Working A Tasting Room

When working in a tasting room, you never know who is going to walk through the door. The guests might be completely new to olive oil or they might be experts. They may want an in depth tasting or they may just be interested in one type. Fortunately, we have something for everyone. However, being mentally prepared for everyone takes a little more work.

The key is knowing your own strengths. Personally, I love food. Eating is one of my favorite things to do. Therefore I’m more likely to talk about food pairings than say the health benefits of olive oil. I have a background in science but I know that not everyone is going to be interested in that aspect of olive oil. So, not only is food a topic I enjoy but it’s something everyone can enjoy. The tastes of the different oils are going to speak for themselves. Everyone is going to have their own reactions to each of the oils. But, by engaging the guests in a topic that everyone loves, the experience is going to be more enjoyable for everyone involved, myself included.

A family came in the other day. They had never done an olive oil tasting before. The two little girls were so incredibly excited to hear that our White Peach Balsamic goes great on vanilla ice cream (the younger one’s favorite flavor) while their older brother was more interested in trying our Chili oil on popcorn. After their mother and I swapped tips for mashed potatoes with our Leccino olive oil they headed straight to Safeway for supplies.

You never know what’s going to stick with someone. So talk about what you know and love. Excitement is contagious!

Olive Fly: Time to Start Spraying


The olive fruit fly, Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) (Diptera:Tephritidae), is an important pest to be very aware of if you grow olives (Olea europaea). This pest was introduced and invaded California around 1998, and spread rapidly throughout the state and northern Mexico (Rice et al., 2003). It is very prevalent in Europe.

We are spraying our trees every other week. Some growers spray each week. Each time we spray every other row and then alternate each two weeks. I always spray each of the border trees. Not sure if it makes a difference but it makes sense to me to set up a barrier. I spray a target spot on each tree about the size of a dinner paper plate, at mid-level of the tree. I must admit that I have a great time spraying, me in the early morning, with little Casey riding along beside me. With coffee in hand and dog biscuits, we drive around the property and watch the birds and inspect each tree.

Paul Vossen is one of the leading experts in olive growing in California. His chapter in Organic Olive Production in the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication No. 3505 from 2007 is very relevant and worth reading. Along with his co-author Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, Mr. Vossen states that this is the most economically significant pest of olives. If you spray you can save up to 80% or more of the crop. This is very economically important.

Per Mr. Vossen, “The Olive Fruit fly belongs to the family Tephritidae, a group that includes such economically important flies as the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), the walnut husk fly (Rhagoletis complete), the apple maggot (R. pomonella), and the Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis). Chapter 6, Pg. 47.

olive fly maggot

An adult can lay 50 to 400 eggs in a lifetime, one in each olive. As the maggot grows it eats the inside of the olive and destroys the fruit.

To prevent this destruction we spray with GF-120 Naturalyte a bait spray using the active ingredient Spinosad. Spinosad is a fermentation byproduct of the actinomycete bacteria Saccharopolyspora spinosa. Hence the name spinosad. This is a certified organic spray. It seems to have little effect on honey bees and ladybugs.

Begin spraying early and continue into the Fall harvest. We inspect each batch of olives and may reject olives that are heavily infested as this will affect the taste of the oil. And we do not want olive flies here at our Farm.

Call us if you have any questions or problems with olive fly. We can help you with some small amounts of GF-120 if you have only a few olive trees.

What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello: Calabrian Beans

At the Green Valley Farmers Market and at IL Fiorello we presented a beautiful dish of Cici Beans, or chick peas, cooked with a soffrito and olive oil. This recipe was presented to a group of Chefs from the Michael Mina Group restaurant RN74 during a comparative oil tasting. We paired the dish with a very robust Mission Olive Oil and it was very well received.

We wanted you to have the recipe. Feel free to change up the ingredients to suit your taste profile.

Begin with soaking dry cici beans in lots of fresh water over night, at least 12 hours.

In the morning rinse the beans thoroughly with fresh water.

