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First Olive Growers Festival set for Carmel Valley

10505557_798796656818003_1797003171206793180_nOctober 21, 2014 – Local growers will celebrate the early 2014 olive harvest at the 1st Annual Carmel Valley Olive Growers Fest on Saturday, November 8, 2014. “We have beautiful oils here. They can stand shoulder to shoulder with any oils in the world,” says Dr. Stephen Brabeck, proprietor of The Quail & Olive, a tasting room in Carmel Valley that will host the free event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Clearly proud of the region’s oils, which he says rivals the quality of Greek and Italian oils, Brabeck points out that Carmel Valley growers such as Belle Vue and Tres Osos have won gold medals from the California Olive Oil Council: hundreds of California growers compete for this prestigious, hard-won distinction, and it is no mean feat. Other growers to be showcased at the event are Bobcat Ridge, Carmel Valley Olive Oil, Castle Ridge, Holman Ranch, and Other Brother.

All seven will pour their oils for tasting, and will share samples of dishes made with their oils, which come from Tuscan, Ligurian and Spanish varietals. Since vinegar complements olive oil, Atascadero’s Chaparral Gardens will also be on hand to present their award-winning fruit and balsamic vinegars.

Mini seminars start at noon and include:

  • Olive Oil: Culture, History and Food
  • Olive Oil: From Tree to Table
  • Olive Oil: Medicinal Aspects
  • Vinegars: What’s it all about?

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.48.54 PMDr. Brabeck, a cardiologist, is enthusiastic about sharing information on olive oil’s medicinal properties. “Olive oil is a good, monounsaturated fat. But more importantly, it is full of bioactive compounds including polyphenols which are intensely anti-inflammatory. It’s that peppery effect when you taste olive oil, and if you don’t get that it’s probably old. Most of what is on supermarket shelves is long dead, in terms of the health benefits,” he says.

Olive oil is most nutritious when it’s at its freshest. All the oils at the fest are from the current season and are nine to 10 months old—the freshest available. (The harvest of this year’s olive crop will occur in November and December, and will be available as oil at the 2nd Annual Olive Growers Fest in 2015.)

In the vinegar session, Chaparral Gardens proprietor Craig Clark will mix “shrubs,” a Colonial era drink that is making a comeback. Shrubs are said to make a delicious and healthful soda pop that kids love, and they are also in vogue as an ingredient in cocktails.

It’s a trend lately to see olive oil used in sweet as well as savory dishes, and the fest will hold an olive oil cupcake baking contest with entries from local bakers and judging by Chef Wendy Brodie (Art of Food TV series) and Anni Willford, The Quail & Olive’s recipe blog editor. The olive oil cupcakes will be available for tasting on a first come, first served basis.

The Quail & Olive is located in the heart of Carmel Valley Village at 3 Pilot Road. For more information call 831-659-4288 or visit www.QuailandOlive.com

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About the author

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Jillian Laurel Steinberger designs softscape landscapes with natural and upcycled materials. She loves combining edible plants with California natives to boost pollination and create sublime and wondrous beauty. She works for Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping, in business in Santa Cruz for 25 years, and has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bay Area News Group papers, BUST, Bitch, Edible East Bay, and other publications. Feel free to contact her at jillian at terranovalandscaping.com.