We visited Nick Sciabica & Sons Olive Oil Company which is located about 40 minutes from our house. I have to admit, I had no idea there was an olive oil producing plant so near to us. They've been there since 1936. I just buy the big jugs of olive oil at Costco without a second thought. Now, however, I have added a new favorite place to shop to my list.
I won't go into details on the history of the business; that can be found on their website.
We arrived a few minutes early and planned to spend the time browsing in the gift shop. We were greeted by one of the owners, Daniel Sciabica. What a friendly man! He chatted with us and had some questions about homeschooling, which we happily answered.
Here are my kiddos standing in front of one of the displays, looking like they're homeschooled. :)
When the rest of our group arrived, we were led into the tasting room. On the tables was a baggie that held pieces of bread for dipping, a napkin, a small bottle of water and a place mat with six samples of their oils.
Jonathan, who is a nephew and a third generation Sciabica, gave a wonderfully insightful presentation on the history of their company and olive oil. He explained the different types of oils, health benefits, how olives came to be in California (no, they are not native-they were brought by Spanish missionaries), and answered questions ranging from "how many olive varieties are there?" to "what's the best way to bake with olive oil?" You could tell this gentleman had a passion for his family business.
He shared with us the fact that his 94 year old grandfather who started the business still comes to work every day. He told us his uncle passed away last year at the age of 100. They contribute their lengthy lives to olive oil. I'm now a convert.
Back to the tastings. The top three oils in the picture are ones that are harvested at different times. They range from the #1 very light and buttery tasting (best for baking) to the #3 that has a stronger, more biting flavor. The longer the olive is on the tree, the more mild the flavor.
The bottom three oils are flavored oils-lemon, basil & garlic. All I can say is YUM! I did not know olive oil could taste so delicious. They cold-press the lemon or basil or garlic directly with the olives resulting in a phenomenal taste. Jonathan explained that this is done instead of heat infusing to avoid contaminating the oil.
Here's the kids trying some. In the background Lulu is drinking it directly from the cup.
They have several flavored oils. The kids favorite was the jalapeno.
They also stock a wonderful balsamic vinegar that is bottled in Italy just for their label.
I came home with a cookbook that I can't wait to try out, a bottle of their Marsala blend, which is used for everyday cooking, a bottle of the Mission Variety Spring Harvest, which is used for baking, a sampler pack of eight of their flavored oils (Laina cooked eggs in the jalapeno one this morning), a can of pasta sauce that is made locally using their oil and some olive oil that is pressed with edible lavender and specially bottled for skin care use. I will definitely be using their olive oils and vinegars exclusively in the future.
This was a great field trip and was enjoyed by all ages in our group. And since it included food, you just can't top that!