Next chop a white onion, a red onion, celery, garlic, and gently sauté in olive oil until the vegetables are translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is called a soffrito in Italian and a mirpoix in French. The amounts are about a cup of each of the onions and celery and 2-4 heads of garlic or more to taste.

The next step is to combine the soaked cici beans with the soffrito, add more olive oil to cover and let cook in a crock pot for at least 10 hours or until tender but not soft. Serve in bowls with a sprinkling of herbs or cheese or cut fresh tomatoes. This dish gets even better the next day as the herbs have time to soak into the dish.



Not Your Grandmother’s Olive Oil

You may be use to olive oil that your grandmother served, the kind that stays under the cupboard and comes in tin cans, too often rancid and adulterated. The oils of IL Fiorello are single varietal, early harvest for good pungency and certified extra virgin. At the New York International competition our oils were awarded Gold Medals and we were named as one of the world’s best olive oil producers

Individual varietal oils have distinctive flavors and are paired with foods that complement each flavor. Many Americans are not used to the distinct flavors of excellent olive oil and may not understand how to use freshly milled 100% olive oil with a robust taste and full flavor. At IL Fiorello we teach guests how to taste oil, how to use oil, and what extra virgin olive oil really tastes like.


As an olive miller and grower there are many factors to consider when producing oils:

Variety of Olive. There are many varieties of olives. We are growing eight varieties, each with its own distinctive flavor. Before we planted a tree we tasted many oils, both in the US and in Europe, and then made a decision which variety to plant. Each olive has a unique taste and many mature at different times. During harvest time we are always out in the grove making decisions about when to harvest and which varietal to harvest. Our varieties are Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Mission, Taggiasca, Moraiolo, Aglandau and Bouteillan.

Time of Harvest. The general rule is to harvest early for robust oil and harvest later for a more mellow oil. Early harvest tends to produce oils that last longer and a later harvest tends to make oils that are mellower but lose their flavor profile more quickly. But, this is also very varietal dependent. Our olives are hand harvested and are milled within 2-4 hours of being picked. Some olives can rest after harvest for 12-24 hours. No longer should you harvest during the week and then bring the olives to the mill on the weekend.

Method of Milling. We mill, we do not press. Centrifuges have replaced presses. Today there is no such thing as “first cold press”, which you will still find on labels. We don’t press olives; we mill olives, 14 hours a day during harvest. Heat is necessary to extract the oil. We use gentle heat very carefully to help extract oil, without damaging the quality. The term “first cold press” is from long ago and far away and not relevant to olive oil milling today. We use Pieralisi designed centrifuges with very little oxygen exposure. The efficiency of the centrifuges allows for better extraction of the oil from the olives.

Method of Storage. After milling, perfect storage is critical to olive oil. The oils are stored at a temperature of 62°F covered with an inert gas and left quiet. Decanting occurs after 2-3 months.

Olio Nuovo and Extra Virgin Oil. Olio Nuovo is new oil, oil that has just been milled, fresh robust and very intense. This is special oil but it only lasts a few weeks as this robust oil. This is our favorite oil. After milling in November and December, we allow the oil to rest. The sediment settles and then we decant the oil in January and February. Decanting prevents the defect of “winey”, as the sediment may ferment and taint the oil.

EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil certification. Certification from the COOC (California Olive Oil Council) and UC Davis Olive Center, ensures that you purchase only olive oil, no additives, no adulteration, and the oil meets specific International and California standards.

Olive oil is one of the few foods that must pass both a chemistry test and a taste test.

The chemistry panel tests for components that indicate the oil is fresh and has no decomposition before milling, and it is only olive oil. Tests for polyphenols and DAGS indicate oxidation or degradation of the oil.

The taste test involves a master taste panel using organoleptic methods to detect flaws in the oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil can only contain olive oil. So labels saying “100% EVOO” or “Pure EVOO” are redundant and confusing. Co-milled flavored oils cannot be extra virgin by law. This is a buyer beware or buyer be aware business.

