Maybe it’s my Italian heritage, or maybe I’m a die-hard foodie, but I’m a devoted fan of olives and olive oil. A bowl of olives—black, green, oil cured, kalamata—is at the heart of our family gatherings and holiday celebrations. At Christmas, my mom and dad give each of us as a gift a gallon of extra virgin olive oil, and we cherish every last drop like it was liquid gold (that’s what Homer called it). Our weekend tradition of making pizza is not complete without a drizzle of olive oil and sliced black olives. My 3-year-old grandson and 1-year-old granddaughter place one olive on each finger and devour them one finger at a time. When I cook, I almost exclusively use extra virgin olive oil. I have a small bottle of olive oil in my desk at the office, too. Olive oil is symbolic of our family culture.
To be honest, I usually don’t use flavored oils or infused vinegar or dip chunks of bread in herbs drenched in olive oil. I’m a traditional extra virgin olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar kind of gal, but I was compelled to enter the eRecipeCards and O OLIVE OIL Rites of Spring Contest when I learned that the contest focused on the use of organic-citrus crushed olive oil and a specially paired barrel-aged artisan vinegar in a recipe created by each competitor meant to showcase the pairing. What’s more appealing is that the O (“O” is organic) process does not infuse or add flavors to its oils. Instead, it hand-harvests pesticide-free ripe mission olives and locally grown organic citrus, then crushes them together creating a natural flavor. Premium wine and California sunshine are sealed in oak barrels and aged over time resulting in high quality vinegar. O does not use chemicals or preservatives in this process.
I was selected as one of two dozen bloggers who received one of nine special pairings of O OLIVE OIL gourmet olive oils and barrel-aged vinegar. I received a pairing of O Clementine Olive Oil and O White Balsamic Vinegar. The pair arrived in a gift box; a natural box containing two chic glass bottles. I immediately opened the olive oil and was greeted with the most pleasant aroma. It reminded me of the orange blossoms when they’re in bloom here; just enough fragrance to know they’re in full bloom but not enough to dominate the air.
I divvied up a loaf of French bread and my husband and I went to work on dipping and tasting. The O Clementine Olive Oil was surprisingly pleasant. The oil tasted fresh, light, smooth, and clean; it did not leave a harsh after taste that I’ve experienced with some infused or flavored oils. It was ripe with flavor—just enough clementine to savor but not enough to overwhelm the rich taste of the pressed olive oil. The O White Balsamic, too, was delightful. It was mildly tart and fresh, a tad bit sweet, and it burst with flavor when it hit my tongue. I thought we would eat two or three bites each, but we ate half a loaf of bread, and later, my husband finished it off with the leftover oil and vinegar.
To learn more about O OLIVE OIL, visit them online at the O OLIVE OIL website. Learn about the history of the company, the organic-citrus and olive crush process, and the ancient Orleans process of vinegar making. While you’re there, check out the other eight oil and vinegar pairings, the gifts, and, of course, the recipes. You can also read about O’s awards and press. LIKE O OLIVE OIL on Facebook and receive the latest news, events, recipes, press, and great photos.
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Check back in the next day or two and find out what I made with O Clementine Olive Oil and O White Balsamic Vinegar. Look for it on eRecipeCards.