OLIVE OIL AND FOOD

What do consumers want from their food, and what can a good olive oil deliver? Simple: better taste and better health.

 At IL Fiorello, we maintain that real, certified olive oil paired with good real food is always the best combination and complement for each other.

It is a simple combination, maybe too simple for people to believe it to be true. There is no magic bullet. However, study after study is showing this to be the simple answer. Stop using fake olive oil, use the real stuff. Stop buying prepared prepackaged foods. Use real foods. 

Do not buy olive oil that isn’t certified in California. That certification is for your consumer protection. Extra Virgin Olive oil is only olives, nothing else. It is not oil with a hundred additives. If you want other flavors simply add fresh garlic, fresh basil, or other fresh ingredients when you are preparing foods. Who wants year old garlic in your oil? Use fresh!

If you pay attention, use real food, and real olive oil, you will reap the benefits of better all-around health. Some researchers are saying that the balanced Mediterranean diet, using extra virgin olive oil, leads to better thinking, looking and feeling better, and improved stamina and performance. That is a real benefit.

I look for taste in this mix. Better taste – more enjoyment better food.

Protect yourself, use the real stuff. It is very good and really simple.

 

Ciao

Ann

 

 

MILLING COMPLETED 2018

Milling is done for the year 2018, and we have learned many lessons about olives. Yet again, Mother Nature rules and Farming is a risky business.

Olives are a cyclical fruit, and most growers were down in crop volume from 60% to 80 % this year. Additionally, many people did not even harvest their meager crop. We knew that last year was one of the largest years on record; so, this year would be light. But not this light. Some of the crop reduction is due to the frost at blossom set time last Spring. Some is due to heavy pruning after the large crop of last year. Some is due to…who knows what, back to that risky business stuff.

Many growers were caught between harvesting grapes and harvesting olives. Here in Northern California, wine grapes are usually their primary crop. Olives come second. No climate change, HUH? The very first season we harvested olives, the date was Nov 11. Today, we are harvesting in early October.

The olives that came in were generally overripe. They had a lot of olive fly. Even if everyone sprayed with the only organic spray we have for fly, GF 120 Spinocid, there were less olives so more flies per olive. Some oils may not pass certification because of fly infestation and dryness. This is such a hard year.

One of our growers said to me” this doesn’t taste like my olive oil” my answer…No one’s oil tastes the same this year. Including IL Fiorello. Our oil is very different, not bad or good different, but very different. All the oils we milled tasted different, much less aroma, more bitterness. If you asked us to under-malax the oils, your oil developed with virtually no flavor and you received significantly less volume. If we correctly malaxed, the time in the malaxer for the oil to coalesce, the extraction volumes were enormous, but the flavor was flat. Such an unusual year. Some companies have had to import oil to fill their orders. Strange year.

We have lots of oil to carry us through to next season. (Am I really talking about next season already?) But this year is so very different. It seemed a real struggle to manage the harvesting and milling.

Our mill was better balanced this year; so, the machine was a joy to run. At least one very good aspect of the past harvest season. Our staff is a well-oiled team, so to speak. We have fun working together, and producing great products.

All in all, the operative words are done, finished, complete. Now to bottling and selling certified extra virgin olive oil.

Come visit us and talk olives

Ciao
Ann

THANKSGIVING 2018

This is the time for giving thanks. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Milling is finishing. We have made great oils. The days are cooler. Family and friends gather to celebrate a uniquely American Holiday.

We always cook our turkey outside in the grill. The aroma of the coals and turkey enticing us to finish all the side dishes, and celebrate with a glass of Champagne. My Mother would always say “let me finish the gravy and then I can have a Martini”.  I will raise a glass for her this Holiday.

Wine is poured. Blessings for the harvest are said, and we all have a grand time together.

Sunset over the Mill at Il Fiorello

Our table will be smaller this year, but not necessarily quieter. With one daughter working in Italy and the other in Australia in school, phone calls will suffice for the places at the table.  All enjoying a table of gifts and celebrations.

Thanks to all the IL Fiorello staff new and old, all young at heart and thankful for jobs and good lives. Thanks to all our guests and supporters, without you IL Fiorello would be not nearly as much fun.

Celebrate and give thanks for new oil, and always look forward to spring, and a new crop of olives.

Here are suggestions from IL Fiorello for Holiday Extra Virgin Olive Oil and our Condiment pairings:

For a different type of appetizer, try a cheese like Pt Reyes Toma with our fabulous Lemon or Blackberry Mostarda and our Wine, Apple, and Pear Harvest Compote. Just delicious.

Turkey – use our robust Athena’s Blend at table to add a savory note.

Roasted and thyme-scented Butternut squash and Brussel sprouts with French Blend oil.

