Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fran Gage - The New American Olive Oil

The event today went off even better than expected with a fortuitous gathering of devotees and passers-by. After having made the drive down from San Francisco, where she had earlier made an appearance on KRON Channel 4, Fran was able to appease a curious and prodding crowd with her sagacity pertaining to all things olive. Leaping and bounding through varietal sorts, growing conditions, press processes, bottling, and tasting, Fran was able to engross a crowd that pushed the limits of our seating capacity. The oil sampling lessons and olive cake at the end of the question and answer session put a definitively satisfying end to a particularly gratifying afternoon at Books Inc. in Palo Alto.

Things to remember when selecting your olive oil (not to be confused with Olive Oyl, that would have a-whole-nother set of criteria altogether):
  • Never profile your olive oil by its color...this makes no difference in quality or taste and makes you a presumptuous bigot of sorts, only joking of course.
  • Make sure it can wear an especially white dress should you decide to settle down with it (i.e. only Extra Virgin olive oil should be used to ensure flavor, quality, and to avoid oils subjected to refinement processes)
  • A darker bottle is conducive to longer shelf-life, attempt to stow it "where the sun don't shine" (i.e. your cupboard or closet)
  • A bottle of olive oil is neither a bottle of wine nor an exquisite woman, it will not attain any favorable characteristics over time, shelf life is typically 1-2 years...enjoy sooner as opposed to later, and, if need be, throw a party tonight.
  • When assessing the flavor and quality of a particular olive oil be sure to begin by warming it to approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit; then swish it around in a circular motion in an open faced container that allows for oil to breathe a bit; with nose over the brim of the container inhale deeply while attempting to identify any distinctive characteristics; proceed to imbibe the oil and let it rest on your tongue while breathing in through taught lips, allowing the air to pass over the oil while it rests on your palette; and finally swallow and exhale through your nasal passage in order to take note of any further qualities accentuated through nasal exhalation. Note: this procedure is for the aspiring connoisseur and not to be attempted by the faint of heart nor the uneducated dilettante.


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