Review – WeOlive Olive Oil Club

Certified California Extra Virgin Olive Oils from WeOlive.comWhen I first heard about a chain of stores that focuses on selling artisan olive oils (along with a few balsamic vinegars and other olive-related products like soaps) I was reminded of those stunts on David Letterman, in the very early years, where Dave would venture into a store that sold only one type of item – stores with names like “Just Stools” or “Only Pillows”. I always got a huge chuckle out of those comedy segments and back then thought it was close to ridiculous to carry just a single type of item. Times have changed.

We Olive is a chain of retail outlets that began in 2003 and has grown to eight stores in California. The company seeks to overcome the idea that premiere olive oils are imported from Spain and Italy and sells only oils made by California producers. The oils are certified Extra Virgin Olive Oils by the California Olive oil Council. I had no idea that there are more than 200 companies making olive oil in the Golden State. Now I’m glad I know.

Going into a retail outlet (the newest opened in San Francisco’s Marina District in November 2009) allows of tasting of hundreds of California-made olive oils with tastes that range from mellow and buttery to robust, which can be peppery or grassy. Like the grapes used in winemaking, there are many different varieties of olives and each produces a very distinct blend of oil.

Visiting a We Olive location (http://www.weolive.com/store_locator.html) is an educational experience. It’s about tasting and finding oils that you like. Sometimes you don’t even know what might appeal to you until you try a wide variety of different things. You also quickly find out what you don’t like, which is just as valuable.

We Olive opens you up to that opportunity to try different oils, support local growers and producers and even take some specialty cooking classes. Sign up for their newsletter to get information for events in your area.

Prior to receiving a complimentary sample pack from the company, I thought I just needed three olive oils at the most – one for everyday cooking and salads, etc., a high-grade one to use as finishing oil or for dipping bread; and a flavored oil – like lemon olive oil or garlic olive oil. But gradually I started finding even more ways to incorporate olive oil into my cooking. Because there is an online store, I can also reorder what I like. I will be ordering more of the Mission oil that was sent to me. It was smooth with light fruity taste. I used it for everything from marinating fish to drizzling on bread and even popcorn. Yummy.

And, often when people become enthusiasts or connoisseurs of an item – like coffee, chocolate beer, wine, or cigars – they join a club that delivers new supplies of their passion each month. The We Olive Oil Club delivers bottles a variety of oils to members on a quarterly basis.

My first thought was I just don’t use enough olive oil to warrant receiving a new shipment every three months. But that’s just me. Some folks love the surprise of what will arrive. I’m more of a routine gal and like what I like and will keep using a single brand or product with ferocious loyalty.

As a club member receive 10 percent off all online purchases, as well as those purchases made in participating stores. You can get 20 percent off all items included in your quarterly shipments. There are also coupons and special offers for club members only.

Still, at this stage of my introduction to quality olive oils, it was seemed a bit pricey to join the club. But perhaps, after I learn more by visiting the store in San Francisco, I will appreciate it more.

Funky Food Friday: Olive Oil Bon Bons ???

Olive Oil Bon Bons ??? WTF?

Olive Oil Bon Bons - Gorgeous.. but weird!

I saw this one contributed via TwitPic courtesy of @TheGourmetGirl – Have a happy Funky Food Weekend!

Review – Aria Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Aria Extra Virgin Olive Oil from CreteIt’s always fun getting something in the mail and it’s even more fun when that something is a “foodie goodie” to review.   Here at UltimateFoodie – we had pretty mixed experiences with our promo package from Aralia Olive Oils as Karen and Joel’s arrived delayed – soggy – opened by someone and apparently missing a (broken or leaky) bottle.   Mine arrived intact along with some nice promotional materials on the product and the company.

I received a tall, gorgeous bottle of their “Aria” brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil and was happy to dive into using it immediately as I was actually fresh out of EVOO.   The Aria EVOO turned out to be a wonderful addition to my kitchen – serving admirably paired with Balsamic Vinegar for dipping with crusty Italian bread as well as in use in pasta dishes and on home made grilled pizzas.   It had a really pleasant unprocessed and pure fruity character that I really enjoyed.  The texture is also rich and silky.

The story behind Aralia oils is a great one as well.  Emmanuel Daskalakis, an architect from Boston was visiting his ancestral homeland in Crete when he fell in love with the groves of olives that his family had been tending for generations – some of the trees literally 1000 years old.   He loved the product that resulted from their loving approach and small  batch pressing and was disappointed to learn that most of the oil was being sold for blending with cheaper varieties for exporting.   Daskalakis saw the potential of a boutique brand that focused on producing and selling directly the best of the best … and Aralia Olive Oils and their Aria and Alia Brands.

The Aria Oil was really good  – but I was surprised to see that they have an even higher end Alia brand that is made from the first press of the season and must be pre-ordered between October 1st and December 10th for deliver the next year.

Aralia has won rave reviews for the quality and taste of their Olive Oils and as such is definitely not a bargain brand.   Pricing runs from $19.95 for a half litre bottle of Aria to $29.95 for a half litre of Alia.  Totally worth it though.   Aralia Olive Oils are available in your local Gourmet shop or online