BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
A fresh new crop of olive oil is headed your way ! This first press, or “olio nuevo,” is highly regarded by olive oil connoisseurs because it offers superb flavor, a slightly peppery taste, and lovely color. This gives an impressive advantage to California producers—they get their olive oil to you immediately after harvest.
Another advantage is that you’re buying a local California product. You won’t find better olive oil that at your farmers’ market where olive growers bring extra virgin olive oil that has been harvested, pressed, and bottled locally. Freshly harvested olives are brought from the field to the mill, where they are rinsed in fresh water and separated from the leaves and stems. Next, the olives are ground into a paste and the paste is mixed to encourage the oil to separate from the surrounding vegetable matter and water. Within days, this delicious elixir can be seen in the markets, ready for use at your table.
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality of oil. The flavor can be buttery and soft, or spicy and sharp. It can be reminiscent of pepper, lemon, or grass. Thanks to California’s range of growing conditions and olive varieties, there is a California extra virgin olive oil to suit every palate.
A few years back it was found that almost 69% of imported olive oil was not olive oil at all, but had been adulterated with other kinds of oil. California olive growers believe that consumers have a right to know what they’re getting and that is why the farmers’ market is a superb place to find pure, unadulterated California extra virgin olive oil. You’re support of local California growers, brands, and producers who work hard to uphold the highest quality standards within the olive oil industry is important to the local economy – and also for your health.
At the Martinez Farmers’ Market, visit Atlas Peak from the Napa Valley for the most exquisite olive oil you’ve ever tasted. They attend the market every other week so check with the market manager to seen when they will be in attendance. Recovering from a devastating fire they experienced a few years back, they are here and ready with their small batch olio nuevo olive oil. This oil is harvested in the fall and aged for a few months to develop flavor. Only after it is taste-tested and approved by the Hammond family is it brought to the consumer. After all, they’ve been producing olive oil on this land since 1892 !
Today the ranch is filled with hundreds of olive trees that fill the hillsides. On the east side of the ranch they have the Arbequina varietal olive trees, and on the west side of the ranch there is the Italian varietal Pendolino, Leccino, Frantoio, Maurino and Coratina. They still have the old Mission olive trees that were planted in the 1800s.Being in the olive oil business as long as they have means they know a thing or two about olive oil. You won’t find better than at Atlas Peak Ranch at your Martinez Farmers Market !
Here’s a recipe directly from Atlas Peak:
Atlas Peak extra virgin olive
1 large bunch of asparagus
Salt & Pepper
You’ll need a large baking dish or oven pan, place a sheet of aluminum foil to cover. Wash the asparagus and break off the tough ends. Place all the asparagus side by side on the foil. Drizzle your Atlas Peak Olive Oil over the asparagus; roll them back and forth enough to coat each spear, sprinkle a little salt and pepper, grate about ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese evenly over the dish. It’s ready to put in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.