Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tasting Olive Oil with the Head Cowgirl

Five little sampling cups of oil with numbers, apples, water and a jellybean were waiting on our place mats at the Longhouse Revival as we entered the busy barn kitchen/theater with the giant round table on Sunday morning. I plunked down my backpack and was joined by Rose,  herself with long hair, diminutive form, and eyelashes that wouldn't quit. When our tasting guide, Mr. Singletary, told us we'd be doing things with olive oil that we had probably never done before I raised my eyebrows silently at Rose and pretended to snort the oil.  The eyelashes sort of fluttered a bit and then we were both distracted by our chatty companion who joined the table.  Companion brought up the cookbook conversation that she and Rose had apparently begun earlier in the weekend.

When I discovered that the cookbooks have to do with Rose wanting to have a large and famous cookbook library my librarian instincts caused my attention to snap to her. I had lots of questions.

But there was an olive oil tasting going on so we all turned our unruly attention to Mr. Singletary.

Bob Singletary took over the floor, and proceeded to walk to us through the history of olive oil and a description of the operations of the California Olive Ranch. Harvesting with a grape harvester to collect the fruit at its peak, they organize their operations so that they can get the olives harvested for the most fresh, mostly fresh, and everyday oil that's merely ok.

Then it was time to take the capped sample cups into our hands and begin the four S's of tasting.

First up was


to warm the oil and get the molecules to waft around.

Next was taking off the little cap to give the oil a


to get the smell sense attuned to what was wafting.

Next up was


necessitating a specific ridiculous embouchure and quick breath intake that lets the oil slide across the tastebuds on the sides of the tongue and bounce around in the back of the throat so that it can be lifted up into one's nose.

What with the peppery qualities of fine olive oils and everything some oils are categorized by the number of coughs one experiences in the slurp.  Some Spanish oils are so-called 4 cough oils, for example.

After this assault on the senses one then at last exercises the final S of olive oil tasting, the


Analogous to another deeply sensual experience?   Go get your olive oil and decide for yourself.

Apple and water were for cleansing the palate and a bit of tasty recovery between oils. We had to wait until the end to find out, but the jellybean served quite an important purpose.  Bob instructed us to really get a good pinch on our noses so that nothing could go through it, then pop the jellybean into our mouths and chew while holding them. After a few chomps he said to let go of our noses.  WOW. It was an instant and powerful demonstration regarding how much of our experience of taste involves our sense of smell.

Bob Singletary is Head Miller for California Olive Ranch and he does a very lovely presentation that's both educational and amusing.

Their post on the 4 S's

Their facebook page:

After all that tasting I wanted to let Rose know that I organize collections in exchange for food and lodging.  That snapped Rosebud's Tripple R Ranch attention to me. She gave me her card, which read:

Rose Rajokvic    Head Cowgirl    Rosebud's Tripple R Ranch

When I told her I didn't have any cards along with me at the moment she said: "get in touch with me" and included one of those looks which meant that she is serious.  I'm serious too.  Getting a cookbook library together for the Head Cowgirl of the Triple R Ranch sounds like something right up my alley. Santa Fe, here I come!

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