Olive Oil Tasting and Other Sensory Analysis

At a recent dinner with friends, one of them asked what I thought about a wine she brought. She assumed that because I’m an olive oil taster I’d give an authoritative opinion about it. Once I thanked her for her trust, I explained that not only am I not an expert in wine by any means; olive oil tasting and wine tasting are altogether different things.

This was not the first time I’ve been in this situation as I witnessed also the opposite: good wine tasters or winemakers assuming they can offer a solid opinion about olive oil because they’re good at wine tasting.

The core of olive oil tasting is assessing quality. That’s the most important part. The taster is trained in detecting defects and to appreciate positive attributes (fruit perfumes, bitterness and pungency). That’s the basis for evaluating EVOO.

While it is true that in sensory analysis of other products the detection of defects is an important part of it, once it’s done, the rest of the tasting is of a different nature. This is because good wines, good beer or good chocolate can have differences in their chemical composition, though this does not count as much as it counts in olive oil.

Continue reading Olive Oil Tasting and Other Sensory Analysis

News from the Mill ~ The Year of the Mission Olive

After almost two months we’re approaching the end of the milling season. As always, we’re both tired and happy. Obviously tired from many long days of hard work and happy for having endured and made good EVOO along the way.

As we explained previously, this was one of the most challenging seasons we ever had. A lighter crop, adverse weather patterns (specially the abundant rain in October and November), low yields.

On top of that, a large Australian company arrived in California and had a policy of out pricing the market and thus grabbing orchards that were working with other producers, including us. This had seriously affected us, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Nevertheless, as we say in my country, there’s not bad thing that does not bring a good thing and that, somehow happened. This year, due to the loss of some orchards and certain cultivars, we finally were able to tap into the potential of the Mission olive, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Continue reading News from the Mill ~ The Year of the Mission Olive

Posted on Categories General

Sunset Magazine Features Pacific Sun Farms Olive Oil

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Thank you to Sunset Magazine for featuring us in your January 2017 issue!

Sunset featured our Tuscan Blend, which is our most awarded olive oil. Our Tuscan Blend is currently available in 250ml and 500ml bottles.

We also have wonderful Olive Oil gifts for the holidays. Check out our gift specials

Sunset Magazine is the Western United States premiere home and lifestyle magazine with a “focus on travel destinations in the 13 Western states, home design and outdoor living ideas suited to our region, and recipes and menus that celebrate the West.”

Posted on Categories General, Our Farm

2016 – A Challenging Season

In November of 2014 we posted an entry with the same title as this one. Once again we face a similar situation that demands the use of all our talents and resources in order to meet our production needs.

Olive trees have a natural tendency to be bi-annual. If consistent and clever pruning does not take place, orchards over-produce one year and under-produce the next, as happened this time.

On top of that, the same factors we mentioned in 2014 keep defying the viability of the good value our olive oils have been known for. Climate change is one of those. Due to winters not as cold as before, trees don’t rest enough and thus became less productive. Continue reading 2016 – A Challenging Season

Posted on Categories General, Harvesting

Herb “Jam” from Chef Russell Moore

A perfect, simple recipe for enjoying olive oil: Herb Jam

This Moroccan recipe appeared first in Paula Wolfert’s book “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.” More recently chef Russell Moore enhanced it by exploring other greens and herbs. Eventually, his own versions of the herb jam became favorites at his celebrated farm to table restaurant Camino, in the Lake Merritt district of Oakland, California.

Russ, for many years the sous chef at legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley who generously opens his place for internships and for other chefs to cook with him, uses Pacific Sun Farms olive oils on a regular basis. I know firsthand that he’s been also a great teacher for younger chefs. In fact, some of them, now in other excellent restaurants or new places they’ve opened themselves, are also our clients and their work carries the spirit they learned at Camino.

I suggested to Russ to try the recipe with our Proprietor’s Select and with another Italian olive oil of a friend of mine with similar characteristics. He kindly accepted the suggestion and liked the results in both cases: “Given the fresh leafy perfumes of these fine olive oils, I found them ideal for this recipe.”

