Ahhhh – Denissimo

This last Friday, we introduced the newest balsamic to our line of premium cooking ingredients and boy, is it wonderful.

As we were preparing for its arrival, I’d read a lot about its flavor profile, how it’s made, and what it compares to. But nothing prepared me for the first taste. It’s very dense, like a good reduction or warm honey. And sweet, not cloying or sugary but a sweetness that comes from age, from years of hanging out in wooden casks. Like the sweetness of a good Port or a Sauterne. As it reaches the different parts of my mouth, I tasted a hint of black cherry, a whiff of dark chocolate, a suggestion of fig. Another taste played slightly differently – raisins and maybe a little malt. Each time I added a drop to my tongue, it opened up a new experience.

I haven’t entertained with it yet but I’m looking forward to the holidays when I can wow my guests by simply drizzling a little Denissimo over cheese or grilled meat or a fancy dessert. Its presence raises a simple dish from every day to delightful. Though I won’t tell anyone how easy it was, that will be our secret.

Stop by one of our stores for a taste. But you better hurry, it has limited availability and it’s going fast.


Stress Free Business Gifts

In a previous life, I worked in corporate America and often found myself in a position where I purchased gifts – for clients, for my team – usually around a product launch or a holiday. I enjoyed the task but it was time-consuming. In my experience, there aren’t a lot of quality goods in the marketplace that appeal to a broad spectrum of people.

Here at F. Oliver’s, we work with a lot of organizations to find the right gift for their employees and clients. Having been on the other side of the equation, I love what we can provide. And this holiday season is particularly exciting as we have a range of gift boxes, sampler packs, local specialty foods, and some very exciting new products.

What I like best, though, is how stress-free we make the process. Companies can contact us with basic information about their business, the recipients, and some idea of their budget and we’ll return with great ideas that people love. We can add a movie to our Popcorn Lover’s Kit so employees can enjoy movie night at home; our Finger Lakes Favorites celebrates local flavors; a spice mill and a gift pack of fresh, whole spices bring the aroma of far-flung marketplaces to the kitchen. Had I an F. Oliver’s in my gift giving days, my task would have been so much easier.

Do you need help choosing the right business gift this holiday season? Just call one of our gift consultants at any of our four locations and we’ll make it a holiday to remember. 

 


Cranberry Pear Glazed Carrots

Cranberry Pear Glazed Carrots
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. F. Oliver’s Finger Lakes Fabulous Squash Seed Oil
  • ¼ c. F. Oliver’s Cranberry Pear Balsamic
  • 12 Carrots peeled
  • ¼ c. chopped parsley
  • 2 tsps. F. Oliver’s Himalayan Pink Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1½-inch-thick slices. Toss them in a bowl with the Squash Seed Oil and Cranberry Pear Balsamic.
  3. Transfer to a sheet pan in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.
  4. Toss the carrots with parsley, season with Himalayan Pink Salt, and serve.
 


Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken & Potatoes
 
Ingredients
  • 8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 pounds baby potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Tuscan Garden Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons F. Oliver’s Lemon Peel Zest
  • 2 tablespoons F. Oliver’s Orchard Ripe Red Apple Balsamic
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange chicken (skin side up), potatoes and capers in a glass 13x9 baking dish. Drizzle with EVOO then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lemon peel zest on chicken.
  3. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic. Return to oven and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and potatoes fully cooked.
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley.
 

 


Autumn Barley Salad

Autumn Barley Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 tablespoon F. Oliver’s mulling spices (wrapped in cheesecloth & tied)
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons F. Oliver’s Sage with Wild Harvest Mushroom EVOO, divided 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium sized apple, diced
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons F. Oliver’s Sunday Morning Maple Balsamic
  • Shaved fontina cheese, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized saucepan add barley, onion, half of the garlic, mulling spices in cheesecloth bag, and a touch of salt, and cook according to package directions. Remove cheesecloth bag when barley is cooked.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon Sage with Wild Harvest Mushroom EVOO in small sauté pan. Add garlic and mushrooms; sauté until cooked through and season to taste with salt. Stir in diced apples, cover, and remove from heat.
  3. Place Sunday Morning Maple Balsamic Vinegar in the bottom of a small bowl, slowly drizzle in remaining Sage with Wild Harvest Mushroom EVOO, and season to taste.
  4. In another bowl, add barley and mushroom mixtures and fold together. Drizzle vinaigrette over and fold to coat. Top with shaved cheese and enjoy at room temperature, cold, or warmed.

The F. Oliver’s / Owl House Dinner

F. Oliver’s Pairing Dinner – Monday, August 28th

Dinner $50, optional cocktail pairing $15

Call The Owl House for Reservations 585-360-2920

A vegetarian option is available by reserving 72 hours in advance.

Course I
Charred bread, housemade ricotta, F. Oliver’s Meyer Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
F. Oliver’s Summer Blueberry Balsamic reduction
– – – – – – – – – –
Martini – Gin, French vermouth, F. Oliver’s Arbosana Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Course II
F. Oliver’s Tunisian Harissa Extra Virgin Olive Oil poached grilled octopus with smoked pineapple, charnuska seed, F. Oliver’s Creamy Coconut Balsamic gastrique
– – – – – – – – – –
El Diablo – Tequila, lime, F. Oliver’s Mediterranean Cassis Balsamic shrub, seltzer

Course III
Sumac & Aleppo Pepper rubbed beef tenderloin, citrus yogurt, radish, pickled shallot,
F. Oliver’s Petit Beurre Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– – – – – – – – – –
Daiquiri – Rum, Lime, Sugar, F. Oliver’s Petit Burre Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Course IV
F. Oliver’s Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil cake with vanilla ice cream & F. Oliver’s Dark
Chocolate Balsamic hot fudge
– – – – – – – – – –
Cocchi Dopo Teatro & F. Oliver’s Boort Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A Tale of Two Picuals

It was the best of times, it was the best of times. Apologies to Dickens but we’re lucky to have two incredible examples of the Picual olive in two very different ultra-premium extra-virgin olive oils (EVOOs).

Two independent producers created equally fabulous but different EVOOs.  One is a family business, the other founded by two friends from university. One is from Chile, the other, Australia. Here is the story of our two Picuals.

The Alonso Estate 

Alonso Olive Oil is based in the O’Higgins region of Chile, an area the Alonso family chose because of its Mediterranean-like climate. Headed by Don Abel Alonso, the family cultivates over seven olive varietals, each perfectly suited to the soil and climate of the estate.

The Alonso Family Olive Estate in Chile

Though their varietals and approach to quality are traditional, their production methods are state of the art. Not only do they use the most efficient machinery available to process the olives, they also adhere to a strict sustainability policy. Guiding their use of water and power and approach to employee training, the policy covers everything from using alternative energy sources to crediting employees for hours spent on socially responsible projects.

By combining old and new, the Alonso family creates extraordinary EVOOs that taste great, are great for you and are great for the planet.  

The Boort Estate

On the other side of the world is the Boort Estate, part of Boundary Bend Limited. The Boort estate is one of the world’s largest single estate olive groves and like Alonso, they cultivate multiple olive varietals, including Arbequina, Frantoio, Koroneiki, and Hojiblanca, in addition to this lovely Picual.

The Boort Olive Estate in Boort, Victoria, Australia

Boundary Bend was established in 1998 by horticulturists Rob McGavin and Paul Riordan. Meeting at university, they shared a vision of a modern Australian olive industry. Financed by friends and family, Rob and Paul planted their first grove of 200 hectares (about 500 acres) in 1999. They now own 2.2 million producing trees on over 6,070 hectares of pristine Australian farmland.

Like the Alonso family, they rely on modern production methods to provide incredibly high-quality EVOOs at a reasonable price. Boundary Bend is vertically integrated, manufacturing olive harvesters, running Australia’s largest olive tree nursery and operating a state of the art olive oil bottling, storage and laboratory facility. They continue to innovate in all aspects of the “new world” olive industry.

Tasting Notes

Extraordinary but different, here are our staff’s tasting notes on these two great EVOOs.

Alonso Picual (Chile)

Grassy, green banana, herbal undertones with a delicate bitterness on the finish

Boort Picual (Australia)

Green tea, straw, notes of tropical fruit with an intense pungency, finishing with a distinctly pleasant bitterness.

Come in to taste all of this season’s amazing single varietals and share your tasting notes for our two Picuals!


Family Dinner as an Act of Revolution

In these uncertain economic and political times, it can be difficult to find ways to make a real difference. What if there was one thing you could do that made you healthier, saved you money, supported your local economy, and helped your children become more resilient? There is – have dinner at home, at the table, together, four times per week.

That’s it, eat family dinner. By cooking at home, you can start a revolution. I’ve written here about the benefits of using local produce, which include supporting local farmers and eating food with more nutrients and far more flavor. Reducing your carbon footprint is a happy byproduct. But couple that with cooking and eating at home and the benefits multiply.

Studies show that we eat fewer than 70% of our meals at home and fewer than ⅓ of us eats meals together more than twice a week. While these figures fall, there is a rise in obesity, food sensitivities, depression, and difficulty making ends meet. And while cooking more nights of the week seems daunting, the biggest obstacle is establishing the habit.

There’s a great site, Food52, that started as a way for cooks to swap recipes and support one another and has become that and more. They believe that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or precious and that the act of cooking fundamentally improves your quality of life. Their motto – Eat thoughtfully, live joyfully – is one we would all do well to adopt.

I live alone and cook for myself but rarely spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I’ve discovered so many meals I can make from scratch that take less than 30 minutes of actual work, and often less than an hour from cabinet to table. I steam vegetables in the microwave, I poach a week’s worth of chicken breasts in stock, I cook beans and rice ahead of time, I get cuts of meat that take only a few minutes in a skillet to prepare. I use our spice blends, infused oils, flavored vinegars – all make assembling a quick, nutritious, and very tasty meal extremely easy.

It seems like eating out or getting take out saves time. But really, the driving, the ordering, the waiting – it’s more than 30 minutes. And the food isn’t as good.

Another site, The Family Dinner Project, has scads of great research on the benefits of family dinner, ideas for cooking with children, fun things to do with food, conversation starters and more. Their research shows that the simple act of eating dinner as a family improves academic performance, increases self-esteem, makes children more resilient while lowering the risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, the likelihood of developing eating disorders and lowers rates of obesity.

Family doesn’t have to mean children, it doesn’t even have to mean blood relationships. It’s the breaking of bread the sharing of food that provides the benefits. For those of us who live alone, the benefits of cooking are still massive. Preparing your own food:

  • Saves money
  • Saves time (see above)
  • Makes you healthier
  • Avoids food sensitivities
  • Provides a creative outlet

It’s very satisfying. Start a revolution – cook dinner.