Mashed potatoes with a large well of luscious Leccino Oil.

Green Beans with pomegranate jewels drizzled with herbaceous Pendolino Oil.

Harvest Kurri squash and chocolate cake made with Mandarin oil.

Olio Nuovo, interesting pantry items, and Gift sets are now available for hostess and friend gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Ciao

Ann and Mark

FALL HARVEST & MILLING 2018

My favorite time of the year is the Fall Harvest and milling season.

The bounty of our Farm, the organic garden, and the Olive harvest is in full swing. This season closely links the Farm and the Kitchen in the Grove.

Olive Oil flight & tasting plate

Tasting plates at the Visitors Center reflect our garden’s produce and the uniqueness of our Extra Virgin Olive Oils.  Each month’s presentation of oils and tasting plates are different and unique, and reflects the imaginations of the Chefs, the Gardener, and the Millers.

Olio Nuovo straight from the Mill

The olive mill is working very well. Please stop by to view our new movie on milling olives. It will give you a finer appreciation of the power and elegance of the Italian equipment. When you stop by, and if we are milling olives, I would love to have you taste the new fresh oil as it is coming out of the centrifuge.  It is an amazing taste experience, never to be forgotten.

Olio Nuovo – Fresh New Olive Oil

Olio Nuovo, a beautiful new oil is now available to dress your harvest dishes.  It is the very best oil of the year.  New Fresh Oil.

Even with the sparse amount of olives this season, we have made some lovely oils. The early harvest of mostly green olives gives the oil a beautiful fragrance, solid bitterness, and lingering pungency.

1000 lbs of green & black olives

Beautiful Italian Blend Olives

This combination is the best pairing with Fall foods. Big flavorful oils, savory foods, cooler days.

We are grateful for our Fall Harvest.

PREPARATION FOR HARVEST AND MILLING

Olive harvest is getting closer, and we are very excited.

The mill is clean, the spare parts and replacement parts have arrived, and updates to the computer systems are completed. All the computer updates to our databases for documentation are ready to go. The centrifuge is balanced and ready to work. The technician from Pieralisi will be doing the final checklist with us in mid-September.

Our mill is one of the most modern and computerized in North America, but we still use some ancient but effective processes. The auger that moves the olives from the washer pit to the crusher is based on an ancient process used by the Babylonians and named after Archimedes – an Archimedes screw. This screw originally transferred water from a low-lying body of water into higher irrigation ditches. In our mill, it is used to transport olives after washing up and then into the crusher.

On to Olive Oil and Milling for 2018

Everyone is anticipating making great oil again this year. All our growers are calling in asking about volumes of olives and dates for milling. This year’s crop is uncharacteristically light; so, our milling schedule is wide open. Minimums are still 1000 lbs. to make the necessary volume for single producer oils. Many of our smaller growers will be coming in to community milling days. Call us if you have any questions. We are anticipating that we may be grouping small customers together for efficiency. We are setting aside the day before community milling for those who are not sure if they will meet the minimum 1000 lbs., or one very full macro bin. Crops that come up less than 1000 lbs. can then be included in community milling the following day. Everyone wants to make oil, and in a light fruit set year we want to help our family of growers. Last year, our community oil was certified as extra virgin AND won a Silver Medal at the California State Fair.

Oct 21 will be our Oktoberfest, great family fun and food and Community Milling. Lots of bratwurst and sausages. House-made sauerkraut and mustards. Beer cheese soup will warm everyone’s heart and soul. And Beer. Delicious. Beer. From Ruhstaller and Sonoma Springs. Maybe even a special beer from Scotland.

NEWS FLASH. This will also be the debut of our new film about milling at IL Fiorello. Produced by Epic Flight Films, the focus is on the milling of olives and the use of oil with food. There is no other film like it in the world. We are proud to work with Epic Flight and their talented crew.

DATES TO REMEMBER

October 21, 2018 Oktoberfest Celebration with Community Milling
November 25, 2018, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is our second Community Milling event with mill tours and complementary olive oil tastings.

Tomatoes

AUGUST 2018

This month we celebrate tomatoes in Solano County. The Tomato Festival was very successful. IL Fiorello held the Tomato Cooking contest, with categories that included Salsa, Soup, Salad, and Sauce. Fantastic recipes were submitted, and winners announced at the Festival Grandstand in Downtown Fairfield on Sunday. Congratulations to all who entered the competition. We already have exciting plans for next year’s competition, and it will be bigger and better. We served roasted tomatoes on polenta bites for the VIP event that was held that Saturday evening.

The bounty of the tomato harvest at IL Fiorello is just amazing. Nick, our Director of Green Things planted 23 kinds of tomatoes. Even the volunteer tomatoes are prolific this year.