Continue reading Herb “Jam” from Chef Russell Moore

Posted on Categories General, Recipes

Black Olive Tapenade

Years ago, because of my job, I visited the Southern area of France known as the Cote d’Azur, also referred to as the French Riviera. In my free time I enjoyed visiting open air markets, and my memory of them inevitably brings the image of this bright, glowing black olive purée displayed in ceramic bowls. It was tapenade.

Some foods have the distinctive characteristic of expressing a sense of place. Tapenade is one of them. The way its ingredients blend together always reminds me of those lively markets in beautiful Nice or Antibes and of something with a long, long history.

Though olives (most of the time black olives) are the main ingredient in tapenade, the name comes from another essential Mediterranean ingredient: capers. “Tapeno” was the word for capers in the Occitan language, a Romance language spoken in Southern France and parts of bordering Italy and Spain. Continue reading Black Olive Tapenade

Posted on Categories General, Recipes

Tomato Soups for The End of Summer

We’re again at that time of the year in which tomatoes offer their best. And once again, we’re amazed how much can be done when tomatoes and olive oil get together, as we’ve shared in previous articles (Tomatoes, Again!, Tomatoes and Olive Oil: Best Friends Forever).

The simplicity of these dishes reminds us how many good things came out of making the best out of challenging times. In Italy they refer to this as “Cucina Povera” (Poor Kitchen”, or the cuisine of the humble people). Of course this was not something that happened only in Italy. Many of the great dishes from the Mediterranean, China or Brazil, just to mention the first cases that come to my mind, are a result of the creativity with which hard working people met the challenge of making the most out of what they had at hand. In most cases these people were peasants who were close to scarce though sound ingredients.

Two summer tomato soups offer testimony to that spirit. One, a Tuscan classic: Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup). The other one, Cold Tomato Soup, that with variations, you find in many places of the Mediterranean.

Two of Pacific Sun Olive Oils (Proprietor’s Select and Tehama Blend) have distinctive tomato leaf aromas, and they’ll pair nicely with both soups.

A reminder that olive oil makes lycopene—an antioxidant presents in tomatoes—much more bio-available for us. The more you drizzle these soups with olive oil, the better. And of course we recommend that you get your tomatoes from farmer’s markets or from stores that source local, fresh tomatoes.

Continue reading Tomato Soups for The End of Summer

Posted on Categories Recipes

Good news for the California Olive Oil industry

IMG_2373The Advanced Milling Seminar at Fresno State University

Last week, something truly unusual happened: a large group of millers, producers and tasters from California gathered for sharing and discussing their experiences.

The opportunity was provided at the brand new, beautiful building of the Jordan Institute at Fresno State. It was thanks to the dedicated and thoughtful efforts of organizers Kathryn Tomajan, a taster at COOC, and Vincent Ricchiuti, the Director of Operations at Enzo Olive Oil, in Clovis, California.

The Advanced Milling Seminar was such a positive surprise in terms of how easily different friendly voices in the industry could present their work and be listened and appreciated.

Many producers presented their practices and experiences including the largest in the industry such as California Olive Ranch and Corto, some smaller ones such as Pacific Sun and Temecula Olive Oil, and some even smaller such as Apollo, Massiglia and Dogtown. Given the radical differences in all of the current approaches to olive oil making, this possibility of meeting to listen to each other was something I never experienced, as it happened in such a cordial and earnest fashion. Continue reading Good news for the California Olive Oil industry

A Taste of Japanese Olive Oil

Shodo Island, (Shodoshima for the Japanese), is located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Even when its name means literally “Island of small beans” it is also known as “Olive Island”. Yes, there are olive trees in Japan. So far most of them are on this little island, and now some have recently been planted on the main island as well.

After being part of the jury for Japan Olive Oil Prize 2016, the prestigious olive oil competition held in Tokyo, I flew to the city of Takamatsu. From there I took a ferry boat-which properly displayed a giant painted olive-towards the port of Ikeda, in Shodoshima.

Continue reading A Taste of Japanese Olive Oil

Posted on Categories Awards, Milling