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Adventures in Olive Oil

Exploring the world of California olive oil at We Olive in Walnut Creek.


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I thought I knew all about olive oil. Then I experienced a tasting with olive oil guru Mike Livitski.

Livitski co-owns We Olive, the downtown Walnut Creek shop that carries a dazzling array of locally grown, California Olive Oil Council–certified, extra virgin olive oils. Livitski guided me through a tasting, much like a wine tasting, and I quickly learned tips and terms for discerning flavors and selecting favorites.

Like wines, the oils come in single varietals (pressed from Picholine and Arbequina olives, for example) as well as blends (most mass-market brands). “There are over 200 varieties of olives worldwide,” Livitski explains.

Choosing the right oil depends on your tastes and food pairings. Livitski recommends sampling five or six, enough to appreciate subtle and sensational differences and not confuse the palate.

“Fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency—or pepperiness—are the positive characteristics you want to look for,” he says.

Here are some of my favorites:

We Olive’s Meyer Lemon Infused Olive Oil
The shop’s top seller is sweet and tart, and features in salad as well as dessert recipes.
Hillcrest Ranch
Buttery and nutty on the front end, it finishes with a strong peppery back end. Perfect over salads, pastas, and soups.
Olio Nuevo
This recently milled, unfiltered oil is nutty, grassy, and thick. Use for dipping and in marinades; drizzle over tomatoes or cheese.
Tres Osos
Bitter with a mild pepperiness. Blend with balsamic vinegar for dipping or use as an accent atop soups and sautéed vegetables.

Visit the store any time for a free tasting. Check walnutcreek.weolive.com for recipes, food pairing suggestions, and an online calendar with Meet the Grower and other in-store special events. CLICK HERE to read about We Olive's cooking classes.

We Olive, 1364 N. Main Street Walnut Creek, (925) 280-4574, walnutcreek.weolive.com

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