Tasting Olive Oil. Each oil must be balanced with the taste of olive fruit, bitterness, and pungency. If the oil is not in balance it may not be certified extra virgin. There are many tasting evaluation scorings cards, but fruitiness and balance are extremely important. You also cannot discuss olive oil without talking about the food. In our tasting room we discuss the balance of oils, the unique characteristics, and suggestions as to the use of the individual oils. Color of the oil is irrelevant to the taste profile.

Presentation to guests. Take the opportunity to explain what variety of oil they are tasting. The taste diversity of oils is similar to the taste diversity of wines. This discussion gives everyone another opportunity to interact with guests. When preparing food with oils, the addition of acidity while using oils may be equally important in the overall flavor profile. Use the balance of spice, sweetness, acidity and richness (Mina 2006) with the addition of bitterness and pungency to make a balanced presentation.

What Do You Eat When You’re Alone!

I collect cookbooks and one of my favorite books is What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Stories and 100 Recipes by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. Deborah Madison is the author of many cookbooks; all are very good. Deborah is the former owner of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and a Chef who, when we were talking about cooking, described herself to me as a vegophile.

This book was published in 2009 and the forward reads “This book is dedicated to all who find themselves alone at the table. May your solitary meals be delicious and the company just as good.” What a wonderful statement! Madison goes on to say, ”Our relationship with food is one of the defining and intimate relationships of our lives; it says a lot about who we are and how we live.” This book is a sneak preview into the private lives of people, all kinds, some who cook and some who don’t, but the book is more of a thoughtful, funny, presentation of human behavior surrounding food. The illustrations are wonderful and done by her husband Patrick McFarlin. This is a really good read, not unlike another favorite author MFK Fisher. But I will write more about MFK Fisher and her tangerine segments on the radiator in another blog.

So why am I eating alone?

Last week Mark went to a private financial meeting in San Francisco and I got to eat alone. Rather, sort of alone, but for the company of 8 cats and one dog, all of whom follow me everywhere. But the crew aside, I do love a solitary evening just to relax and think and cook. Just follow the pictures and you will have a nourishing dinner. So away you go into my solitary meal. Enjoy.

Take Three ingredients out of the pantry.

Take three ingredients out of the pantry.

And a very good olive oil!

And a very good olive oil!

Don't forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta

Don’t forget the good wine to also keep good company while boiling the water and cooking the pasta












While the pasta is cooking make a salad or just have perfect tomatoes for a snack.

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Delicious speckled trout lettuce gift from a friend

Fresh tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes








Now back to the pasta

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Open the cans and get the bowl ready

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Drain the pasta and add the two cans, have a sip of wine

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!

Add the seasoning, salt pepper, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes OR NOT!






Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Toss together add cheese if you so desire

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company

Sit down enjoy dinner in silence or dance to the music of good food and good company






















What’s Cooking at Il Fiorello

The garden is in full gear and we need to use some of the Bright Lights Chard and fresh sweet tomatoes: add goat cheese and life is good.

IL Fiorello hosted Keith and Kathy, Kathy’s Mom, and Brandon for a visit and tour on Sunday. Keith and Kathy are friends of IL Fiorello and we have been San Francisco Symphony partners since 1981. A long time. They live and practice ENT in the peninsula area where they grew up. We first met at UC Davis when Keith was in the ENT residency program and we worked very closely together. They have heard all the stories about the olives and the mill, so an actual visit to our Olive Farm was long overdue.

Sunday brunch is such a fun meal where everyone is relaxed, happy, and can drive home early to watch baseball, play golf in the afternoon, or in teen age Brandon’s case play computer games. After a walking tour of the hospitality center, the groves, the culinary gardens, and our new olive mill, everyone needed food. As Kathy says exercise is for people who want to chow. Yes! Yes! Yes! We agree.