Sweet and Spicy Grilled Tacos

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Tacos
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound meat (chicken, pork, or beef), cubed
  • 1 large onion, cubed
  • 1 large bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 pineapple, cored and cubed
  • ⅔ cup F. Oliver’s Raspberry Treat Balsamic
  • ⅔ cup F. Oliver’s Smoky Chipotle EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons F. Oliver’s Tame Taqueria Spice Blend
  • skewers
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon F. Oliver’s Tame Taqueria Spice Blend
  • Soft taco shells
Instructions
  1. Skewer meat, onion, bell pepper, and pineapple alternately.
  2. Mix together Raspberry Treat Balsamic Vinegar, Smoky Chipotle EVOO, and Tame Taqueria well, and coat kabobs. Cover and let marinate for 12-24 hours, turning halfway through.
  3. Mix together Greek yogurt, avocado, and Tame Taqueria. Taste and season accordingly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Cook kabobs over a medium high heat until meat is cooked through. Serve on soft taco shells with yogurt mixture.
 


Stacey Mrva, Rochester Store Manager, Attends Class at UC Davis

In F. Oliver’s ongoing effort to make their staff the most knowledgeable resources available, Stacey Mrva, our Rochester store manager attended class at the UC Davis Olive Center.

The classroom at the UC Davis Olive Center

I interviewed her last week and asked her to share some of her experience.

Stacey, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I know you’re busy getting the fresh crush ready. Tell me about the class you attended in California.  

The title of the class is, “Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil,” and it’s presented by the University of California at Davis Olive Oil Center. The class focused on evaluating olive oils – through the senses, chemistry, and by understanding the policies under which olive oil is produced and marketed.

It was great, it really taught me how to evaluate olive oils. We sampled dozens of oils and learned how to evaluate based on smell and taste.  We learned the characteristics of great oils and how to taste all kinds of deficits. I knew a lot about what makes a great olive oil from working at F. Oliver’s but there are so many different ways an olive oil can display defects. Just when I thought I was getting it, they’d throw something new at us. It was exhilarating.

What are common defects in olive oil and how can you tell?

The two most common defects are rancid and fusty. Oils become rancid when they’re not stored properly – when they’ve been exposed to heat or light. The odor and flavor are like bad walnuts or Play-Doh, or crayons. Not that I really know what Play-Doh and crayons taste like! Fustiness is caused by olives that have begun to ferment.because they weren’t stored properly before crushing. The best example of fustiness is the taste of a brown, mushy table olive.

What’s really interesting is that rancidness and fustiness are not as uncommon as you’d think. Many supermarket olive oils display these characteristics. Many people haven’t tasted truly fresh olive oil and think that the rancid or fusty oil is extra-virgin olive oil. And that’s just one of the misconceptions that we in the U. S. have.

What are some other misconceptions?

Let’s see – light oil has less fat and fewer calories. That extra-virgin olive oil has a low smoke point. That cooking olive oil releases free radicals. There are a bunch more but those are the ones that stood out for me.

Ok, set me straight.

Light oil refers to olive oil that has been refined – a process using solvents and high heat. Producers do this to remove the bad taste of poor quality olives, to blend oils from different sources, and even to include oils that did not come from olives.

Smoke point is really interesting. The lower the acidity of an oil, the higher the smoke point. EVOO acidity is measured by free fatty acidity or FFA.  Some artisanal EVOOs have an FFA as low as .07 but most quality EVOOs come in around .2 – this gives them a smoke point of about 380 degrees F. This is just below canola oil.

As far as releasing free radicals – any heating process will do this. What is different about a high-quality EVOO is that the high polyphenol counts protect the body from free radicals. Other oils do not have this property.

Why UC Davis? What is the Olive Center?

It’s a great place, really vibrant and the staff is amazingly accomplished and very cool. They are a self-funded, university / industry group that wants to do for olives what UC Davis did for wine. They run classes, the like the one I went to, they publish research, they have olive groves and sell olive-based products. There are over 60 faculty members, researchers, and farmers associated with the center.

The grounds of the UC Davis Olive Center

Who attended the training?

It was a great mix of people – farmers, olive oil importers, store owners and managers, and one woman who just loved olive oil. It was a great group of people.

Thanks Stacey for talking to me today.

You’re welcome. I’m excited to share some of what I’ve learned and it’s very timely, as the fresh crush from the Southern Hemisphere is coming in. Everyone should stop by and try it!


Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad

Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. shaped pasta
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 1 medium broccoli crown
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 large tomato
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • ½ medium red onion
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Blushing Peach Balsamic
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Fresh Bright Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • ½ teaspoon F. Oliver’s Sunshine Seasoned Pepper Spice Blend
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente per directions. Drain well and place in a large bowl in the refrigerator to cool.
  2. Thinly slice zucchini, summer squash, roasted red peppers, and red onion. Dice tomatoes and cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
  3. To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together balsamic, EVOO, and spice blend. Set aside.
  4. Remove pasta from the refrigerator and add vegetables, feta, and vinaigrette. Gently toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

F. Oliver’s Summer Events

Now that summer is well and truly here, F. Oliver’s is taking its show on the road. Just like fun, we can be found at summer markets and festivals. The following is a list of where you can find us this summer. (Of course, we’re always in our stores and here in cyberspace.)

Markets

Canandaigua Farmers Market
Every other Saturday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
July 1, 15, and 29
August 12, 26
September 9, 23

Rochester Public Market
Saturday 6 AM – 2 PM

Ginegaw Park Farmers Market
Walworth, NY
3 PM – 6 PM
July 18, August 22, September 19

Festivals

Canandaigua Arts and Music Festival
July 14, Noon – 7 PM, July 15 – 16, 10 AM – 5 PM
Downtown Canandaigua

Curbstone Festival & Sidewalk Sales
Skaneateles, NY
July 20 – 22, 9 AM – 6 PM

Sauerkraut Weekend
Phelps, NY
August 4 – 6

Park Ave. Fest
Rochester, NY
August 5, 10 AM – 6 PM, August 6, 10 AM – 5 PM

New York State Wine Fest
New York Wine and Culinary Center
Canandaigua, NY
August 12 – 13, 10 AM – 5 PM

Events

F. Oliver’s Olive Oil Tasting at Inns of Aurora
Aurora, NY
July 26, 4 – 6 PM
Part of the Inns of Aurora Taste of Summer Series


F. Oliver’s Takes Permanent Space at Rochester Public Market

F. Oliver’s and our partner Flour City Pasta are thrilled to announce our new permanent space in the revamped B Shed at the Rochester Public Market.

The B Shed replaces the 1977 indoor vending shed as part of the Market’s $8 million dollar renovation project. In addition to replacing the indoor shed, the renovations expand the number of vendor stalls as well as adding additional amenities such as a demonstration and education kitchen.  It is expected to open in July 2017.  F. Oliver’s / Flour City Pasta space will be located right next to the new kitchen. 

“We are so excited to be part of this historic chapter in the Market’s history,” said Penelope Pankow, the proprietor of F. Oliver’s, “our partnership with Flour City and our participation in the Public Market is part of our ongoing support of local foods and local providers. We love being there, we love the energy and we love providing products that so perfectly complement local produce.”

You can find F. Oliver’s and Flour City Pasta in the outdoor C Shed until the opening of the new indoor space.


Finger Lakes Bounty

 

Three years ago, I was trying to decide where I was going to live next and one of the huge pros for moving to Rochester was the rich agricultural region in and around the Finger Lakes. I’ve been a foodie for years but my dedication for local produce goes beyond the freshness and flavor of seasonal produce.  It’s that, of course, but there’s so much more to the goodness of what it means to get your fruits and vegetables locally.

Good thing #1

Support for family farms. Just as you support local businesses, supporting local farms supports your community. It takes out the middleman, saving you money, and giving your money directly to the farmer. Knowing where your food comes from, knowing who grows your food, is grounding, almost spiritual. I was looking for shallots one week at the Rochester Public Market and the farmer I was talking to was telling me that they were late, that for some reason she couldn’t fathom, they didn’t come up. The next week, the same farmer had shallots. I remember looking at them and thinking, “I know what you were doing last week, you were still underground.” That knowledge, that feeling subtly changed the way I worked with them, personalized the way I approached cooking my meal and certainly enhanced its flavor.

Good thing #2

Reducing your carbon footprint. The shorter the distance, the smaller the carbon footprint. The amount of fossil fuel it takes to bring out of season and exotic fruits and vegetables to your grocery store is not negligible. Buy local and do your bit to help reduce climate change.

Good thing #3

Good things come to those who wait. Christmas comes but once a year as do many fruits and vegetables. The last couple years, I’ve been moving towards eating only seasonal produce and it’s been a revelation. My foodie self knew that the closer my meal is to its source, the more flavor and personality it has – by orders of magnitude. We’ve all suffered through cardboard tomatoes. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer joy that comes from the arrival of something wonderful. Spring peas, fresh strawberries, baby asparagus all taste more fabulous for anticipating their arrival. Our culture’s trend toward providing everything all the time seems like it’s all about providing but in many instances, it actually detracts.

We are truly blessed to live in an area so rich with agricultural abundance and it’s not difficult to take advantage of it. Shop your local farmer’s market, subscribe to a CSA. Plan your meals around local produce and experience the joy it can bring.


Blueberry Balsamic BBQ Ribs

Blueberry Balsamic BBQ Ribs
 
Ingredients
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. F. Oliver’s Garden Fresh Gremolata EVOO
  • ½ Vidalia onion, finely diced
  • ½ c. F. Oliver’s Summer Blueberry BV
  • 4 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1 roasted poblano pepper, finely diced
  • Ribs:
  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 2 tbsp. F. Oliver’s Greektown Seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Rub ribs with Greektown Seasoning and place on foil lined backing sheet bone side down.
  2. Bake for 2 hours.
  3. To make BBQ Sauce: Heat EVOO in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 mins.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  6. Increase heat and bring mixture to a low boil; cook 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer 10 mins.
  8. Remove cover. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash blueberries against the side of the pan to release juices. Sauce can be made smoother by pacing in the blender once cooled.
  9. Brush both sides of ribs with BBQ sauce and grill for about 5 mins, until sauce caramelizes. Serve with remaining sauce.
 


Spiced Pickled Green Beans

 

Spiced Pickled Green Beans
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. F. Oliver’s Sunny Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 c. white wine vinegar
  • ¼ c. F. Oliver’s Tunisian Harissa EVOO
  • 2 c. water
  • ¼ c. salt
  • 2 tbsp. F. Oliver’s Baharat spice blend
  • 2 ½ pounds fresh green beans, cleaned and cut to fit in 6 ½ pint jars
Instructions
  1. Clean and sterilize 4 ½ pint mason jars with rings and lids. Divide green beans between the jars.
  2. In a large saucepan, stir together vinegars, oil, water, salt, and Baharat. Bring to a boil and ladle (carefully!) over green beans.
  3. Seal jars with lids and rings; place in a hot water bath and simmer but do not boil for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Test for a good seal by pressing on the center of the lid- it should not move.
  4. Let pickles ferment 24 hours. Enjoy in a Mother’s Day Bloody Mary or on salads and sandwiches.
 


Bring a little sunshine into Mom’s life

This Mother’s Day, bring the sun into Mom’s life with the You Are My Sunshine Gift Box.  Fresh, Bright Basis EVOO, Sunny Pineapple Balsamic vinegar, and Sunshine Seasoned Pepper spice blend provide Mom with all she needs to create sunny new dishes this spring. Complete with recipe cards for Springtime Orzo Salad and Sunny Pineapple and Basil coolers, this gift box is sure to brighten up Mom’s every day.

