Thursday, March 3, 2011
TASTING OLIVE OIL AT WE OLIVE
We Olive is a store dedicated to olive oil and all things olive. It's a small California chain of 10 stores that specialize in California Olive Oils. Some of the stores are company owned; others are franchised.
The Walnut Creek We Olive has been open about 18 months. Owners Christine and Miki Livitski have created a beautiful store in the older part of Walnut Creek's downtown.
Last week, I hosted a private olive oil tasting for 10 friends at the Walnut Creek store. We started our evening with hors d'oeuvres and wine.
The spreads, dips, and orange olive oil brownies (!!!) were all made with products sold at the shop. My favorite dip was a warm one made with Bacon Jam (sold in the store) and cream cheese. It was so delicious, I made it for my Academy Awards party this past Sunday.
Then we got down to the business of tasting 5 olive oils and one balsamic vinegar. Mike led the tasting, starting off with some olive oil education and then guiding us through the tasting.
He told us to look for three different taste sensations: fruit, bitterness, and pepper (or pungency). We tasted, discussed what our own taste experience was, and generally had a fun time. Our tasting sheets had notes about each oil we tasted as well as suggestions on where and how to use it.
Interestingly, this was the first time I've ever tasting olive oil without the accompaniment of bread or something else to dip in it. Pepper was the taste that I experienced most often in the oils we tasted. Others, with more trained palates, had different tasting experiences.
After the formal tasting, we had a chance to taste any of the olive oils that We Olive sells. And, of course, we could buy oil and the items sold at the store. Many of us were intrigued by We Olive's own Meyer Lemon Olive oil and Mike's suggestion to mix it 3 to 1 with their aged Balsamic Vinegar. Jim and I bought bottles of each to make our own lemon vinaigrette. Others had Mike make the mix up for them.
The cost of a private tasting like ours at the Walnut Creek We Olive, is $15 per person for a group of at least 6 people. It was such a pleasant way to spend a few hours with friends, I'm certainly going to consider having another party here.