Daily, we are harvesting bowls full for the Kitchen in the Grove.

We are drying, roasting, preserving, making tomato water, tomato jam, and strawberry and tomato jam.

Sundried and oven dried, we’ll have tomatoes for the entire year. And there is much more to come. We are going to try to dry the brilliant yellow tomatoes, and see what they taste like. Preserved in olive oil, I am sure they are fantastic.

When you dry tomatoes in a dehydrator, they have to have a cut side to let the moisture escape. You can dry or roast whole if that is your preference. On a setting of 140 F, it takes about 24 hours to finish. The final result can than be put in a food saver, and you have fantastic flavorful tomatoes for the entire year.

SUNDRIED TOMATO PESTO

INGREDIENTS
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, use Romas, Juliet, or San Marzano
3 cloves garlic, raw or roasted either is delicious
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup basil leaves, fresh
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup IL Fiorello Frantoio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

INSTRUCTIONS
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor, except the olive oil.
Start the food processor or blender, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil
Adjust salt and peppers to your taste
This pesto can be refrigerated for up to one week.

USES FOR THIS DELICIOUS PESTO
Crostini
Warm penne pasta
With grilled steak or chicken

2018 © IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company

You can also pack the sun dried tomatoes in olive oil. Let them soak for a day or so, and serve on crostini. With goat cheese, they are just delicious.
I may have some tonight for dinner.
Ciao
Ann

French Vanilla Lavender Sugar Cookies with Creamy Lemon Frosting

Célébrons avec les Français le bleu, blanc, et rouge!
(It’s the 14th of July!! Let’s celebrate with the French the blue, white, and red!)

Are these cookies really from a French recipe? Um, no.

But we’re willing to bet our French friends would love them!!

Ingredients:

Cookies:
1/2 cup Il Fiorello Citrus Blend Co-Milled Oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups vanilla infused sugar (see recipe below)
4 eggs (room temperature)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1½-inch vanilla pod and 1 full vanilla pod
2 teaspoons of culinary lavender buds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

Method

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease cookie sheets or line with silicone mats.
In a large bowl, cream together the Citrus Blend Olive Oil, butter and vanilla-infused sugar.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Heat the buttermilk on the stove just until it simmers; then stir in the ½-inch vanilla pod and let cool for 10 minutes.
Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the bean into the buttermilk and stir.
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
Drop rounded spoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheets.
Bake for 6-8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat butter and brown sugar with hand blender on high speed until creamy and fluffy.
Mix in the powdered sugar until smooth.
Add the flour and salt.
Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and combined.
Fold in the lemon zest.
Frost the cookies when they are completely cooled.

For vanilla-infused sugar:

Version #1 (Longer wait-time)
Pour 2 cups of white sugar in a bowl. Cut 1 full vanilla pod in half and scrape out the vanilla bean into the sugar and stir. Put in a mason jar and cover with lid; let it sit for a few days to a week.

Version #2 (Shorter wait-time…for when you must have the cookies NOW!)
Place 2 cups of sugar in large resealable plastic bag. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Seal the bag. Knead sugar until the vanilla is evenly distributed. Spread sugar on large rimmed baking sheet. Let stand 25 to 30 minutes or until sugar is dried. Store in airtight container. If sugar clumps up, break apart by rubbing between fingers.

We won Awards??

WE HAVE WON AWARDS!

WE HAVE WON GREAT AWARDS!

WE HAVE WON FABULOUS AWARDS!

 

Years of hard work, hours of milling, great equipment from Gruppo Pieralisi,

 and the result:

GOLD MEDALS, SILVER MEDALS, BRONZE MEDALS

BEST OF CLASS & BEST OF SHOW!Congratulations to our staff for their support, dedication, kindness, and forward thinking to bring us to this position.

Every year after the rush of milling season quiets down, we evaluate our olive oils internally, tasting and grading them for quality in flavor, aroma, and pungency. We pick those that best represent Il Fiorello’s quality standards, and submit samples of those oils
to local and international competitions.

Winning awards is exciting, and we’re thrilled,

but even better is knowing that our olive oils are among the best in the world.

Come visit, meet our staff, and tour our Farm.

Purchase our oils in our gift shop and online for all of our Medal winners.