Looking for something a little different? One of our F. Oliver’s team members can help you put together a custom three-bottle gift box to suit any Mom’s fancy, 10% off until Mother’s Day.

Stop by any of our four locations in Rochester, Canandaigua, Ithaca, or Skaneateles.


Cherry Lemon Quinoa Salad

Cherry Lemon Quinoa Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Meyer Lemon EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp. F. Oliver’s Phoenix Street Seasoning
  • ¼ c. dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 ½ c. water
  • ¼ c. slivered almonds
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • F. Oliver’s Sweet Rice Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a small pot, sauté onions and garlic in Meyer Lemon EVOO until translucent. Add Phoenix Street Seasoning and stir. Add cherries, quinoa and water, turning heat to high.
  2. Cover pot and reduce to medium heat once water begins to boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  3. Chill the salad thoroughly. Garnish with blue cheese, almonds and a drizzle of Sweet Rich Cherry Balsamic Vinegar to serve.


Put Your Best Fork Forward

March is National Nutrition Month, as presented by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org). Their site, and registered dieticians in general, are great sources of valid, evidence-based information on how what we eat contributes to our general well being.

Another great source of information is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a study and group of recommendations from the US Department of Health and Human Services in coordination with the US Department of Agriculture.

In brief, the Dietary Guidelines recommend that you:

  • Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
  • Eat from a variety of protein sources, including lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Limit saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

That’s it. The complete document is long and full of solid data, studies, and more precise recommendations but it all rolls up to what my mother used to tell us, “a colorful plate, is a nutritious plate.”  

While the idea of good nutrition can get tied up with ideas of deprivation, eating foods you don’t like, or even more fundamentally, the idea of being good or bad; thinking that way isn’t ultimately helpful.  

If you see the recommendations as an all or nothing proposition, if following them or not makes you a good person or a bad person, you’ll likely fail. And more to the point, you’ll probably feel like crap.  Eating well is about feeling well, about being well so anything, especially a thought, that make you feel less than well is counter-productive.

If good nutrition is your goal, it’s a matter of figuring out where you are and determining what small steps you can take to get there. For example, if your current diet is high in added sugars and you consume a lot of soda, a small step is to drink sparkling water with flavoring instead. If your diet is high in saturated fats, substitute olive oil for butter. Small changes, over time, provide huge results.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a number of tips based on our staff’s fabulous #WellnessWednesday posts on Facebook.  These are great ways to make small changes while providing big flavor and colorful plates.

  • To moderate the unhealthy fats in your diet, replace your butter or margarine with extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle our Petit Beurre EVOO on popcorn, use the Tuscan Garden EVOO on grilled cheese, marinate your steak with our Truffle infused EVOO or scramble your eggs with Tunisian Harissa EVOO. Simply changing the lipids in your diet will help with weight loss, cardiac health, and skin radiance.
  • Turmeric is one of the most beautiful and flavorful spices in the world and has a myriad of medicinal uses. Simply incorporate turmeric into some of your favorite dishes to help with intestinal inflammation, arthritis pain, cholesterol regulation and so much more.
  • Balsamic vinegar is a great natural remedy for acid reflux and indigestion. It contains important antioxidants that trigger the release of pepsins, which are imperative for breaking proteins down into amino acids; speeding up your metabolism and aiding in digestion. Additionally, balsamic vinegar is comprised of a large amount of acetic acid, which helps balance the pH in your stomach and keeps it from overproducing hydrochloric acid, the main perpetrator of the symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Extra virgin olive oil has wonderful anti-inflammatory benefits.  Researchers estimate that the oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil has an effect similar to ibuprofen for pain relief.
  • Balsamic vinegar stabilizes blood glucose levels. As balsamic vinegar is low on the glycemic index, it only raises your glucose levels slightly, going down over a long period of time. High glycemic foods, like processed treats, cause a sudden spike in your blood sugar. Once it spikes, glucose drops sharply to below its original level. Low glycemic foods, such as balsamic vinegar, keep you feeling satisfied for a longer period of time.
  • Balsamic vinegar supports your immune system. The grapes that are used to make balsamic vinegar contain antioxidants that fight against cell damage, improve the body’s immune system and make blood platelets more flexible.

 


Northern Hemisphere Fresh Crush Has Arrived!

We’re thrilled to announce that the Northern Hemisphere fresh crush EVOOs are available in all of our stores.

In order to ensure you have access to the freshest, highest quality olive oils we source our single varietal  EVOOs from the finest producers from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, rotating every six months. In the Northern Hemisphere, the oil season begins in early October extending to late February.

Similar to choosing when to pick wine grapes, the best olive oil comes from harvesting and crushing the olives at right time. Picking before the olive is ripe, provides low acidity but gives the oil a green, grassy taste. Waiting until late in the season to harvest the olives provides a higher yield for the growers, which translates into more money. However, oils made from late harvest olives are often not fit for human consumption unless they’ve been refined.

Harvesting and crushing the olives at the perfect moment of ripeness means lower yields, but higher quality, and much healthier EVOOs. In addition to tasting better and having a higher smoke point, the early harvest olives contain a higher polyphenol levels – the ingredient responsible for most of EVOO’s health benefits.

This season, we selected nine single varietals from three regions. Like many fine wines and single-malt whiskies, the single varietals are made from one type of fruit. Each olive type contributes a different flavor profile, and buying a single varietal instead of a blend ensures quality, as the producer can’t use one type of olive to mask the flavor of inferior olives.

And just like wine grapes, the olive’s characteristics vary year to year, depending on weather and growing region. A Frantoio that was mild one year, could be robust the next. As with all of our products, each of nine new EVOOs are available to taste.  

This year’s EVOOs were harvested and crushed in November 2016. Here are some tasting notes to get you started.

USA

Koroneiki

Intensity: Mild. Notes of green almond and apple peel give way to flavors of ripe banana. Balanced with minimal bitterness and slightly more pepper, our delicate early harvest California Koroneiki has a slightly pungent finish.

Organic Arbosana

Intensity: Mild/Medium. Our early harvest organic California Arbosana is loaded with ripe fruit notes. Creamy green olive, almond and a pleasant richness, make up this delicate, well balanced oil.

Organic Arbequina

Intensity: Medium. Our early harvest organic California Arbequina is creamy and delicate with notes of green almond, artichoke and citrus. It has a nice peppery finish and low bitterness.

Portugal

Chiquitita

Intensity: Mild. This new cultivar was developed in Spain in 1991 as a cross between the iconic Spanish Picual and Arbequina varieties. Our example is sweet and delicate, displaying pleasant notes of green almond and olive.

Galega

Intensity: Medium. The dominant variety in Portugal, this early harvest example is perfectly balanced with equal parts pungency and bitterness. Delicate, creamy and viscous with notes of berry and creamy almond.

Cobrançosa

Intensity: Robust. Historically one of the most popular Northern Hemisphere EVOOS, the Portuguese Cobrançosa is very complex. Layered with creamy flavors and savory notes of nettle and green herb, this unique Portuguese variety has developed a loyal following.

Spain

Melgarejo Koroneiki

Intensity: Medium. A delightfully pungent version of the iconic Greek varietal. Chock full of pepper and savory herb notes, this example displays herbaceous qualities is pungent without a ton of bitterness.

Melgarejo Frantoio

Intensity: Robust. An intensely herbaceous Frantoio, chock full of pepper and savory herb notes, this example displays capsicum like sensations and registers high in antioxidant content without a ton of bitterness.

Melgarejo Picual

Intensity: Robust. This flawless Spanish oil comes from one of the most decorated producers in the world. Notes include green tomato leaf, fresh cut grass and garden herbs. Ample bitterness and pungency make this oil a favorite among olive oil aficionados.  A visually stunning example of early harvest emerald green Picual.


Irish Beef Stew

Irish Beef Stew
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ lb. stew beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 c. carrots, sliced
  • 3 lbs. potatoes, diced
  • ¼ c. F. Oliver’s Ripe Fig Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. F. Oliver’s Empire Butchers Rub, divided
  • ½ c. F. Oliver’s Heady Garlic EVOO, divided 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. Guinness or other stout
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  • 6 c. beef stock or broth
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Marinate stew beef in balsamic vinegar for at least three hours or overnight. Remove meat from marinade and season with 1 tbsp. Empire Butchers Rub.
  2. Heat ¼ c. EVOO in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Brown beef on all sides without stirring.
  3. Add stock/broth, Guinness, wine, tomato paste, bay leave, thyme, sugar, 1 tbsp. Empire Butchers Rub to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, heat ¼ c. EVOO in a separate sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, potato and carrots and sauté until onions are golden.
  5. Add vegetable mixture to the stew, add salt to taste and simmer uncovered until stew beef is tender (about 40 minutes). Discard bay leaves and sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve.


What Did the Presidents Eat?

This month we observe the birthdays of two of our greatest presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Being food-oriented, I was curious to find out what these two great men liked to eat and found a wonderful site that details the eating habits of our presidents.

How and what we eat is determined by so many factors – our ethnic and cultural roots, geography, economics, our likes and dislikes, and trends of the day. Viewing history through food and recipes provides a glimpse into our past that is often more real and immediate than stories of the great and the good. It’s the history of our everyday, the history of everyone. With all the things that divide us, we are united in our need for – and often love of – food.

What our presidents ate is their history as men, as well as statesmen, and perhaps the most interesting view into an early president’s life comes from Martha Washington. As a bride, Martha inherited a family manuscript of recipes at the beginning of her first marriage to Robert Custis in 1749. The manuscript was likely already more a historical document than an everyday kitchen aid and was firmly rooted in English cuisine in addition to the fledgling cuisine of the New World.

Over the next 50 years, Martha continued updating the manuscript and in 1799, presented it to her granddaughter as a wedding gift. Think of it – as a 19 year old bride she inherited a guide dating back to the time of Elizabeth I and James I, words of advice passed down from grandmothers to mothers across ages and oceans. Her stewardship of the manuscript saw the death of her first husband, the courtship and marriage to her second, and a front row seat to the War of Independence. It was with her during her days as the first First Lady, the deaths of her children, her second husband, and her retirement back to Mount Vernon.  

It continued to be passed down from generation to generation and in the 1980’s was transcribed and annotated by food historian, Karen Hess and passed on to all of us. It’s available from Columbia University Press and it’s a fascinating read.

So what did the president’s eat? While neither was a gourmand, Washington seemed to have more interest in eating for pleasure; Lincoln saw food strictly as fuel though he did love apples. Washington loved to eat from the bounty of his estate – truly farm to table – and was surprisingly fond of cherries.


F. Oliver’s Seneca Seasoning Featured in Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit, Conde Nast’s leading food lifestyle brand, named F. Oliver’s Seneca Seasoning as one of their favorite spice blends in their article, 15 Spice Blends We Can’t Live Without.  The F. Oliver’s product was in good company, featured alongside blends created by New York chef, Eric Ripert and other national and local brands. The Seneca Seasoning was the only Finger Lakes brand featured.

“We’re thrilled that our world-class spice blends are receiving world-class recognition,” says F. Oliver’s proprietor, Penelope Pankow.

Seneca Seasoning is one many fine spice blends available at one of F. Oliver’s four retail locations and in our online store.


