Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Olive Oil Tasting Puts Me on Cloud Nine

Yesterday, thanks to a colleague, I did something I'd never done before--I attended an olive oil tasting. There were only three samples, but all were excellent.

The olive oil came from Cloud9 Orchard, a small family farm in Monterey County, California. The olive trees are grown without pesticides and the climate in that part of the world is perfect for olives--call it Mediterranean--or Californian. That's what makes parts of the state so ideal for viniculture as well.

Cloud9 offers three varieties of Extra Virgin olive oil: Spanish, Italian and French. They were different, but I found myself liking the spicy flavor of the Spanish best, and brought home a slender, squared-off bottle. I see more salads in my future.

The Italian and French oils recently won Silver Medals at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. According to Elizabeth, a member of the Cloud9 family who offered the tasting, the Spanish oil wasn't officially entered this year but really impressed the judges--so maybe it'll earn its own medal next year!

At the tasting, I dipped a small piece of french bread into the oil and popped it into my mouth. I chewed carefully, trying to savor the flavor. Realizing that the bread itself was very tasty, I tried small samples in teeny paper cups to isolate the flavor. As in a wine tasting, I sniffed the container first, then sampled the small amount therein.

My level of expertise is very low in olive oils, so all I can say is that all three tasted good and were also all different from each other. That's because they use different kinds of olives to make the oil. I picked up a sheet containing around 40 olive oil tasting terms, which I will study to prepare for my next tasting.

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