I get emails. Stuff like "Can you recommend a good camera for me?" or "Do you know of any restaurants around here?" or "I didn’t raise you to be such a dork — please call your father today." Oops, sorry Mom. Anyway, since a few have asked for personal recommendations of food products and places to go I decided to start blogging about a few of my favorite things over the next few months (thanks for the idea, Oprah… call me!) And why not? The holidays are coming up and it’s always good to be prepared.
The year was 1996. I had just moved to San Francisco from Chicago, finally ridding myself of those long midwest winters and trading them in for even colder summers in the Bay Area. All joking aside, it was an eye-opening experience for me and one that I embraced fully. I absorbed the California experience on every level and tasted my way through the City, spending Saturday mornings at the old farmers’ market before it moved to the Ferry Building and familiarizing myself with local foods and personalities. I grew to love Peet’s coffee (trust me, it took some doing), developed a huge crush on Albert Strauss, became obsessed with Tu Lan and all its horrors and discovered what eating fresh and local was all about. Somewhere in there I discovered meyer lemons and instantly became obsessed with them. I started buying them whenever I could find them, matching them up with just about anything I could and realizing that while I may suffer from high cholesterol I will never ever develop a case of scurvy. Hallelujah!
With my meyer love affair still in full swing, I remember the first time I sampled a particular variety from O Olive Oil. Hmmm, the label said it was crushed with my lil yellow pals, but could it be good? I knew I didn’t care for "flavored" olive oils, but I took a sip anyway (a strange concept to me at the time but now I realize it’s a great way to get a complete mouthful of flavor) and felt my knees tremble and my toes tingle. I almost felt like fainting (ok I’m being overly dramatic but just go with it, k?) Holy crap, I thought, this is phenomenal stuff. And then I bought some. And them some more. And it went on tomatoes, on bread, on lox, roasted chickens and even sardines with slices of celery and pecorino. And for 10 years it’s been a staple in my kitchen. And I refuse to be without it – especially when we’re not in peak winter citrus season.
Imagine my delight when I got the sweetest email from a company who was just sending out sweet lil emails to bloggers. But it wasn’t just any company, mind you, but O Olive Oil. Now O Olive Oil needed no introduction from me — they’ve made everyone’s Top Ten, Favorite, or Awards list for several years already. And if you’ve ever tasted their oils you’ll certainly know why. They begin by hand-harvesting ripe olives from Northern California and crushing them with organic meyer lemons, Tahitian limes, blood oranges or organic jalapeños to produce a variety of amazing olive oils. Crushed, not flavored. They’ve saved my butt from dreary dressings a million times, and they always impart that wow flavor to anything I cook. And lest you think I sound like a commercial for them (nobody paid me for this!), remember that I’ve been in food marketing for many years and can tell you the O story backwards and forwards!
So there. Today I’m spreading some California love to one of my favorite products ever. You can find them online or at specialty food stores. And don’t forget their line of vinegars, too. Amazing.