7 Simple Steps to a Healthy Heart

February is a little month dedicated to a lot of things – Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and my favorite Groundhog Day. To be fair, it’s the movie I love. In it, the character played by Bill Murray lives the same day over and over, trying everything he can think of to escape it all while trying to win the heart of Andie MacDowell. What he learns is that it’s not grand gestures or knowing everything or having everyone like you that wins the day; it’s living authentically and caring about the small graces that allows him to wake up on February 3 and yes, to win the girl.

I, like many people, use January to resolve, to make grand gestures and to hope some of its newness will rub off on me. And come February 2, it’s Groundhog Day. My resolutions go the way of set behaviors. That’s why I’m making Heart Health Month my new favorite part of February. The American Heart Association lists seven simple steps to achieve heart health:

  • Eat Better 
  • Get Active
  • Lose Weight
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce Blood Sugar
  • Control Cholesterol
  • Manage Blood Pressure

Simple doesn’t mean easy but it does mean that grand gestures don’t get you there. It means nudging yourself on a fairly regular basis towards simple goals, it means choosing long term outcomes over short term gratification more often than not. Five out of the seven are about food, which is awesome. I like to look at 7 Simple Steps like this:

Quit smoking – it’s incredibly difficult but the upside is awesome – you can taste and smell better. Food becomes more wondrous.

Get active – it doesn’t say punish your body or set unrealistic goals, just get active. Walk more – we’re lucky to be located in amazing downtown areas; park the car and see what’s in your neighborhood. In Monroe County, the American Heart Association provides maps to 30 walking paths.  Movement feels good, even just a little of it.

Eat Better and Lose Weight – I like to think of these as maintain a healthy weight and eat well. Eating well is about more than choosing food for its pharmaceutical value – it’s about choosing food in season, at its peak, for its flavor, for the fun of creating new dishes. It’s about enhancing your life with goodness and bounty. If you want to lose a few extra pounds to get to a healthy weight, explore new flavors and new dishes. It’s about making your mouth happy. You can eat fewer calories and be incredibly satisfied by forgoing the ingredients in processed food and replacing them with the more satisfying ingredients in food you prepare for yourself. Which brings us to:

Reduce Blood Sugar, Control Cholesterol, and Manage Blood Pressure – here it’s about replacing one type of ingredient for another – not giving up on anything in particular. It’s so easy to do:

  • Add a flavored balsamic to sparkling water – you have a flavorful fizzy drink without all the sugar and chemicals present in soda pop.
  • Substitute spices for salt – you’ll create new flavor profiles without missing salt a lick.
  • Use fresh olive oil – 2500 years ago, Hippocrates (of Hippocratic oath fame) called olive oil, “the great healer.” He knew from experience what we know now from science – fresh, quality olive oil has amazing healing properties. Just a cursory search on the National Institute of Health’s research site shows in significant, peer-reviewed studies, olive oil helps control cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and makes for a healthier you.

You can have it all – flavorful, satisfying meals and heart health. And you can finally wake up to a new song on February 3rd.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Medley

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Medley
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ lbs fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 medium or 4 small sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Mediterranean Cassis Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Sage with Wild Harvest Mushroom EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon F. Oliver’s Mulling Spices
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel & cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place in large bowl. Cut Brussels sprouts in half & add to bowl. Add EVOO to the vegetables, season with salt and pepper & toss to coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add balsamic vinegar & mulling spices to a small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, reduce to low & let simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  3. Place vegetables in a serving dish, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds & drizzle with balsamic reduction.
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Maple Roasted Salmon

Maple Roasted Salmon
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • Marinade:
  • 4 Salmon Filets
  • ¼ cup F Oliver’s Sunday Morning Maple Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup F Oliver’s Petit Beurre EVOO
  • Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons F Oliver’s Petit Beurre EVOO
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ½ cup F Oliver’s Sunday Morning Maple Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • F Oliver’s Adirondack Maple Seasoning
Instructions
  1. Place salmon in a re-sealable plastic bag. Add balsamic and EVOO and massage to thoroughly distribute onto salmon. Allow to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 425. Prepare glaze by heating 2 tbsps. EVOO in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add balsamic vinegar, Dijon and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer, stirring often and watching closely until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Brush salmon with glaze and generously season with Adirondack Maple Seasoning. Roast salmon for 10-12 minutes on foil lined baking sheet or until salmon is cooked through. Drizzle with remaining glaze.
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Apple Walnut Cous Cous Salad

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Apple Walnut Cous Cous Salad
Serves: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked Israeli pearl couscous
  • 1 granny smith apple diced
  • ½ red onion diced
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Orchard Ripe Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ cup F. Oliver’s Meyer Lemon EVOO
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons, divided Canandaigua Centenntial Rub
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Cook couscous according to package directions, adding 1 tsp. of Canandaigua Centenntial Rub to cooking liquid. Set aside to cool.
  2. While couscous is cooking, whisk together Orchard Ripe Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar, Meyer Lemon EVOO, 1 tsp. Canandaigua Centenntial Rub and garlic.
  3. Once couscous has cooled, toss with vinaigrette and stir in apple, red onion and parsley.
  4. Top with chopped walnuts. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
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Cherry-Jerk Chicken

Try this recipe to give your chicken a little kick! Feel free to finish the chicken on the grill for added flavor and those lovely grill marks! Also great for fish, pork and beef.IMG_1520

Cherry-Jerk Chicken
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • ¾ c F. Oliver’s Sweet Rich Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¾ c F. Oliver’s Heady Garlic EVOO
  • F. Oliver’s Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Instructions
  1. Place chicken pieces in single layer in a 9x13 glass dish or a re-sealable gallon plastic bag. Add balsamic and EVOO and massage to thoroughly distribute onto the chicken. Allow chicken to marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. If marinating in a 9x13 glass dish, flip chicken half way through marinating.
  2. Once marinated, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove chicken from marinade and place on a plate or cutting board. Liberally season each side of the chicken pieces with Jamaican Jerk.
  3. Bake chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the thigh but not touching the bone, about 45-50 minutes.
  4. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 


Raspberry-Chipotle Grilled Pork Chops

Firing up the grill for the 4th of July? Try this recipe! The fruitiness of the Raspberry Treat Balsamic Vinegar pairs perfectly with smoke and spice of the Smoky Chipotle EVOO. This recipe also works beautifully with chicken. 

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Raspberry-Chipotle Grilled Pork Chops
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • ½ c F. Oliver’s Raspberry Treat Balsamic Vinegar
  • ½ c F. Oliver’s Smoky Chipotle EVOO
  • F. Oliver’s Empire Butcher’s Rub
Instructions
  1. Place chops in single layer in a 9x13 glass dish or a gallon re-sealable plastic bag. Add balsamic and EVOO and massage to thoroughly distribute onto the pork chops. Allow chops to marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. If marinating in a 9x13 glass dish, flip chops half way through marinating.
  2. Once marinated, warm grill. Remove pork chops from marinade and place on a plate or cutting board. Season each side of chops with Empire Butcher’s Rub.
  3. Grill chops until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about 4 minutes each side.
  4. Allow chops to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
 

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Fresh Bright Basil Lemon Cake with Farmstand Strawberry Mascarpone Mousse

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Fresh Bright Basil Lemon Cake with Farmstand Strawberry Mascarpone Mousse
 
Ingredients
  • Fresh Bright Basil Lemon Cake*
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (or whipped cream cheese)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 ounces heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Farmstand Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Sweet Spiced Sugar
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix mascarpone cheese and confectioner’s sugar until combined,
  2. Gently mix in Farmstand Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar until well incorporated.
  3. Fold in whipped cream
  4. To serve:
  5. Place a slice of cake on the plate, top with a dollop of mascarpone mousse and ¼ cup strawberries. Sprinkle with Sweet Spiced Sugar, and enjoy!
  6. Alternately, slice cake into thirds and layer with mascarpone mix and strawberries, and sprinkle with Sweet Spiced Sugar.
Notes
*Substitute ½ of the oil called for in a boxed lemon cake with F. Oliver’s Fresh Bright Basil EVOO
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Blushing Peach Bellini

Treat your mom to something special this Mother’s Day.  For a more traditional brunch beverage, add a splash of orange juice.

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Blushing Peach Bellini
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon F. Oliver’s Blushing Peach BV
  • 5 ounces Cava, Prosecco, or Brut Champagne
Instructions
  1. In a Champagne flute add Blushing Peach BV and top with Cava. Serve with a
  2. raspberry or strawberry if desired.
 

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Garden Fresh Gremolata Brunch Casserole

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Garden Fresh Gremolata Brunch Casserole
Serves: 1 casserole or 16 muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Garden Fresh Gremolata EVOO, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 4 rounded cups cubed bread, loosely packed (use a combination of wheat, white, etc for variety)
  • 1 Tablespoon F. Oliver’s Seneca Seasoning
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup 2% milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously oil an 8 ½ x 11 casserole dish (use Garden Fresh Gremolata EVOO or spray). Heat Garden Fresh Gremolata EVOO in a medium-sized saute pan, and saute onion until soft. In a large bowl toss bread cubes with sautéed onion and Seneca Seasoning until well coated, and gently stir in ¾ of the feta cheese.
  2. Fill casserole dish with bread mixture. In a medium bowl beat together milk, cream, and eggs. Pour cream mixture over bread. (It’s okay if the bread sticks out of the custard on top- this will make the bread crispy!). Bake 40-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  3. To serve drizzle with Garden Fresh Gremolata EVOO and sprinkle with remaining feta cheese.
Notes
For a more elegant brunch option, fill muffin tin ¾ full with bread mixture. Pour cream mixture over bread in tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Optional: add browned ground turkey or breakfast sausage to bread mixture before adding to casserole.
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Poached Egg and Asparagus Crostini

Any lover of eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner will find this perfect to get into the spirit of Spring! Our lovely Single Varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oils (EVOOs) are the perfect match to such a light and fresh recipe. Whether you prefer a buttery and mild California Sevillano or a robust and peppery Malgarejo Hojiblanca, any of F. Oliver’s Single Varietal EVOO’s will work beautifully.

Egg & Asparagus Crostini

Poached Egg & Asparagus Crostini
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, stems trimmed
  • 4 thick slices bread of choice
  • 4 eggs
  • F. Oliver’s Single Varietal EVOO
  • F. Oliver’s Fleur de Sel
  • F. Oliver’s Sunshine Seasoned Pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Bring 1-inch salted water to a boil in a large skillet for asparagus
  3. Bring 3-inch water to a boil, reduce to simmer in a saucepan for the eggs
  4. Toast bread in preheated oven for 5-8 minutes or until desired doneness.
  5. In the large skillet, add asparagus in one layer. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Meanwhile, tip eggs into simmering water. Cook until desired doneness.
  7. To assemble crostini:
  8. Place toasts on plate and drizzle with Single Varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  9. Place a few asparagus spears on each toast followed by one poached egg.
  10. Finish with a drizzle of Single Varietal Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel and Sunshine Seasoned Pepper.
  11. For an extra burst of flavor to compliment the asparagus, add a drizzle of Lemon Bouquet White Balsamic to the asparagus.
 