We began brunch with Girl on the Hill Malbec Rose’ perfectly chilled light and fresh. This wine is my definition of a classic summer Sunday Brunch wine. We served puff pastry tarts, with goat cheese. One tart had chard and leeks and the other fresh very sweet tomatoes from our culinary garden. The chard and leek tart was finished with our International award winning Frantoio oil to balance the tartness of the chard. The tomato tart was finished with our other award winning Leccino oil. Not a crumb was left and everyone was satisfied.

Dessert was vanilla ice cream with strawberry-rhubarb compote finished with our Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. This is an easy sweet and tart combination that works with any fruit and our balsamic vinegar reductions.


Bright Lights Chard and Leek Tart

Pre boil the sliced leeks until tender, about 6 minutes.

Sauté the Chard in the olive oil until tender.

Prepare the goat cheese the same way as for the tomato tart

Spread it on the pre- baked puff pastry

Add the leeks and the chard and bake at 425 F for 22 minutes or until leeks and chard are tender.


As I was making quite a few tarts and the oven was hot, I just added all the extra left over ingredients into a tart for my dinner. After a long day at the Olive Farm coming home to a lovely dinner and a glass of crisp white wine is the prefect ending to a perfect day.

Buy Local to Avoid Economic Adulteration






This Spring we attended a conference at the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, titled Fighting Economic Adulteration in the Market Place. The Secretary of California of Food and Commerce was the key note speaker. Secretary Karen Ross defined that “economic adulteration is the fraudulent, intentional substitution or addition of substances in foods or beverages to increase the apparent value of quality of the product, while reducing the cost of its production”.

In California, as it pertains to olive oil, anyone who uses the term Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the label must have the certification seal on the bottle. This is an industry standard that has international implications as much of the oil in the US is adulterated with seed oils that are chemically and high heat refined oils. According to Secretary Ross, “this is an illicit activity for economic gain”.

The top adulterated products according to the speakers at this conference are olive oil, lemon juice, honey, maple syrup, saffron, milk, orange juice and apple juice. Extra Virgin oil can have no additives, and in modern times there is no such thing as first cold press. Most of the producers are milling with centrifuges and not pressing and making olive oil requires some heat for the chemical reaction to take place to produce oil.

So buyers beware, but more importantly buyer BE AWARE.

Buy local, talk with your producers, and trust but verify.

Visit us at IL Fiorello 2625 Mankas Corner Road Suisun Valley where we grow and mill our own olives.

Beyond Bread and Salad

More innovative uses of IL Fiorello Extra Virgin Olive Oil


We all love dipping fresh bread in olive oil with a little vinegar. We all love olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a fresh salad dressing. But think beyond bread and salad and expand the uses of bread, olive oil and vinegars.

Try toasting slices of bread in the broiler or outside over the hot grill, rub with a raw garlic clove and sprinkle with olive oil. When we are milling olives, we always have a fire in the outdoor grill and dinner is toasted bread and fresh oil. If we are lucky Joe from across the street joins us with his wine and roasted chestnuts. Other options are a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil Italian variety on red or white gazpacho or Tuscan bean soup. Or just bake or sauté beans and drizzle with oil at table.

We all love extra virgin olive oil on salads but let us think beyond salad greens. Try sprinkling olive oil on freshly grilled zucchini or tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over a fresh avocado, sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of mission lemon oil and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Sauté spinach or collard greens with lemon and garlic and drizzle with Mission variety oil at the table. See the recipe section for how to do this dish in ten minutes.

At the end of a long day just cook spaghetti, drizzle with olive oil and the zest and juice of one lemon. Open a bottle of Girl on the Hill Red Wine blend and enjoy life. Simple, easy, healthy and delightful.

Saving the best for last is olive oil ice cream made for us by Executive Chef Marvin Martin. We especially like his vanilla bean made with Leccino variety oil and chocolate with tangelo. Just melt in your mouth wonderful.

Think beyond just dipping bread in oil and expand your horizons to further enjoy the many uses of extra virgin olive oil. Look ahead in the next blog for expanded uses of balsamic vinegars beyond just salad greens.

