Saturday, September 15, 2018

Our Latest Obsession ... Olive Oil

Ode to Oleoestepa

During our recent trip to Spain this last spring, we were offered bread and olive oil for dipping at many of the restaurants we dined at.  As soon as that olive oil hit our lips, we were in ecstasy, "Mmmm-ing" our delight to each other.  Spain has fantastic olive oil!

You would expect such fabulous tasting olive oil from a Mediterranean country known for its olives.  Olive tree groves were everywhere, competing for space with the many vineyards, and often growing side-by-side with them.

Spain grows some of the best olives and produces some of the finest olive oil in the entire world.  We'll let others quibble over which country's is the best -- Italy, Greece or Spain.  It's not for us to take sides ... especially since we are definitely biased.

But we will say that we fell in love with one particular brand above the rest.  It was unanimous ... Oleoestepa was the winner!

That's saying something from a family which grew up on olive oil and slathered it on everything!

Pressed from Arbequina and Hojiblanca olives, it was one of the most extraordinary olive oils we had ever tasted.

Luckily, we encountered it in many of the places where we dined, no doubt because many others like it, too.

It was the brand used in all the Paradores we stayed at in Spain, and it came in various varieties that we just had to keep comparing over and over again ... in order to determine which one was really our favorite, of course!

"The green label is lighter and grassier ..."
"The red label is fruitier and less bitter ..."
"The black label is more complex and intense ..."

Truth was, we loved them all.

Unfortunately, our luggage was already over the weight limit with more bottles of wine than I'd like to admit, so we had no room to accommodate even a few bottles of our precious olive oil.  But each one of us individually decided that we were going to hunt down that brand from a local supplier just as soon as we got home.  And that's exactly what we did!  Each of us, unbeknownst to the others, procured several bottles of the delicious extra-virgin olive oil.  We had intended to share them with each other, so imagine our surprise to discover that we now had an abundance of bottles of the heavenly stuff to go around!

I was so proud of myself for having found them, but that sense of pride soon turned into laughter when my niece sent a text photo proudly displaying the bottles she had already purchased herself!  We were all after this liquid gold that we had fallen in love with in Spain.

Full disclosure: We are not associated with this company in any way, nor do we earn any commission if you buy this olive oil or any other product (besides our own books) that I mention in this blog.  I'm not even going to tell you where you can purchase it, although you should be able to find it fairly easily if you try.  The point of this article is not to try to convince you that this is the best olive oil in the entire world.  It is only the olive oil that we happen to prefer (at this time).  The point of the story is to encourage you to find the things that delight you and make it part of your life, too!

That's one of the best things about traveling ... trying new foods and finding new products that become a part of your life.

Beautiful slices of homegrown tomatoes just
waiting to be perfectly dressed for dinner
While in England, one must sample a pasty, some fish and chips, roast beef and yorkshire pudding, or just some good 'ole down-to-earth pub grub.

What would a trip to New Orleans be without beignets, a po'boy or muffaletta, or dining at Brennan's, Commander's Palace, or one of Emeril Lagasse's fine restaurants?

What would a trip to Cape Cod be without a clam bake or lobster roll?

How could you go to Vermont and not buy some maple syrup to bring back home with you?  You can't ... it's simply not possible.

Food and travel go hand-in-hand, as we all know from watching Anthony Bourdain or A Cook Abroad.  It is one of the most delightful things about taking a trip somewhere -- being introduced to new foods and new products that become a part of us, a part of our lives.  We are forever changed by our travels ... usually in only the most positive ways.

All that these tomatoes need to put them over-the-top
crazy-delicious is a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle
of the best-tasting olive oil you can find!  Amazing!
I now have a favorite olive oil that I love to use on everything.  I have bottles of wine that were brought back from travels to Spain and Italy.  There are candy bars and snacks I first tasted in England, had raclette for the first time on a ski trip with friends on the Swiss border, and I can't forget my obsession with macarons when I was in France.

Discovery is one of the best things about travel, and through the magic of online shopping and international shipping, we can easily bring these delightful finds into our homes even if they don't fit in our suitcase!

If you can't afford a trip right now, you could just as easily go on a journey of discovery in your own neighborhood.  Visit some local imported cheese shops or international food markets.  We used to have the most adorable little British gift shop in Boulder (sadly, no more), full of tea sets, greeting cards, and imported English foods that I used to love to peruse and would pick up the most delightful items at.  Many towns have Latin, Asian, Indian, Italian or Middle Eastern grocery stores, and you should make it a point to check them out to see what unique and interesting things you can sample from each.  It really can be like taking a mini-vacation without ever leaving your hometown.

Or you can find just about anything online and have your own sampling sessions at home.  I recently saw an ad for a monthly delivery subscription service of a box filled with international snack items, which I thought was absolutely brilliant!  I wouldn't mind receiving a box full of exotic goodies sent to me every month to check out.  (Oh, dear ... there goes the diet again!)

I once subscribed to a cheese-of-the-month club, and nothing made me happier than receiving a package of different cheeses to sample every 30 days.  Why not invite the girls over to enjoy them with you, or share them at the next book club meeting?  One doesn't have to be decadent in order to enjoy a little indulgence.

But for now, my obsession is olive oil.  A friend recently sent me a link to an olive oil cake recipe, also popular in Spain, that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.  I think I'll need to make it soon.  Even my soap, moisturizers and some facial cleansing products are made with olive oil ... that's how passionate I am about it!

Whether it's cheese, wine or olive oil, it's always nice to be able to bring a little bit of our travels back home with us.

I hope you have a journey of joyful discoveries to take home with you at the end of your day, as well!  Joyful travels to you!


Enjoy previous fall seasonal blog posts:

Happy Labor Day!
Ana's prize-winning
1st Place French Apple Pie & her 2nd Place Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie!
National Coffee Day September 29th is the day to perk up! Have a Mocha Milk Punch from us
We're Jammin'
When the harvest is bountiful ...
Harvest Time
There's nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own food
Top Chef - Colorado
A celebrity in the family!
Family Heritage Tour
A trip back to the old country in search of the abuelos
Of Natural Disasters and Charity
A humbling reminder that nature is in charge, despite our best-laid plans
My sister's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv.
Heirloom tomatoes ... the ugly ducklings that are really the beautiful swans of tomatoes
Fruit-Infused Waters
Well beyond lemon, refreshing flavored waters for summer
Sunshine In A Jar
Preserved lemons are a game-changer!
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea
The Icing on the Cake
Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
Wine Poached Pears
Perfect for fall, perfect for dessert, perfect on a cheese board, perfect in a gallette!
Pear Tart, Part Deux 
There's a time for rustic, and a time for elegant.
Fall Has Arrived
And we've got apples!
October Planning
Time to make lists ... menus, recipes, family reunions, Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, parties, special events, carving time on the calendar.
Recipes for the Season
Update your repertoire with some new recipes for Fall!
Bucket List for Fall
Taking advantage of everything fall has to offer!
Back to the Farm
Fall is the time to head to the farm to pick pumpkins, visit the animals, go on a hayride, and sip hot cocoa by a bonfire.
Brandied Fruit 
Time to put up your Brandied Fruit to marinate and mellow in time for the Holidays
Spine-Chilling Reads
Some good, scary books to curl up with on fright-night!
Tea Superstitions
Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble
Halloween Traditions
From pumpkin carving to hot apple cider, family traditions make holidays memorable!
Happy Halloween 
Making the holiday fun.

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