Egg & Asparagus Crostini


Spring Pea & Cashew Salad

This fresh Spring pea and cashew salad is one of our favorite go-to side dishes. It’s quick and simple with wonderful ingredients that make it both sweet and savory. It’s always a hit at our table. Want to save even more time? Measure out the frozen peas in the morning and they will thaw in the fridge before you even get home. Easy-peasy!

Spring Pea & Cashew Salad | Get the recipe at www.folivers.com

Spring Pea & Cashew Salad
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups spring peas, shelled
  • ½ cup salted cashews, toasted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons F. Oliver’s Sunny Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons F. Oliver’s Herbes de Provence EVOO
  • F. Oliver’s Fleur de Sel, to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Mint, chopped, if desired
Instructions
  1. Cook peas and chill. Toss peas and cashews together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk Sunny Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar and Greek yogurt. While still whisking, drizzle in Herbes de Provence EVOO until thickened.
  3. Add vinaigrette to pea and cashew mixture and mix well.
  4. Season pepper to taste, and finish with a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel. Serve with fresh mint if desired.
 
Spring Pea & Cashew Salad | Get the recipe at www.folivers.com

 


Perfect for Valentine’s Day: Scallops with Blood Orange Risotto and Watercress Salad

Looking for something fancy for your Valentine’s Day dinner?  Look no further.  We have an elegant meal featuring our February products of the month.  The recipes are simple, but their flavor will wow your Valentine.

Scallops with Blood Orange Risotto and watercress salad (w/ dark chocolate vinaigrette)

Makes 4 generous entrée portions

For the Risotto:

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1- 1 ½ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring broth to a very low simmer.  Heat Blood Orange EVOO in a large pot over medium-high head.  Cook onions until softened, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook until the garlic aroma is apparent, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add rice and salt; stir well.  Turn heat down to medium-low.  Stir ½ cup of broth and about 2 Tablespoons of wine to the rice.  Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Continue to cook on medium-low, adding broth in ½ cup increments and wine in 2 Tablespoon increments; stir frequently after each addition until most of the liquid is absorbed.  The risotto is done when you have used all of the broth and most if not all of the wine, and the rice dish is creamy and just tender.   This usually takes 30-40 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup cheese.

 

For the Scallops:

Ingedients

  • 16 Bay scallops, patted dry
  • 2-3 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Poker Run Pork Seasoning
  • 1-2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s single varietal EVOO

Directions:

  1. Lightly pat each scallop top and bottom with Poker Run Pork Seasoning.  In a medium sauté pan, heat EVOO until oil is pulling away from center of pan.  Place one scallop at a time in the pan and sear each side until golden brown and scallop is just cooked through, turning only once (about 5 minutes total).  Repeat until all scallops have been cooked.

 

For the Watercress Salad:

 

  • 3 cups watercress, rinsed well and spun dry
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Dark Chocolate BV
  • 1/3 cup F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO
  • Fresh strawberries, sliced
  • dash salt

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and Blood Orange EVOO.  Season to taste with salt, and lightly dress watercress topped with strawberries with vinaigrette.

 

To serve:

Serve individually, with risotto, scallops, and a small amount of watercress salad on top.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette, sprinkle of cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper, if desired.

 


Poker Run Scallops

scallops

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Lightly pat each scallop top and bottom with Poker Run Pork Seasoning.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, heat EVOO until oil is pulling away from center of pan.
  3. Place one scallop at a time in the pan and sear each side until golden brown and scallop is just cooked through, turning only once (about 5 minutes total).  Repeat until all scallops are cooked.

Fennel Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Blue Cheese

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Featuring Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO

Ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • dash crushed red peppers
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • ciabatta croutons (recipe below)

For Ciabatta Croutons:

  • 4 slices ciabatta bread
  • 1 Tablespoon F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place sliced fennel in a medium sized bowl.  In a small bowl, add garlic, crushed red pepper, and Dark Chocolate BV and mix well.  Slowly whisk in  Blood Orange EVOO, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle over fennel and mix well.  Cover tightly and let marinate for 30 minutes to 3 hours (you can place in refrigerator but is fine at room temperature).
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.  Rub each slice of ciabatta bread with EVOO and then rub with exposed garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and bake for 5-8 minutes or until toasted.
  3. Serve fennel mixture topped with pomegranate seeds, blue cheese, and crouton.

Wondering what fennel is?  It is a bulbous vegetable great for salads.  It has a bright fresh taste, and accompanies cheeses and sweet fruits wonderfully.


Spicy Brussels Sprouts

Here’s a tasty way to spice up your brussels sprouts this weekend.  If they’re a little liquid-y, don’t worry – it will create a wonderful glaze in the oven!
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • ½ Tablespoon F. Oliver’s Finger Lakes Fabulous Squash Seed Oil
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon F. Oliver’s Tunisian Harissa EVOO
  • ½ Tablespoon honey
  • Garnish with crushed peanuts and green onions. 

Directions:

  1. Rinse brussels sprouts. In a medium pot fitted with a steamer insert, add about 1″ of water. Pour brussels sprouts into the basket. Cover and turn to medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, no more. Preheat oven to 450°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, make sauce. In a bowl, combine peanut butter, Squash Seed Oil, soy sauce, Tunisian Harissa EVOO, and honey. Whisk until well combined. Once sprouts have cooked for 10 minutes, drain and return to pot. Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the sprouts. Reserve leftover sauce for later. Stir to evenly coat. Pour onto lined baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir and bake for 5 minutes more or until crispy and slightly charred.
  3. Remove from oven. Stir remaining sauce over. Add to a serving dish. Garnish with peanuts and green onions. Serve warm.

Sarah’s Greens & Beans

I am always looking for easy, healthy weeknight meals. Here is one of our family favorites:

Sarah’s Easy Recipe for Beans and Greens

This might be the most forgiving recipe in the history of the world in that this dish will be delicious no matter what you do. It’s all about what tastes good to you.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Heady Garlic EVOO
  • 1 7-ounce bag of Escarole (or more depending how greenie you want your beans and greens)
  • 1 or 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (I use two cans because I love beans)
    Chicken broth (enough to cover)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • shredded Parmesan, to taste

Directions:

  1. Coat saucepan with 1 Tablespoon of Heady Garlic EVOO. Over medium heat, wilt the greens a little at a time, stirring constantly.
  2. When all greens are wilted, add your beans, another tablespoon of Heady Garlic EVOO.  Salt and pepper to taste. Blend well with wooden spoon.
  3. Cover with chicken broth and bring to boil for one minute. Turn to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until all flavors are blended.
  4. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and enjoy. It’s great with a hunk of good bread for dunking and cleaning up what’s left in the bowl!

 


Minestrone Soup

Nothing tastes better on a chilly January evening than a bowl of hot soup.  Enjoy this recipe for Minestrone soup featuring our Products of the Month.

F. Oliver’s Minestrone

Ingredientsth

  • 3 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Tuscan Garden EVOO, plus additional for serving
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 2 Tablespoons F. Oliver’s Ripe Fig BV, plus additional for serving
  • 1 cup kidney beans, cooked
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1-2 zucchini, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, sliced
  • F. Oliver’s Sunshine Seasoned Pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup pasta, cooked to al dente and chilled
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat EVOO over medium heat.   Add onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes; then add celery and carrots and sauté for additional 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add broth, water, tomato puree, and Balsamic Vinegar and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, basil, and season to taste with Sunshine Seasoned Pepper.  Simmer for 35-50 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.
  4. Add cooked pasta to soup and heat through
  5. Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled and F. Oliver’s Tuscan Garden EVOO and Ripe Fig BV drizzled on top.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

Thanksgiving Dinner - so pretty!Julia Child’s Thanksgiving dinners were not her best meals. “Her food was very good but very simple, and she used very little for seasoning except for salt and pepper,” her nephew Julian said. “You wouldn’t necessarily walk away thinking that was the best meal you ever had.”

Thanksgiving dinner is tough one. We are often cooking too many dishes for more people than we are used to cooking for, and feeling the pressure of tradition.

How does one make a GREAT Thanksgiving dinner? For starters:

  • Don’t try to do it all yourself; assign responsibility to others
  • Make very simple dishes with GREAT ingredients (F. Oliver’s products are perfect for this!)
  • Do as much as possible ahead of time. You can actually start NOW
  • If something doesn’t turn out, so what.

I will be bringing salad for 40 people. It needs to travel well and be easily prepared and plated in a kitchen that is already in a high state of chaos. Ina Garten’s foolproof recipes to the rescue, only mine needs to be even more foolproof than hers (check out her recipe here).

I will be simplifying as follows: cutting the number of vinaigrette ingredients by simply mixing F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Blood Orange EVOO with Champagne Wine Vinegar and salt and pepper, roasting the walnuts over the weekend, and preparing everything except the apple the day before; transporting in well sealed plastic bags. Done.

Will it be my best dish ever? No, but it will be a fresh, flavorful, addition to our feast. Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!


Roasted Vegetables

I love roasted vegetables because:

  • They are incredibly easy to prepare
  • You can memorize the recipe, making it easy for shopping
  • You can make all the same or mix all kinds of different vegetables, depending on what you have on hand
  • They taste so good you can’t believe you are eating something so good for you. Always make enough for left-overs!

When I first started roasting vegetables, I carefully followed recipes, but then I realized that the recipes were pretty much the same, so I have gotten a little lazy and just wing it. In preparation for this blog post, I found a great “recipe” that differentiates between dense, low moisture vegetables, like root vegetables and squash, and those with more moisture, such as zucchini and eggplant.

Here is the recipe, courtesy of the New York Times, which you will probably only need once!

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 pounds root or dense vegetable, peeled if you like and cut into 1-inch chunks or wedges (carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, winter squashes).
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons Good Olive Oil, divided. (Always F. Oliver’s! I use either a medium to robust bodied single varietal, Fresh Pressed Blood Orange, Fresh Pressed Meyer Lemon, Heady Garlic, Tuscan Garden, or whatever other F. Oliver’s EVOO sounds good to you.)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons of oil. Spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet so that the vegetables are in a single layer. Salt, and pepper as desired (or for added flavor, sprinkle with your favorite spice blend). Roast for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring at least once or twice during roasting for even cooking and browning. Drizzle with remaining oil just before serving (optional).

Variations:

  • You can use 2 pounds high-moisture vegetables instead (eggplant, peppers, zucchini, fennel, onions, brussels sprouts). Slice them and cut into chunks or wedges. Roast at 450 degrees until golden brown all over, 10 to 40 minutes depending on variety and the size of the pieces.
  • Or use 1 to 2 pounds hardy green vegetables (broccoli rabe, snow peas, green beans, kale, collard greens, chard) or cherry tomatoes, trimmed. Roast at 450 degrees for 7 to 15 minutes.

Final note: even if you put all the vegetables together and some get more done than others, so what, you still have a good healthy dish that will taste great!


Mediterranean Diet

From Courtney, our operations manager: There has been quite a buzz around the Mediterranean diet lately and we wanted to share some of the information with you. The Mediterranean diet consists mostly of healthy fats and plant foods.