The Owls of Il Fiorello

We have an owl! There are lots of owls in the valley but this one has chosen to grace us with her presence. Earlier this year we had an eagle and then found remnants of an owl that became dinner. We did not think that we would have owlets this year. BUT! On Saturday June 29, I walked around the corner to water our roses and wisteria. To my surprise found a very large and not so friendly owl on the ground facing in my direction. It was clearly a teenage owl as it had full feathers and some pin feathers. He was very hot and in distress from the heat. After consulting Wildlife Rescue and Bird Rescue we ran a hose with a water mister close to the bird and within an hour it was obviously much better.

Owls can be dangerous birds as they are predator birds with large beaks and large talons. Do not approach the birds as they will be aggressive, even if they are ill. We have owl boxes on the property to control rodents, and support good agricultural practices. We would rather have the owls control the little critters that eat our trees than use pesticides.

On Sunday morning we arrived to find the owl in the tree branches and much happier, the wings were closed and eyes shut just riding the branches of the tree with the wind.

Today Jenny and I went out to check on the birds and there were two on the perch outside of the box. We were very happy to see them healthy and enjoying the Suisun breezes. Mark then went out and declared that there are three teenage owls. So of course we named them Olive, Olivia, and Oliver.

I hope you enjoy their pictures. They are very wary and move back into the house if I get close. We do not want to disturb them as they need the breeze to cool off. We are taking pictures with a very long lens so as not to disturb them.

We treasure the presence of the owls and respect that they are wild and aggressive birds. We hope sharing these pictures will give you a sense of what it is like to live on a working farm.

Italy and Scotland Part 3



MONDAY MAY 20, 2013

Again we woke up early to the sounds of the geese, dogs and doves of the castle and surrounding area. We had another lovely breakfast in the morning room, and delicious cappuccino courtesy of Pierro. With many fond goodbyes and thank yous to the family, we were on the road to Milan. What a lovely drive through the center of the Langhe made very easy by our GPS. The entire drive was punctuated by a castle on each mountain top.

Linate airport in the South area of Milan is small and very easy to find. Then on the plane to Scotland and our friends the Hoggs. The Hoggs met us at the Edinburgh airport. We were late in arriving because of a huge storm in the area and it indeed was pouring rain. Jim and Liz are special people and Callum is wonderfully healthy and happy. We had dinner and talked late into the evening. They live in a touchingly beautiful small town about ten miles from Edinburgh.

Linlithgow has a canal where you can rent a flatboat and float to Glasgow. If we had a month you can bet that we would be floating.



Sightseeing in Scotland. This is so lovely and restful. Finally I can read the street signs but the challenge is driving on the opposite side of the road and the steering wheel is on the right side also. Mark did a great job keeping things straight and only a few minor times did we wonder what we were doing.

We walked the dogs up to the moors and delighted at the greenness of Scotland. It was Spring again! How lucky am I to have Spring three times this year, California, Italy and now Scotland? We picked up Elisabeth at the airport. She had traveled over 5 hours just to get to the airport in Milan, then a two hour flight. We were all ready for some Scottish whiskey at that point.



We spent the day in Edinburgh walking around town seeing the castle, walking down main streets. We had Indian food for lunch and walked some more. We toured shops and walked around some of the old areas.

Everyone was excited as some member of Royalty was at their home in Edinburgh, as the Royal flag was flying. We never found out who that might be, and they did not call us for tea. Off to a pub for a pint, I had refreshingly good hard cider. My friend Laura has this as her usual afternoon spot of pick me up. Now I really know why. Then off to dinner at Café St. Honoree. This is a place that was recommended by Elisabeth’s friends from Scottish Slow Food. It is a small restaurant with great atmosphere and delicious local fresh food. Then home via train and a short walk up the hill to bed.



We drove from Edinburgh to Glasgow then to Taychreggan Inn near Oban on the West Coast of Scotland.

Check out their web site at The road to Taychreggan is one lane with little tiny passing areas. You have to be patient and give way to oncoming cars. Everyone waves and smiles as you pass by inches. There is much to see long haired, long horned Scottish highland cows.

