive oil in general.

In all these years I witnessed my teachers, colleagues and friends from Italy never satisfied with their level of knowledge or expertise. Even when many of them were already considered among the leading experts in the world, what I saw was actually the opposite of contentment. They’ve been constantly exploring and experimenting with new machinery, technology and ideas. This would be counterintuitive in the current dominant culture defined by profitability, since Italy has been and is in a serious crisis all this time. And yet, these Italians friends have not responded to that by downsizing or playing safe to minimize costs and maximize profit. There’s something else. Continue reading Learning from the Italians, part II

Posted on Categories Tasting

Summer Cooking ~ Eggplant Parmesan

I recently read and very much enjoyed “Cod: The biography of the fish that changed the world,” by Mark Kurlansky. I knew Kurlansky from other excellent book, “Salt.” In both, he tells us about how many critical events in history happened around cod and salt and how their impact has contributed to shape our current world.

Eggplant could well deserve a book in that fashion. There’s so much history and cuisine around eggplant that there’s plenty of material for a wonderful reading. Eggplant has not been as important as cod and salt, that’s for sure. Nonetheless, it has a colorful and rich history.

Continue reading Summer Cooking ~ Eggplant Parmesan

Posted on Categories Recipes

Paring Olive Oil and Food

In the spring of 2007, while working for Apollo Olive Oil, I recorded several conversations with the late olive oil expert Marco Mugelli. They were talks on milling, tasting and olive oil history. I recently listened to the tapes.

In one of the sessions we discussed one of Marco’s favorite subjects, which was olive oil and food pairing. He often looked at the successful development of the wine industry as a possible mirror for what was ahead for our less developed, so far less successful industry.

The figure of the sommelier was something he pondered on. Before his premature and unexpected death, he was working with some wine sommeliers in order to develop a body of knowledge in terms of olive oil and food.

Some of the ideas he shared in the interviews were truly sophisticated. He would dig into very fine details. For instance, in the case of fish, he would pick a different olive oil according to the type of fish, the way the fish was cooked and taking heed of the texture of the olive oil as well.

It was fascinating to be in front of someone with such a level of expertise and by the discovery of that level of discrimination when it comes to food and cooking.

I did not grow up having conversations about food. Food in Argentina was sure tasty, though quite simple. It should be said that at that time, the collective attention food and cuisine enjoy today, was limited to smaller circles. Continue reading Paring Olive Oil and Food

Posted on Categories General, Tasting

“I think it’s varietal.” Really?!

The field of sensory analysis is a vast one and very excitingly, it’s in constant evolution. This is especially so in the case of olive oil tasting. As new technologies and new understandings are making their way and helping achieve new levels of excellence, some of the old ways are coming into question.

There’s one particular thing that I see as part of those old ways (at least in how it has been used so far) that I’d like to discuss. I run into it often, working in panels or in competitions as well. It happens (almost predictably), when at a certain point in a discussion of a subtle, not so obvious possible defect, some colleagues say that the characteristic we’re discussing is a varietal thing.

The first thing I’d like to point to is that when this conversation comes up, in the vast majority of cases, we’re in front of a mediocre or borderline olive oil. In fact, what my colleague friends are saying is that instead of what some in the group are perceiving as a defect is rather an inherent characteristic of the cultivar, even when it’s not likable.

If we follow this reasoning we should assume that this aspect we’re debating is an essential, un-modifiable element of an EVOO made with a particular variety. Therefore, we should accept it as it is. Continue reading “I think it’s varietal.” Really?!

Posted on Categories General, Tasting

Enjoying Pacific Sun Olive Oils / Eva’s Blend

When we made Eva’s Blend for first time, several years ago, we aimed at making an olive oil that would feature some specific olive oil from that season. Over time, and listening to the great chefs we work with, Eva’s Blend evolved into a finishing olive oil for fine restaurants, when the need is a versatile EVOO, of rather gentle flavors.

In these last four or five years, Eva’s Blend has consistently been of medium-mild intensity. We always made sure that even when we were looking for an olive oil of subtle flavors, it could not be just a fruity but mellow, flat olive oil. We’re convinced that olive oils of quality must have a good structure (meaning some nice bitterness and a degree of pungency) that will guarantee a decent shelf life.

In February 2016 we visited with producers, tasters and researchers in Tuscany, Italy. When they tasted Evas’ Blend all of them were positively surprised. They found this olive oil quite interesting, noting that for them it was a type of oil difficult to achieve, given the cultivars they work with. They also guessed correctly that it would be a chef favorite, being so adaptable to different needs in the kitchen.

Continue reading Enjoying Pacific Sun Olive Oils / Eva’s Blend

Tehama Blend wins Best of Show at Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition 2017

One of our olive oils has won the Best of Show at the prestigious Los Angeles International competition for second year in a row. This time it was our Tehama Blend, which won first a Gold Medal, then Best of Class and eventually was Best of Show in the robust category.

The competition had an international jury of 18 judges, from the US, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Japan.

There were 600 olive oils from 369 producers. The olive oils from California were 203, the largest number from a single place, followed by Spain and Italy.

As we mentioned in other entries, this past season has been very difficult for California producers. Discussing with colleagues from Italy and Spain, it seems that the same happened in Europe. We had to struggle with quite adverse weather patterns, rains and scarcity of olives.

This was reflected in the gold medals awarded, 131 for both domestic and international olive oils and just 21 for olive oils from California (a good number, around 14, of gold medals was given to flavored oils from California). The best of class for domestic olive oils were only 3, against 18 from abroad.

Continue reading Tehama Blend wins Best of Show at Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition 2017

Posted on Categories Awards, General, In the News

Enjoying Pacific Sun Farms Olive Oils / Organic Blend

After working a couple of years at Pacific Sun Farms an opportunity to develop an organic line came up. I was thrilled with it, for I hold organic agriculture as something of the highest importance. I defend and promote organic agriculture not only for its nutritional values, but also for the absence of pesticides, which I certainly prefer.

Organics implies a whole different food chain. It starts with a particular treatment and kind approach to the land, and traditionally ends with a shorter distribution circuit that nourishes local economies.

On top of that, I’m truly concerned with the suffering bee colonies have been undergoing (and many studies point to the abuse of pesticides).

Yet, in the case of olive oil, organic is not the most important thing. What does that mean? It means that above all, EVOO has to be a good one, and that can happen with organic or conventional crops. It’s about attention, knowledge and quality standards both in agriculture and most importantly in the milling, and organic does not even guarantee, by itself, that the olive oil is EV or a good EVOO. Continue reading Enjoying Pacific Sun Farms Olive Oils / Organic Blend