Olive Oil is one of the key components to the Mediterranean diet, which plays a role in lowering LDL, a bad form of cholesterol. Not only that, but this diet holds many other health benefits. It protects against the development of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. The newest study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by a whopping 30% in those most at risk. Participants who were asked to consume at least 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) showed the most improvement. One thing that the study results neglected to mention is the heightened benefit of freshness in EVOOs. Olive oil should be consumed within 18 months of the olive harvest date, so ALWAYS look for that date when purchasing in order to get maximum health benefits.

Along with Extra Virgin Olive Oils, the other foods that are staples to this life style are vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts. Meats and dairy play a smaller role.

F. Oliver’s has plenty of options of ultra premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils to start you on your path to a healthier and longer life. Stop in to any of our stores and we can help you choose different Flavor Infused or Single Varietal Oils to drizzle on fruits or vegetables along with any other culinary use.


Tale of a Tasting Dinner

A Fond Reflection by Sean, F. Oliver’s Ithaca Store Manager:

A few days ago, we shared a wonderful evening with Taverna Banfi and Damiani Wine Cellars for our first-ever tasting dinner in Ithaca. The restaurant, Taverna Banfi, is part of Cornell University’s prestigious Statler Hotel and specializes in Tuscan cooking. It was a splendid affair with first-rate cuisine and lovely wines to match. Showcasing our oils and vinegars with the help of Taverna Banfi’s hardworking, creative, and deeply talented team of professionals and students was such a pleasure.

The Evening

The tasting event began with an introduction from Greg Mezey, Director of Food and Beverage for the Statler Hotel. He recognized our collaborative dinner as the kickoff for a series of educational and inspiring tastings the restaurant will hold this year. The dinner was presented in five courses, created by Taverna Banfi’s chefs. Each course was paired with a unique and carefully selected wine from Damiani. During courses, Lou Damiani and our very own Penelope Pankow circled around to each table discussing the unique qualities of the oil, vinegar, or wine used for that course. For a look back at the evening’s wonderful courses, glance at the full menu.

A Budding Partnership

This week’s tasting dinner serves as the beginning of a very exciting partnership between F. Oliver’s and Taverna Banfi. We are working closely with Greg and his team to supply our ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils for the restaurant’s many tables. We are so honored and excited to be working with Taverna Banfi in this way.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone for coming to the dinner–the strong attendance was instrumental for the atmosphere and overall success of the evening. Tasting dinners are an exciting opportunity for us and we’d like to do more of them! Be sure to leave a comment here, on our Facebook page, or visit us in our stores with your own ideas for tasting venues! And last but certainly not least, savor a photo of one of the evening’s highlight courses: Ruby Red Grapefruit Herb Salad with F. Oliver’s Fresh Pressed Meyer Lemon Custard.

Grapefruit Herb Salad

Grapefruit Herb Salad


Soups on!

Wise words from Crystal, F. Oliver’s Park Avenue Store Manager:

As flu season grips the nation it is good to be reminded of simple ways to stay healthy. Proper hand washing, cough covering and healthy eating are a sure way to avoid getting the flu. During this time of the year I am always looking for recipes that warm me up but are also packed full of local seasonal fresh vegetables. Recipes that really make you feel good and give you the energy you need to fight off illness. One of the ways I do this is by visiting my local farmers market on a weekly basis. It’s a way for me to get the ingredients I need, to become inspired and create healthy recipes all week long. Of course I love using our FRESH extra virgin olive oils to accompany different recipes that not only add delicious but HEALTHY flavor.

I LOVE SOUP! It’s an amazing way to get as many veggies as possible into one pot. It’s warm, it’s comforting, it’s chock full of healthiness! Below is my all-time favorite soup recipe to keep you feeling good all winter long!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of F. Oliver’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil (choose your favorite!)
  • 2 cups chopped onions or thinly sliced leeks (whites only)
  • 2 cups of carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 cups of green beans, cut on a bias
  • 2 cups of potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups of zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian dried herbs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Directions

  1. Heat EVOO in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions or leeks, carrots, celery, green beans, potatoes, zucchini, garlic, and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Extra’s

Add an array of beans, short cut pastas or shredded chicken to the pot to change to soup completely! Drizzle with your favorite F. Oliver’s EVOO!

Stay healthy;)


Before and After

Food has always played an important role in my life. Not as you would normally consider it as sustenance and fuel, but as the center of a lot of emotion. Often, I tend to eat not because I am hungry, but because I am stressed, tired, or otherwise emotional. So, while I am eating, the voices in my head say, “you shouldn’t be eating this,” or, “don’t have more,” or, “you should be eating more healthily.” In short, a lot of negatives and shoulds, which generally lead to eating more and enjoying less.

I was sick recently and, although my appetite stayed healthy, I was only able to eat small amounts of food very slowly. The silver lining around the illness cloud was that I learned once again to savor every bite with enjoyment and gratitude; because I was eating so slowly I fully realized when I was satiated and when I had consumed enough. I even had cookies and ice cream, but in small, reasonable quantities, without any guilt. I feel as if I was given a gift of a healthy, appropriate relationship with food and intend to do everything I can to keep these good habits going. It’s so much more gratifying to eat this way!

Here are a few easy recipes that I have enjoyed recently; I hope you enjoy them as well.

Easy Weeknight Pasta

  • 1 lb rotini pasta, preferably whole wheat or “pasta plus”
  • 4 tablespoons ultra-premium, fresh extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 2 cups broccoli or other firm vegetables
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, with juices
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to instructions on package. While pasta is cooking, sauté broccoli in 2 tablespoons of EVOO in large sauté pan over medium low heat. (I used F. Oliver’s Heady Garlic EVOO.) When pasta is cooked and broccoli is tender, toss pasta with broccoli in sauté pan. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO (I used F. Oliver’s Favolosa Single Varietal, additional Heady Garlic, Fresh-Pressed Meyer Lemon, or Fresh Bright Basil EVOOs would be good as well.) Remove sauté pan from heat and add tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Thoroughly combine and serve. This recipe can be easily cut in half or makes terrific left-overs.

Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Balsamic and Fresh Fruit

This one couldn’t be easier! Simply select a fresh fruit you choose to serve on your Greek Yogurt. (I like sliced strawberries, blueberries, chopped peaches, or banana slices.) Mix fruit with a healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar of choice. (I like F. Oliver’s Dark Chocolate, Raspberry Treat, or Café Espresso) and place on top of a portion of vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt. If you like you can top with a tablespoon of granola; better than a fruit crisp!

The Perfect Vinaigrette (from Epicurious.com)

  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 5 tablespoons ultra premium fresh extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Ground white pepper

Whisk together vinegar and Dijon mustard in small bowl, then whisk in honey. Gradually whisk in oil. (I used F. Oliver’s Sicilian Cerasuola; it is EXTREMELY important to use the best, freshest EVOO you can get for a vinaigrette as it is a critical flavor component.) Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and white pepper. Do ahead Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover. Chill if making more than 1 day ahead. Use vinaigrette at room temperature.

I served the vinaigrette over a mixed green salad with a good sheep’s milk cheese and dried cherries. Be sure to dress your salad so that the greens just glisten with dressing, but are not laden or soggy.

I wish you happy, healthy, and thankful eating. Enjoy!


Back to School and Back to the Kitchen

No matter how old I am, my life continues to follow the rhythm of the school year. Here we are at back to school time, so I am naturally trying to get more organized, be a bit more disciplined, and figure out what supplies I need for the task at hand. In school days that meant new pencils, pens, folders, and notebooks. In “adult” days that means something different for each of us.

During the summer months I just don’t cook as much; our schedules are just too crazy. My favorite “back-to-school” tool is one that is enticing me back to the kitchen. It is a cookbook that was borrowed from a creative and fun vegetarian friend; an entire book of Veggie Burger recipes! Please don’t think of those tired dried out things being served in many restaurants; those are not at all an accurate representation of the delicious, healthy, and creative combinations that are possible.

There are a couple of tricks to keeping a good veggie burger together. The first is getting the amount of moisture just right, which is not very hard when following the instructions. The second is that they really are better fried in olive oil in a non-stick pan and then warmed through in the oven. This method leaves that golden crust on the outside that makes them look so beautiful and holds them together. It also gives us the opportunity to add some additional flavor with either a robust single varietal extra virgin olive oil or a flavor infused extra virgin olive oil.

The toppings provide another opportunity for easy and healthy flavor addition. Add a little Smoky Chipotle EVOO, Tuscan Garden EVOO, or Fresh Pressed Meyer Lemon EVOO to some mayonnaise and you’ve taken it to a whole new place. If you prefer to do more from scratch, check out this easy and delightful recipe for making your own flavor-infused mayonnaise: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/dining/easy-homemade-mayonnaise.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Anyway, the cookbook is called “Veggie Burgers Every Which Way,” by Lukas Volger. My favorite recipe from it so far is for Spinach-Chickpea Burgers. Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (fennel or caraway or a combination work well too)
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned work fine but when you get a chance, cook your own)
  • 2 eggs
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chick pea flour or more if needed (you can make your own chick pea flour by grinding dried chick peas in a spice grinder, mini-food processor, or blender or purchase it at a grocery store or at an Indian grocery, where it is sometimes called gram flour)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Toast cumin seeds in a dry skillet or saute’ pan over medium low heat
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of the EVOO and raise heat to medium. Add the spinach and cook, tossing with tongs, until the spinach is completely wilted, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer spinach and cumin seeds to a heatproof plate and allow to cool until safe to handle. Drain if necessary, wrap in a towel, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop mixture finely.
  4. Combine 1 1/4 cups of the chickpeas, the eggs, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles a chunky hummus.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the remaining 1/4 cup beans and mash coarsely with a potato masher. Add the bean-egg mixture and stir thoroughly. Fold in the chickpea flour. The mixture should be sticky but somewhat pliable. Add more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, if too wet, or a bit of water if too dry. Shape into 5 patties. (I did 4 bigger ones)
  6. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO in a non-stick saute’ pan over medium-high heat. (This is where you can get creative; F. Oliver’s Tunisian Harissa EVOO for some excellent spice, Fresh-Pressed Meyer Lemon EVOO for a citrus boost, or just a fabulous Single Varietal. I used the Cerasuola Single Varietal EVOO.) When hot, add the patties and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. If your pan is oven-proof, transfer the pan to the oven. If not, transfer the patties to an oven-proof plate or cookie sheet and place in heated oven. Bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes until the burgers are firm and cooked through.
  7. Serve with any toppings you prefer (lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard, mayo, etc; I like these with a thin slice of cheddar cheese and a grainy mustard) On a bun or not: your choice. (I love a good grainy or sour-dough roll drizzled with a little EVOO.)
  8. You might want to double the recipe and have some easy-to-reheat left overs.

I am back in the kitchen, motivated to try more of these tasty treats. Next up is cashew-leek burgers with bulgur and lentils, or maybe corn burgers with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese. They are easy, fun, and healthy; F. Oliver’s ultra premium extra virgin olive oils make them more so!


Olive Oil 102

In my last post we talked about why extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is good for us, what makes an olive oil an EVOO, and some simple things to look for when buying olive oil. This time, let’s take a look at olive oil that is not considered extra virgin; what exactly is it?