There are lots of white and black sheep with new babies, some with twins. I could not take enough pictures to do it justice. Just as you have had enough of the tiny road you turn into the driveway of this old drover’s inn, originally from the 18th century, to perfect peace at the side of Lock Awe. The water is crystal clear, the lake flat with the reflections of the old inns on the other side of the loch and the total silence of nature. Our rooms looked out over the lake and with wide open windows you smell forest and water.

In the common rooms tea is served every afternoon, we opted for a unique scotch as we did not have to drive anywhere. Peaty scotch with a lake view at the conclusion of a long drive is perfect.

Dinner was superb served in an impeccable dining room, kind service and extraordinary food. The Chef has a Michelin One Star Rating. All the food is local, fresh, and prepared very well. This Chef has a way of presenting food that is not overly fancy but artistic and soul satisfying. Great flavors, colors and combinations. We concluded dinner with coffee, tea, and some sweets.



We had a typical huge Scottish breakfast, duck eggs, sausages, bacon bread and haggis. Then off to Oban about 20 miles away. We wound our way back through the very tiny road and then directly west toward the ocean. Oban is a tiny fishing village, now packed with tourists from all over. Ferries go in and out as do tourist tours of the nearby islands. We had the obligator fish and chips but not wrapped in a newspaper as they used to do. Just a normal take away carton. Tasty but fried and a little greasy to my taste, but it did not stop us from sampling. We walked the city and watched the ferry boats go in and out. We visited the Oban distillery, took the tour and sampled the whiskey. Great tour, lots of history and information, plenty to purchase. I can highly recommend Oban.

Then back to another very special dinner at Taychreegan Inn. This time we were able to meet the Chef and applaud his talent. He really has a gift.



We had a late breakfast and said goodbyes to the staff with absolute promises to come back. Taychreegan is one of the perfect places in this world to rest and recover and enjoy life. I will definitely try to come back again for a much longer stay. Our friends from LA Hank and Harva are planning a visit with us next Spring. What fun!

We then drove from one side of Scotland to the other; our route takes us through the highland mountains to Inverness. The landscape took us by surprise via huge mountains with waterfalls and high mountain meadows and beautiful Lochs.

We followed the Lochs, Loch Awe, to Loch Linnhe, to Loch Lochy, to Loch Ness and Inverness. We stopped in Fort William at the top end of Lock Lochy. This is a beautiful area for fishing and boating and tourists. We visited Urquhart castle, a historic very old place on Loch Ness. We did not see the elusive Nessie, but tried hard to watch for her as we drove along the way.

We arrived at Culloden house in the late afternoon. Stunning is hardly the word, huge front lawn, long drive way and a history to the 1400′s. The Georgian Mansion was built in 1788. Please take a look at As we have been involved with both Taychreggan and Culloden house for years, we were greeted with warm handshakes and Scottish hospitality. Each night the guests were piped to dinner each by a kilt clad bagpiper, very romantic. His bagpipes announce dinner and the evening activities. It made for a special introduction to the history of Culloden house and Scotland. Dinner is served by gregarious Scotsman who are always happy and make you feel very welcome even in these very formal dining rooms. I had a traditional Scottish dinner with haggis and venison and blood pudding. Mark had pigeon; a wild game bird done in a wine sauce, Elisabeth had fresh caught scallops. This was quite a lovely meal to remember. We had a wee nip of scotch before bed and slept again with windows wide open.



Up early to a Scottish breakfast with farm fresh eggs and local sausage, toast always on the table for jams and sweet cream butter. Great coffee and teas. We took a walk in the walled garden of Culloden, five acres of manicured flowers and trees. After having spring in California, we had another two weeks of spring in Italy and now being so far north another Spring in Scotland. The tulips were gorgeous, and the fruit trees just beginning to bloom. We drove North and stopped at a sweet farm shop to have tea and sandwiches.

