December 31, 2002
This year the Sonoma Olive Festival started off with the Sumptuous Founder's dinner. Celebrity chefs used local olive oil to whip up spinach, olive and feta strudel, grilled New York steak on Herbed Walnut Flatbread with Dried Cranberry-Olive Relish and other olive oil inspired delicacies. The exact pairings were:
Grilled NY Steak - The Olive Press (Sevillano) Cheese Course - Remezzano (Mission/Manzanillo) Ricotta Agnolotti - (Stella Cadente Italian/mission blend) Cured Rock Shrimp - Frantoio(Arbequina) Hors d'oeurves - Apollo Salad Course - Sciabica Main Course - McEvoy(Italian) Dessert course - Odessa Tuscan Lamb Stew - Da Vero
Cheese Course - Remezzano (Mission/Manzanillo)
Ricotta Agnolotti - (Stella Cadente Italian/mission blend)
Cured Rock Shrimp - Frantoio(Arbequina)
Hors d'oeurves - Apollo
Salad Course - Sciabica
Main Course - McEvoy(Italian)
Dessert course - Odessa
Tuscan Lamb Stew - Da Vero
Blessing of the Olives
Sunny skies greeted participants and visitors at the annual blessing of the olive crop at the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma December 7th. California Olive Oil Council president Albert Katz and Olive Press owner Ed Stolman described the growth and successes of the olive oil industry in California. Gabriella Leonhard related the efforts of the Mission Olive Restoration Project volunteers. Father Aurelio Villa gave the blessing, first describing how olive oil had been used to anoint kings and athletes and to cure the sick. He encouraged the audience to become messengers of peace on this Pearl Harbor day by attaching an olive branch to their doors and living in peace with their family and neighbors. A prayer was offered in Spanish and English.
Two Crop Taste
Sonoma county wineries offered a taste of the fruit of the vine along with the fruit of the olive tree. Selected COOC olive seal recipients presented their line of oils at each winery. At Il Centro on Sonoma square Viansa olive oil was paired with Viansa wines. Joe Sebastiani of Viansa has added Tuscan varieties to existing trees at the Carneros destination winery and marketplace to now total about 900 trees.
Tasting Viansa olive oil
At Shug Winery, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines were available for tasting along with Calolea's Mission-Manzanillo oil. Michael Keller and Monica Smith described their efforts to perfect the oil from their Loma Rica area groves.
The Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves hosted Round Pond Olive oil. Owner Roslyn Taubman poured an Italian Premium Blend harvested from the young Italian orchard which consists of Frantoio, Leccino, Coratina, Pendolino, and Maurino trees. Her Spanish variety is directed toward general purpose cooking. A long-time chef with connections in the restaurant industry, she is trying to popularize her reasonably priced oils in distinctive tin containers.
Roslyn Taubman of Round Pond
Like many wineries, Benziger Family Winery has landscaped with olive trees. Employee Mike Barbitta has encouraged the family to invest in a total of 500 trees to date and has spearheaded the olive oil project. The eclectic mix of Mission, Manzanillo, Picholine, Frantoio, Coratina and Pendolino olives produced a sophisticated oil, still green from its pressing a few weeks earlier. The smartly packaged oil is currently sold only at the winery.
For more information on Sonoma Olive Festival Events, go to Sonoma County Visitors Bureau