We discussed the measures that qualify an olive oil as Extra Virgin; they basically measure the quality of the fruit at the time of pressing. The next level down from EVOO is virgin olive oil, which is made from inferior olives, due to growing, picking, storage practices or to laxity in getting the olives to the press as quickly as possible. These olives could be bruised, rotting, or affected by fungus, and will result in an oil that doesn’t taste as good and will not deliver the health benefits of an EVOO. Like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, this oil is mechanically extracted, but will have Free Fatty Acid (FFA) and Peroxide (PV) measures outside of those required to be considered EVOO.

Oils that measure lower than a Virgin Olive Oil are not fit for human consumption as is and require refining with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. Refined oil is generally tasteless, odorless, and colorless; the health benefits of these oils range from neutral to negative.

The issue in the olive oil industry today, according to Tom Mueller’s book, Extra Virginity, is not that these varying grades of oil exist, but that in many cases refined olive oils or seed oils are blended with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil and labeled as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In the United States, most of us just don’t know what a high quality, ultra-fresh EVOO should taste like so we are often paying for what we think is EVOO and getting a markedly lower grade oil.

We at F. Oliver’s have been on the EVOO education trail since the beginning of the year. In addition to attending olive oil educational conferences and sensory evaluation classes, we have started to hold focused tastings of our EVOOs and other oils available in the Upstate New York market. We are learning to taste the components that help us discern the good stuff from the not-so-good stuff and the fresh from the not-so-fresh stuff.

Recently we were invited to do an educational tasting for a social group and, for the first time, brought some super market oils with us for comparison. Even though these were premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils the flavor differences between a year-old oil and a fresh oil were remarkable to all of us tasting, both trained and untrained.

If you are interested in learning more along with us, we invite you to come in to taste our oils (and vinegars!) anytime. If you would like to do some comparison tasting, we welcome you to bring in any other oils and vinegars that you would like. We even have an olive oil tasting wheel to help guide us as we taste.

The next natural question is one we get often, “which oil should I use when in my cooking?” Stay tuned for our next blog post. In the meantime, if you have questions or an interest in learning more about olive oil, stop by the store or give us a call anytime.


Olive Oil 101

I’m not a big fan of being preached at about health related issues and the healthy-ness or unhealthy-ness of products, but over the past five to ten years many of us have started using Extra Virgin Olive Oil for its health benefits and exquisite flavor. There is enough in the current press to incidate that we in the United States may be paying for what we think is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but not getting what we are paying for . Tom Mueller’s book,Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, (find more information at www.extravirginity.com) is an informative look at what is really in those bottles labeled “Extra Virgin Olive Oil made in Italy” and where to find the truly good stuff.We encourage you to check out the book or the website. But, if you are in a hurry and prefer the “Cliff Notes Version,” here are the highlights.

Why is Extra Virgin Olive Oil good for me?

Numerous studies show that olive oil reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, inhibits platelet aggregation, and lowers the incidence of breast cancer. Because it is so rich in antioxidants, olive oil appears to dramatically reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, thereby preventing heart disease. These same antioxidants also add to the stability, shelf life, and flavor of the oil. However, for an olive oil to provide these health benefits it must, at the very least, meet the standards required to be classified as Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

What makes an olive oil an Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

The International Olive Oil Council defines Extra Virgin Olive Oil as follows:

  • Mechanically extracted only from olives
  • Having a free fatty acidity (FFA) level of .8 percent or lower
  • Having peroxides at less than 20 milliequivalents per kilogram
  • Having passed a panel tasting test certifying that it is free of taste flaws.

The United States has not yet adopted this standard, which results in lesser grade oils being labeled as “extra virgin” while technically they are not.

Just what do “mechanically extracted,” “free fatty acidity level” (FFA) and “peroxides” mean?

Mechanically extracted means that no chemicals were used in the extraction of the oil from the olive.

Free fatty acids result when the olives are damaged by handling, insect infestation, fungus, or other problems that may occur when there are delays between picking and pressing the olive. In general, the higher the FFA, the more likely the oil is to be of poor quality. Experts state that .8 percent is actually too lax of a standard and that excellent extra virgin olive oils often have an FFA measure of .2 percent or lower.

The peroxide level measures the level to which the oil has been oxidized; higher measure = worse. Experts deem that the measure of 20 millliequivalents per kilogram is also too high and that an excellent EVOO will contain 10 meq per kilogram.

What should I look for when I am buying an Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

If you can’t trust the label and these measures are not available, how can you be sure that you are getting high quality extra virgin olive oil? For starters, look for freshness. Ideally, the label will include the harvest date of the olives; you want an oil that you will consume within 18 months of this date. Some brands will feature a “use by” date that is generally 24 months from the harvest date. We encourage you to buy oil that is not more than 12 months old.

As a service to you, F. Oliver’s will publish the harvest date for each of our single varietals, along with the FFA level, the peroxide level, and other components that we will discuss in future newsletters. For now, we welcome your interest and questions. We are proud to be the premium EVOO supplier in Upstate New York and want to serve as your source of information for all things olive oil.


This is It!

I was (rightfully!) chastised this week for getting so far behind on my blog postings, so here goes…….

This post is much different than it was originally intended to be. F. Oliver’s was so busy in July and August that it was all I could do to keep up with the business. Since then we have been actively preparing for Christmas, and now the season is upon us. So, in short, it’s been busy busy busy. After months of not posting, my first post back was going to be some cute, hopefully clever post about being so busy. But some other things have happened and cute and clever are not what come to mind.

During the last several weeks serious life situations have been on my mind. I learned that two of my friends’ husbands have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Another friend’s family mourned the tragic suicide of a young family member. Then yesterday a customer told me that the husband of a Kodak colleague (and friend) is fighting to keep working while untreatable cancer invades his body.

Hearing about these sad “real-life” situations always serves up a healthy dose of perspective and leaves life lessons to be learned and relearned. Today is only here today, so this is our chance to work, play, live, and love as we want our lives to be; this is it – no do-overs! The things that seem big are incredibly small in the scheme of things; not to overuse the tired, “don’t sweat the small things,” but….

Another lesson taught by these sad life situations is that we can all be oases of warmth and kindness in a high-tech, increasingly de-humanized world. While running the business well is important, F. Oliver’s is blessed with a kind and sensitive staff who respect and care for each other and who truly enjoy warmly hosting store visitors. Who knows what another person is dealing with in their life? If in the course of each of our daily business we can add a little warmth and happiness isn’t it our place in life to do so?

Yesterday, within an hour of hearing the latest sad news, a woman came into the shop carrying a baby carrier. While the mother tasted oils and vinegars, the baby slept peacefully. After I tried casually to catch a glimpse of the sleeping infant the mother unzipped the tiny sleeping bag for me to get a better look. I saw a perfect TINY little girl with fingers the size of a doll’s, a full head of dark shiny hair, and a lovingly placed pink ribbon around her small round head. The mother told me that she didn’t know until three days after the baby’s birth that the baby would be theirs to adopt and that the baby was truly an unexpected gift. At that moment I was struck by how happy life can be. How nice to work in an environment where people who were previously strangers can share these happy events with us.

So what about the oils and vinegars? Well, not to be preachy, but FRESH extra virgin olive oil is VERY good for you. It helps prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer. Vinegar aids digestion and builds our bodies in countless other ways. Beyond the health benefits though, repeatedly our customers share with us what they made with F. Oliver’s products and how much their family and/or friends enjoyed their creations. What could be more warm, loving, and nourishing than for a family or group of friends to share delicious healthy food and friendship around the dinner table?

Seize the day – it is only here today!


Inspiring Creative Growth

Corporate America leaves an indelible mark on a person. In some cases, such as using goofy acronyms and using words like “debrief” instead of “talk,” it’s not such a great thing. In other cases, like clearly defining objectives (or mission), it is quite a good thing. Does a small business need a mission statement? I don’t know, but establishing a mission statement is part of my corporate America DNA, so F. Oliver’s has one and here it is:

F. Oliver’s will inspire creative growth for its employees, customers and community and will attract a loyal following by offering

  • A professional, yet warm and welcoming environment
  • A distinct, fun, and informative store experience
  • The freshest and best selection of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars in Upstate New York

During the first days getting the store open and running I thought about the mission statement a couple of times and laughed to myself; it seemed like a silly, irrelevant luxury amidst the numerous nuts and bolts tasks requiring attention. Then some remarkable things happened.

First, customers started returning to tell me what they had made with their F. Oliver’s purchases. One had done a pasta dish with the Mediterranean Cassis Balsamic Vinegar and the Sage and Wild Harvest Mushroom Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Another made a “salsa” from tropical fruit, cucumbers, cilantro, and Creamy Coconut Balsamic with Fresh Pressed Persian Lime EVOO, then served it on grilled fish. A third person made a thin-sliced sirloin “pizza” with Smoky Chipotle EVOO and Dark Chocolate Balsamic. Not only did each dish sound DELICIOUS, but truly creative. Clearly, each home chef had fun with the products as well.

The other thing that happened concerned the front windows. I had contacted a visually creative person I know to see if, by some chance, she would be willing to help me figure out what to do with the store windows. By coincidence, she is studying painting in Canandaigua for a few weeks and agreed to stop by. Not only did she stop by, but realizing that we needed something in the windows ASAP she took what we had on hand – some fustis and tissue paper – and assembled beautiful, colorful, fun and interesting displays. People stopped walking by and started to notice us here on Main Street.

But it didn’t stop there. Over the weekend she shopped for the best looking faux flowers and plants at the best price and came back again with these beautiful items to replace the colorful tissue paper. Now there is a massive stainless steel fusti sporting a glorious sunflower arrangement in one window and a pyramid of fustis with assorted spring greenery and butterflies in the other. Flanking the adorned fustis are small bottle arrangements, tastefully displaying what we sell here because her research on how to do store windows suggested that you always need to display what you are selling.

Every time I look at the windows I smile, not only because the arrangements are so beautiful, but because it represents the kind, helpful, and generous nature of the designer. She has many hobbies, many friends, and, I’m sure, many things to do. Yet she has spent several hours researching, thinking about, shopping for, and assembling these bright beautiful F. Oliver’s advertisements. Just when I thought that I had received way more window design help than I had any business expecting, I received an email from her. She said that she has enjoyed this project as much as I have and that she is willing to redecorate the windows seasonally. Wow! How cool is that?

So, is F. Oliver’s fulfilling its mission to inspire creative growth? I can’t answer for anyone but myself. In my case the answer is a resounding yes. I am growing and becoming more creative in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. For our customers, if not growing creatively, at least it appears that many are thoroughly enjoying F. Oliver’s products and being very creative with them. For the window display artist, it feels like a stretch to say that F. Oliver’s inspired creative growth, but the store was at least a venue for inspired creativity. And – all of us have contributed to the “warm and welcoming environment” and the “distinct, fun, and informative store experience.” Business has been great, so maybe the mission statement isn’t an irrelevant luxury after all.

Stop by, we would love to share the F. Oliver’s experience with YOU and possibly inspire some creative growth.


My New Life as a “Shop Girl”

Yesterday I completed my first week working as a “shop girl.” Doesn’t that conjure images of a routine, mundane daily life? My week was anything but.