 

2018 AWARDS

NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL OLIVE OIL COMPETITION

Gold Medals, Frantoio, Athena’s Blend, Leccino

Silver Medal French Blend

JAPAN INTERNATIONAL OLIVE OIL COMPETITION

Gold Medals, Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Athena’s Blend

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL OLIVE OIL COMPETITION

Gold Medal, Leccino,

Silver Medals, Frantoio, Pendolino, Co-Milled Lime, Diavolo

Bronze Medal, Athena’s Blend

YOLO COUNTY

Gold Medal, Best of Class, Co-Milled Lime

Silver Medal, Frantoio

Bronze Medal, Taggiasca, Athena’s Blend, Diavolo

CALIFORNIA STATE FAIR

Gold Medal, Best of Class, French

Gold Medal, Lime

Silver Medal, Green Valley, Community Blend, Athena’s Blend

NAPA COUNTY

Gold Medal, Best of Class, Best of Show Athena’s Blend

Gold Medal, Best of Class, Mandarin Co-Milled

Silver Medal, Green Valley Blend, Lemon Co-Milled

Spring 2018

Blossoms of oranges and lemons and the wisteria make the air so fragrant at the front door of our Visitors Center.   I cannot imagine a better way to greet guests.  Spring is special on a Farm. So many plants and animals are growing.

Wisteria Blossoms

We present a collage of all that is blooming and growing at our Farm. The harbinger of all that we can grow, produce, and enjoy with friends.

Olive Buds

 

 

Baby Grapes

 

 

 

Brugmansia,  Angels trumpet

Mint

 

 

Julia Child Rose

Valarian, Jupiters Beard

Marigold

Nasturtium

Orange Blossoms

Quail Eggs

Sage Blossoms

Thyme

Violas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next blog will be about our green house and all the starts that are growing in a protected place.

Ciao

Celebrate Spring, Primavera, Printemps

Ann

WE SAVED THE PIES…and laughed all the way home.

Athena at Sunset

When I began this olive oil business, I imagined, and planned, that food would be a huge part of my business.  After all, olive oil and good healthy food go together.  But little did I know 10 years ago, how important this aspect would become.

As we have developed the cooking school, the Kitchen in the Grove, at our Farm, many, many, amazing things have happened, and we have learned so much.  In addition, there are so many stories to tell.

We have learned new ways of ordering, new companies, economies of scale.  Learning how to compost with 350 tons of byproduct from the milling.  Food costs, food waste, and efficient ordering.  Oh my, oh my…so busy.

A beautiful Blood Orange from our Citrus Grove

We learned to use our fruit from the farm to its best purpose. Marmalade, preserved lemons, juice, Buddha’s hand conserve, rose petal jelly, and blood oranges.

I have learned to relocate snakes, and dispatch the scary ones.  On one occasion, the Sheriff’s department knew the rattlers were living under the front porch, and actually looked, face first, under the porch!  I was hanging on to his belt to pull him out in case the very present snake bit the Sheriff. Then we fed the Sheriffs, who responded with lights and sirens when animal control was busy, homemade polenta with ragu sauce.  The Sheriff is still alive and the snake is not, and my guests are safe.

We have learned a lot about sustainable seafood, and that cleaning fresh octopus is outrageous fun.

Henrietta the Escape Artist

Hawk in the Hen House

We are learning about caring for chickens and benefit with our farm fresh eggs. In addition, to how to manage the death of some of the said chickens, and then figuring how many more chickens we need. Getting too attached to Henrietta Hen, our escapee chicken.  The experience of battling a very large hawk in the chicken coop…I won and the hawk flew away.  However, I am sure she is only temporarily absent.

We have learned that a full tasting room and a full cooking class are a lot of work, but the rewards are triple fold.

Finding competent people, and then finding out that they have never had the opportunity to set a proper table. Google helped me find a proper formal table-setting plan.

Burns, cuts, and sore feet. Did I mention very sore feet? My phone says that during milling season, we walked well over 15,000 steps a day. We milled for 60 days, so why am I not skinny?

In Kitchen in the Grove, we teach proper knife techniques to participants who have had a little bit of wine. From now on when the knives are out the wine is away!

Finding out that I can cook with the best, and have a huge amount of fun.  And learn something every single day.  That is the experience of a lifetime.

Ever changing staff with new ideas every day.  Re-inventing the wheel in a new direction that makes our business grow.

BUT! The best story is falling over the open oven door and not landing on our Executive Chef who was standing on the other side…and saving the seafood pies I was carrying.  With the entire, very shocked, cooking class wondering if I would pop up from the floor, or remain hiding behind the Chef for the rest of the class.

The best was living to laugh about the whole thing. Bruised shin and embarrassed ego. But, most importantly, we saved the seafood pies!

Here is to more stories, and fun. Come, enjoy our laughter, and laugh with us.

Ciao

Ann

Watch Our Video

Custom Milling

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

read more...

Tastings

Taste extra virgin and co-milled flavored olive oils.

read more...

Il Fiorello Blog

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

read more...

Custom Milling

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

read more...

Tastings

Taste extra virgin and co-milled flavored olive oils.

read more...

Il Fiorello Blog

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

read more...