It was hard not to buy every plant and seed in the place. I found a lovely tree with pink and green leaves; I will have to locate it at home. We then drove on to visit the Black Isle Brewery, with a super tour and a great tasting. They bottle 50 thousand bottles of beer each month and are growing fast. They have a cow, chickens for eggs, and a herd of black sheep that all had little woolly black babies. Each pasture had many tiny kids or twins bleating for their mom’s and dinner. So very beautiful.

We had dinner by the River Ness and took a long walk to the castle and then back to Culloden. Still quite light at 11 pm as we are so far North.



We visited Fort George the current home of Black Watch. It is right on the River Ness as it runs into the Firth of Forth then into the ocean. The currents are strong and there are often dolphins playing in the changing tide. We unfortunately did not see any today, but wasn’t for the lack of looking. On the way back we stopped at a sign that said CHEESE! Of course we would. We drove up a tiny road, barely a one lane hoping that we could make it to the cheese place before their farm tractor heading our way blocked our way into nirvana. This is the home of Connage Highland Dairy, fully organic, with their own herd of Holstein and Guernsey cows. Owners Callum and Cameron are master cheese makers and dairy farmers. This cheese shop makes their own and ages for themselves and other local dairy farms. They were just finishing making cheese in their impeccably clean cheese production plant. In the shop they had just installed an aging area with a wide assortment of lovely local cheese. We purchased their crowdie a soft cheese for spreading. On the wall in their tasting room is a picture of a huge cheese wedding cake they had just delivered. This wedding cake was beautiful, and according to the owners many people have ordered this “cake” instead of the traditional wedding cake. What a marvelous idea. View them at

Back to Culloden House for a rest and then our last dinner in Scotland, being piped to dinner again, magnificent!



We sadely leave Inverness, drive three hours back to Edinburgh and then on to Paris to stay overnight and catch the Air France flight home to San Francisco. The drive from Inverness down to Edinburgh is green with huge mountains and more castles. Time is our limiting factor but we explore some of the small towns. Unfortunately we did not have time to tour the Dalwhinny Distillery, one of my favorite whiskeys. It is situated in a deep green valley next to a river for their water source. The buildings are painted pure white, I presume white washed with black lettering. Check out their web site and by all means try their product which is available here in the US.

So off to Paris, Elisabeth is staying in Edinburgh on a few more days to meet with friends from Slow Food. She will have friends all over the world because of her study at the University of Gastronomic Science. We landed in Paris at Charles de Gaulle airport and only my bag arrived. So off we went to lost luggage to track Marks bag. Everyone was very nice since we were not yelling at them as some people were doing. They have put a tracking number out and will call us at the hotel. We stayed at the Golden Tulip just outside of the airport with free transport by the CGD Black transit bus. Very easy! We were up early in the morning, but still no bag. We walked around the small French town surrounding the string of hotels that are hosts to all the world travelers using CDG. Ah France, I wish we could stay here longer. We went to the airport early to find the bag which had been located at the airport and just had it put on the plane to San Francisco.

Or so we thought.

Upon boarding I happened to look out the window only to see Marks bag sitting on the tarmac with 5 French baggage handlers looking suspiciously at the bag. We contacted the Air France steward who ran down to the group and explained to them that we identified the bag from the plane and they needed to put it on the plane. A very French discussion took place, airport security was called, and the bag was screened again, and finally put on the plane. This bag held our gifts of Scotch whiskey and we were not going to let anybody loose it! Many thanks to the steward and we took off with the bag safely on board.



Home arrival safely only to realize how lucky we are to have been able to travel to such wonderful places and meet such wonderful people. Now back to work on the farm and the business of growing olives and making oil.

Custom Milling

Bring us your olives to be crushed in our state of the art Italian mill.



Taste extra virgin and co-milled flavored olive oils.


Il Fiorello Blog

Keeping you up to date on all things olive and olive oil.


Custom Milling

Bring us your olives to be crushed in our state of the art Italian mill.



Taste extra virgin and co-milled flavored olive oils.


Il Fiorello Blog

Keeping you up to date on all things olive and olive oil.