As a quick catch-up for those of you new to the F. Oliver’s blog, the store had been in its pre-opening phase for several days prior to last Tuesday, when we actually opened for sales. So, as of Tuesday, I started my position working the tasting and retail area of F. Oliver’s. Actually, I am the store’s owner and principal employee; my duties include everything from building the business plan and updating the cash flow projection to scrubbing the floor and taking out the garbage. Somewhere in the middle of that spectrum of responsibility is assisting customers as a “shop girl.”

For those of you who don’t have time to read the rest, here is the bottom line: Both F. Oliver’s and I had an excellent week! Thank you to all who made that possible. For those of you with a little time, following is the color commentary.

I’m still figuring out the rhythm of the day and week, but here are some anecdotes and highlights from week one:

If you are the only one minding the store, how do you gracefully visit the ladies room? So the store is empty at the moment, but it is guaranteed that the minute you duck into “the ladies” the bell on the door rings and one is left to finish thoroughly washing one’s hands and emerge, acting as if just coming up from the stock room, when everyone knows exactly where you are coming from. Oh well, at least “employees washed hands before returning to work” – and – I am cutting back on my morning coffee consumption.

Ditto lunch. My first day in the shop alone I didn’t make time to pack a lunch in the morning. By about 1:00 I was getting more than a little hungry. For those of you who haven’t visited the store yet, picture this: the cash area is a beautiful high table behind which one sits looking out at Main Street, Canandaigua. A fixture of decades on Main Street is Ken’s Doghouse, a renowned street stand selling some of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had. So here I am, starving, gazing at Ken’s Doghouse. After considering alternatives, I quickly put up the “back in 5 minutes” sign and ran over to Ken’s in my F. Oliver’s apron. During my 5 minutes at Ken’s, I experienced one of the most beautiful aspects of doing business in a small town. I ran into and chatted with my insurance agent, who introduced me to another Ken’s fan, George Hamlin, a big time local celebrity who is the President and CEO of Canandaigua National Bank, our incredibly well-run and growing “local” bank. I can’t wait to see who else I meet during future “back in 5 minutes” lunches.

Ken's Doghouse

It is really important to open in an organized manner at 10:00 if that’s what your hours are. I decided to do a quick errand one morning before opening. I was walking back up Main Street when I realized that it was a few minutes after 10. I thought to myself, “Oh well, no one really knows that we are open and who is going to be there at 10 anyway?” Wrong – I got back to the store and found 2 people waiting. When we all entered together there was a ladder in the middle of the store. That was a great message underscoring the reality that the store needed to immediately exit its development phase and become more officially run as a business.

There are two best parts to my new “job” at F. Oliver’s. As I mentioned earlier, my duties are varied and gratifying. I love “doing it all,” from figuring out the point of sale system to bottling product. Emptying the waste baskets and taking out the garbage isn’t bad at all either. At least you can see the results of your work.

The other best part is that I GET TO MEET NEW PEOPLE EVERY DAY! It is really fun and rewarding to become acquainted with people and to help them become acquainted with our products, and, not surprisingly, everyone so far has loved the products!

As the F. Oliver’s “About” Page states, “everyone from the novice cook to the seasoned chef can taste the difference.” I saw the spectrum of cooks this week and, based on the amount of product they bought, they did taste the difference. Based on the comments I received, they love the ambiance of F. Oliver’s as much as I do. I can’t wait to start my second week as a “shop girl.”


Freshly Filled Fustis

F. Oliver’s now has 36 fustis full of incredibly fresh oils and balsamic vinegars!

If you missed my previous post, a fusti is a stainless steel container specifically designed to store and pour oils and vinegars. Most of ours are 15 liter, but some are 5 liter; all came from Italy. The taps come separately and if they didn’t say “made in Italy” on them I would have thought that they were engineered and fabricated in Germany. It seems that we are all used to seeing flimsy, poorly made goods in stores; what a pleasure to have a store full of such beautiful, well-engineered, and well-made containers and taps.

Filled Fustis (with temporary labels)But the best part is what fills the fustis! For each product I noted the date that it was filled by the supplier; most were dated March and some dated late February. Of course I had to try a lot of them. This is probably the freshest product I have ever tasted; one can definitely taste the difference that fresh makes.

F. Oliver’s broad product line includes something for everyone. For a quick weeknight meal, a little Sage with Wild Harvest Mushroom EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) drizzled over ravioli or an omelette is delicious. The fresh delicate flavor of California Arbequina EVOO, which was just pressed early winter, would be beautiful in a light vinaigrette or with some delicate spring vegetables or herbs and seafood. The balsamics mix beautifully or are great on their own. I keep envisioning dipping a nice sharp cheese into the Felix Oliver’s Special Reserve Balsamic or the Royal Pomegranate Balsamic along with some fruit; yum.

Now that everything is filled we’ve been trying combinations. The Arromatic Oregano Light Balsamic mixed with the Fresh Bright Basil EVOO was a crisp herbal blend with buttery undertones – a very quick, delicious multi-use dressing. On the fruity side, the Farmstand Strawberry Balsamic with the Fresh Pressed Meyer Lemon EVOO was a knockout; would be great on greens or fruit salad, or with chicken or pork for that matter.

I can’t wait to welcome you here at F. Oliver’s to taste our wares. I know that you will find your own favorite products and combinations. Truly, there is something for everyone and for every situation, from pulling together a quick appetizer or entree to preparing a multi course slow-cooked meal. Welcome and Bon Appetit!


Out of Sight but Not Out of Mind

I am amazed at the amount of work that goes into opening a business. Aside from establishing the brand, systems and processes, finding excellent employees and acquiring inventory, just getting the store physically ready to open requires more work than one person can perform in the amount of time given, and, if help were hired, probably more expense than the business case could easily carry. F. Oliver’s has been extremely fortunate to benefit from “donated” labor on both large and small scales.

My husband, Eric, has to burn vacation this year owing to a new non-carryover policy at his company. While he easily could have spent his vacation time at Bristol Mountain skiing or going south to start the golf season early, he spent his time instead working at F. Oliver’s. More specifically he built (beautiful!) work tables and a portable wall, he fabricated and mounted room dividers and doors, assembled shelves, installed molding and door returns, painted, and even configured computer systems. Those of you who know him know that he does high quality work, regardless of where or by whom it will be seen. To him, “a job worth doing is worth doing well.” Every bit of what he’s done is done completely and beautifully, free of charge, and has taken hours and hours of hard work. No complaining, no grandstanding; he just gets the job done. His father even painted for two full days to help out!

Another behind the scenes worker is the property’s landlord, Mike Yarger. Truly the landlord doesn’t have to take part in renovations at all, and most prefer not to. Mike is different. When we learned that we needed to install a 3-bay sink and pull up some old, very grody carpeting, he found a solid sink at a great price and installed it. He not only pulled up the carpet, but used some tiles originally purchased for his home to install a beautiful Mediterranean tile floor in the storage and dishwashing room. When we learned that the furnace wasn’t operating as efficiently as it could, Mike installed heating vents and air returns that will result in higher comfort and lower utility bills for the F. Oliver’s team. Additionally, he’s installed a hand-washing sink, the infamous grease trap, and electrical outlets where required.

What I find interesting is that this work most likely won’t be noticed and admired by the public. But it does make the store operate a whole lot better and make it more attractive; in short the store will be a much nicer place to work. The work is out of sight, but far from out of mind as it will be noticed every single day behind the scenes and will help us to work better and more efficiently out front.

So, this post is a small but very sincere recognition of all the generously donated hard work that’s taken place behind the scenes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Riding the Wave

A friend once told me that it is important to “ride the wave” of the good times to carry you through the not-so-good times. It sounded a little too new-agey for me then, but I believe now that I understand better what she meant. To me it means be fully aware and appreciative during the good times and to carry that attitude into the bad times. There is always plenty for which to be appreciative even in what we think of as the bad times; the positive energy that comes from an appreciative attitude is a lot more motivating than what comes from focusing on the bad.

The “ride the wave” perspective carries over into the smaller parts of life as well. After my last post (which was also my first) I received a comment that the post didn’t adequately convey my excitement about starting my new business, F. Oliver’s. I thought about that a lot, reread the post, and agreed. Am I excited about starting the business? YES, YES YES! It is one of the most fun things that I have ever done. However, not every part of it is fun and exciting. So, I need to improve my wave riding so that the fun, exciting parts carry me through the not so fun and not so exciting aspects.

Like most everything else, the project of starting a business has phases. For me the first phase was becoming acquainted with a concept that seemed fun, fulfilling, and economically attractive. The second phase was considering and testing the concept to see if it really would work. The third phase was creating the brand, and the fourth was and is performing all the operational tasks required to bring the business to life. There are many, many tasks to be accomplished in this, the fourth phase!

I got a full dose of those tasks last week. Among other things, I filled out city permit applications, learned how to determine what size grease trap the business needs and then questioned the city code enforcer about whether we really do need a grease trap (according to him we do….), reviewed compliance with NY state requirements for our food processing permit, discussed furnace efficiency with the local heating and cooling expert and the benefit of adequate cold air returns with the landlord, learned how to paint over exterior aluminum, and determined that at this stage Pantone 377 is close enough to Pantone 382 to go ahead with printing. All necessary to get the business up and running, but not exactly my favorite parts of it.

Yesterday morning I picked up the large “coming soon” signs for the store windows, the first time to see the logo large and live. WOW! Last night, I received a proof sheet of all the product packaging artwork. DOUBLE WOW! I am thrilled to see the brand coming to life and to be back on the wave again. There are many more mundane tasks to be completed, but focusing on the emerging personality of the business energizes me tremendously.

Better yet, what’s coming to life results from the collaboration of talented, caring, and fun colleagues and friends. I am truly thankful to have the opportunity to be part of this exceptional team and to create something tangible with people that I like and admire; people who energize me.

Riding the wave alone is terrific; riding the wave with others is exponentially terrific.


The Birth of F. Oliver’s

“You’re going to open a store? In the middle of the recession? You’re going to sell Olive Oil and Vinegar? In Canandaigua? Have you lost your mind? What else are you going to sell? Nothing! What??” … then a polite smile and the sympathetic eyes that indicate a thought balloon reading, “You have no idea what you are doing and you’re going to be sorry.” Maybe so, but not yet.

So, yes, this is my newest venture. I am opening a store in Canandaigua where we will, at the start, sell only olive oils and balsamic vinegars; but not just any olive oils and vinegars. Hand crafted, small batch Extra Virgin Olive Oils – single varietals, flavor fused, and flavor infused; Balsamic Vinegars – 12-year old and 18-year old, and flavor infused. What does that mean? Details to follow.

What’s important to explain right now is what makes the store so special. Aside from the beautiful historic space where it is located and the caliber of people who will be working there is the store concept. All the products will be lined up in those big beautiful European looking stainless steel containers, called fustis, and every product (and delightful, delicious combinations of products!) will be available for tasting right from the fusti. We will bottle the product in our own branded F. Oliver’s bottles.

We plan to open soon…. in fact in so soon that the long to-do list is starting to keep me awake at night. I have never opened a business before. If you have, then you know that I don’t know what I don’t know. Got that? So, in the upcoming weeks I want to share with you our progress, triumphs, tribulations, and the general story of the birth of F. Oliver’s. AND – I sincerely hope to see you at the store.