Photo courtesy of recipemarketing.com
Meet Mike. Well, actually I don’t really know if his name is Mike. But anyway, Mike owns the We Olive store in downtown San Luis Obispo. Mike is really friendly and he will stay open late just to make sure you get to sample every kind of delicious olive oil and vinegar in his store. He will tell you all about how each kind is special and how it is uniquely grown and then pressed. Mike is like the olive oil bartender, pouring shots into tiny plastic cups, every time telling you “Now try this one! You’re gonna love this one!” There aren’t many places you can go in a town that will let you in the store to shop forty-five minutes after they officially closed and with friendliness and patience, entertain and educate you for another 30 minutes as you shop around and taste samples.
This is one of the reasons I love San Luis Obispo: There are so many unique and fun things to do in this area, yet you still have the small town feel of walking around a downtown that’s full of local shops and probably running into someone you know along the way.
Anyway, back to olive oil. I have become increasingly fond of olive oil lately and its spurred me on to learn more about this super-fruit product. The more I learn, the more I realize that you really can’t get enough of the stuff! While I do agree that there are some things that are just better with butter, like french toast or mashed potatoes, you can substitute olive oil for butter, margarine, salad dressings, and more to create a meal with healthy fats versus saturated, processed ones.
One interesting fact I’ve learned so far is that nearly half of all olive oil sold…is not pure olive oil. Unfortunately the industry has not created and enforced a standard yet, so retailers are not held accountable for selling the real stuff. Meaning, that some of the olive oil you buy, even if it says Extra Virgin, may only be part olive oil and part a mixture of other oils. And for the most part there’s no way to know which is which without tasting it. If you’re familiar with the true taste of olive oil, you might be able to pick out a fake if you notice that the taste is rather bland.
But, that is one benefit of buying olive oil at a local retailer. Usually they can tell you exactly where and when the olives were grown and they can explain to you the standards they use for making it. Plus, local growers and retailers are usually very proud of their product if they are producing it the right way and will make sure you know that what they sell is the real deal.
So anyway, last night at We Olive we ended up buying two things: A peach vinegar and a thick blackberry balsamic. Sooo good! The peach is perfect for using on meats like pork or on a summer arugula salad. Then the thick blackberry can be used on salads or even as a topping on cheesecake since it’s thick like syrup and cuts through some of the sweetness of the dessert. We decided to go back for the olive oil later on because friendly Mike told us that to avoid having to pay for a bottle in his store, we could use an empty wine bottle instead. That way you’re only paying for the oil, not the bottle every time. Pretty cool.
So, the moral of this story: Join the olive oil revolution. It’s delicious.
Here are some of my favorite ways to consume olive oil:
- Drizzle olive oil and some salt over slices of tomato and avocado. Add fresh mozzarella pieces and fresh basil leaves to make it more fancy
- Mix with a yummy balsamic and pour over salads
- On pasta along with way too much garlic and some grated cheese (probably Parmesan)
- Dip bread into olive oil and balsamic
- Make your own mayonnaise by whipping together olive oil, egg yolk, lemon juice and mustard powder
- Perfect to use on vegetables whether they are sauteed, grilled or steamed