California Olive Cultivars: Sevillano

In Andalucia, Southern Spain, there’s a large olive variety known as Gordal. The name of the olive refers to “gorda” (fat), given that these olives can reach 12 grams of weight (0.42 oz). This vigorous, slender tree is mostly planted in the province of Seville and therefore its olives are known as Gordal Sevillana (there are similar trees in Granada and Hellín, where the Gordal of Granada, a little smaller is produced, as well as the Gordal of Hellín, even smaller than the latter and used also for olive oil).

The Gordal Sevillana is exclusively used as a table olive and it’s always present in a “tapas” (small portions) menu, often stuffed with red peppers, almonds, cheese or anchovies (their large size lends itself to it). Continue reading California Olive Cultivars: Sevillano

Posted on Categories Milling, Recipes

Table Olive Recipes

At Pacific Sun Farms, along with olive oil, we produce a small amount of table olives. We use a traditional, artisanal method using brine (salt and water), that very slowly pulls the bitterness out of the olive through its pores. This process takes months, sometimes more than one year, depending on ripeness and cultivars. We cure mostly Kalamatas, Sevillanos, Manzanillos and Lucques too.
In the initial phase of the curing, sugars in the olive produce a lacto- fermentation that brings a nice flavor and great health benefits from the good bacteria (lactobacillus planctarum) that grows in it.

Nowadays, most commercial olives are cured with lye (caustic soda). This is a method favored by the industry (it takes only hours and a couple of days of rinsing) which can make good olives (basically non-bitter olives) though strips all the goodness out of the olives. Continue reading Table Olive Recipes

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 General, Milling, Recipes

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

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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