Friday, October 7, 2011

California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, and a tasting provided by Troquet, Boston

Photo Courtesy of California Olive Ranch
Rich and creamy, fresh and fruity, light with a kick...Olive Oil wears many hats.  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to dine with some folks from the California Olive Ranch and talk about their Olive Oils.  I have, in the past, compared Olive Oil to wine in that both liquids take much of their flavor from their surroundings.  The wind, rain, and dirt that these fruits are grown in all affect the flavors that they produce, and a skilled maker of wine or Olive Oil knows how to cultivate these in their favor. 

Tasting glass
The California Olive Ranch is run by a 5th generation olive rancher, so, you could say- olives are in his blood. California Olive Ranch, began its journey about 12 years ago with the purchasing of land and trees.  The layout is similar to wine, trellis line the fields in rows and it is a careful task to prune and mulch these fruit bearers.  When the olives are ready for harvesting, which occurs each November now that the trees have matured and are producing good fruit, a well padded machine assists in the project, bringing in the olives gracefully and cushioning their ride to reduce any bruising.  The team at COR then begins the work of pressing the olives, ensuring that their oils are carefully harvested, blending what they can, preserving the rest.  They currently grow three different varietals of olives, and produce both single and mixture oils.  The outcome of this tireless effort is a pure, rich, and fresh tasting olive oil- one that of course can be used in cooking, but can also be elegantly drizzled over a finished dish to boost its luxurious qualities.  

We were treated to a wonderful tasting of the oils, and then a beautiful dinner with each dish incorporating California Olive Ranch oils.  As always, I was blown away by the different flavors that are brought forth by tasting olive oil plain- one has notes of grass, another finishes with a burst of pepper as the liquid reaches the back of your throat.  Olive Oil, beyond it's rich, buttery greeting, brings a host of flavors to the palate. It is an incredible product.

We were hosted at Troquet, located right across the street from Boston's Common. Troquet has been on my list to try for ages, and I was thrilled to be able to celebrate such a great company and try out their food.

We began our meal with Burata Ravioli, tender pillows of pasta stuffed with creamy Burata cheese, and then served with braised artichokes and an heirloom tomato fondue. The elements of this dish on their own were perfect.  The dense cheese was cut nicely with the acidity of the tomato, and the tang of the artichoke.  Bringing it to the next level though was the beautiful drizzle of olive oil that tied it all together.  The chef had used the simple Every Day olive oil, so the flavor was nicely muted allowing the other pieces of the dish to sing, but it was able to add a wonderful richness that tied it all together.

Our second course was olive oil poached salmon, topped with a paper thin olive oil fried toast, and paired with a saffron couscous enhanced with eggplant and Vadouvian spices.  The finished affect was beautifully Middle Eastern, with vibrant, smokey, and fresh flavors. The salmon was perfect, tender, and well seasoned, and was wonderful when paired with the crisp toast.  The chef utilized the Miller's Blend in this dish, a spicier, fuller flavored olive oil from the line up.  Here, the bolder olive oil stood up next to the delicate fish, complimenting it, but not overpowering.

Finally, our dessert course was presented. A Valhrona Chocolate tart filled with a black olive caramel combined with olive oil, and then served with orange ice cream.  Never before have I had a combination of both chocolate and olives, and to be honest I was a little nervous.  The end result however was the wonderful decadent sweetness of the chocolate and caramel combined, punched up with that great, salty, olive flavor.  I was truly impressed with Troquet's use of Olive Oil and their general interpretation of this menu.  

The real star of the show though was California Olive Ranch Olive Oils.  If you're like me- you've been buying the same olive oil for years- and it's probably the one you grew up with.  I urge you to give California Olive Ranch a try.  It is sold locally in Shaw's, Stop and Shop etc, and it is absolutely worth the deviation from your tried and true.     


Kristen said...

your writing so beautifully captured the experience and the flavors. well done. so great to see you!

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I'm definitely curious about that ice cream!

Kirsten Wanket said...

So very glad you had such a wonderful time! Thanks for joining us!

Kirsten Wanket
California Olive Ranch

Michelle Collins said...

Good to know about this olive oil - I love how it's so accessible. I'll definitely keep an eye out for it next time I need to buy some!

Jen said...

The meal sounds amazing. We do always buy the same olive oil, but maybe I should give COR a shot.

Anonymous said...

So good to officially meet you at Troquet. I love your post. It truly talks to the evening we had so wonderfully

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