It’s not unusual for me to open a can of California Ripe Olives with the intent of using them in a recipe and then a few minutes later half the can of olives is missing. My family and I just cannot keep our hands out of the olive can.
Olives have always been a staple in my house. I often reach for a can of California Ripe Olives when I want a quick snack or when I want to add a little extra flavor to a recipe. Olives make my meals seem a bit more special, while adding color and texture to my recipes.
As if being an olive fanatic isn’t enough, a few weeks ago I was asked to attend the California Ripe Olive Experience in St. Helena, California – I jumped at the opportunity. An event completely devoted to olives? I had to be there and sample all the olive goodness.
The California Ripe Olive Experience was held at the Greystone campus of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in St. Helena, California. Now, I’m a total culinary school junkie and I’d be a forever culinary student if it were possible. So, a visit to the Greystone CIA to mingle with olive growers, and canners, cook with olives, eat olives and olive inspired recipes seemed like a little slice of olive and culinary heaven to me.
Meeting the growers, canners and the many professionals involved with California Ripe Olives was an absolute pleasure. “The California Ripe Olive community is composed of two canneries and about 700 family farmers, who raise olives on about 27,000 acres of orchards that crisscross the warm inland valleys of California.”
I knew California grew a large percentage of the olive crops in the United States but I had no idea that California produces 95% of all the olives grown here in the U.S.
Many of the California Ripe Olive family farms are multi-generational groves and they’re powered by hardworking farmers and their families. Some of the olive groves are over 100 years old and today, most of the olives are still harvested by hand. In recent years, development of mechanical harvesting has emerged but many of the older groves have trees that are dense in size so harvesting remains by hand.
In addition to meeting the lovely members of the Culinary Olive Committee I had the pleasure of meeting CIA Chef Paul Irving, Elise Bauer, founder of Simply Recipes and many more wonderful culinary and blogging professionals.
One of the evening meals was developed by Elise Bauer, founder of Simply Recipes. A gorgeous Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Figs & Olives. In a word, divine. I’ve included the link to the recipe HERE. You will absolutely want to make this lovely dish.
We also experimented a bit with olives and taste tested Chef Paul Irving’s olive creations. From smoked olives to candied olives and everything in between, we sampled the many ways an olive can be used in a recipe. Chef Paul Irving also created a gorgeous and mouth-watering lunch at the end of the event. He used smoked olives in a Pasta Puttanesca that was outstanding. The smoked olives added an additional element of flavor that complimented the spicy sauce.
During the event, I also had the opportunity to get into the CIA kitchen and create a mouth-watering recipe with three lovely new food-blogging friends, Leigh-Anne from Your Home Based Mom, Kelly from The Suburban Soapbox and Heather from Heather Likes Food.
Although every recipe was completely delicious, I thought my team rocked. We created a Roasted Olive and Kumquat Relish and paired it with a pan cooked Pork Tenderloin with a pan sauce and then layered the pork and the relish over goat cheese polenta. Topped off with toasted pine nuts and served with asparagus.
The roasted olive and kumquat relish is so delicious I’ve paired it with not only pork tenderloin but with spring halibut over a herbed couscous. I’ll post these additional olive recipes soon.
After the event, I promptly came home and added olives to everything I cooked. One of my favorite recipes, that honestly, I didn’t think would be my favorite, is an Olive and Rosemary Chicken Salad.
The chicken is poached in chicken broth with fresh rosemary, then diced and combined with additional fresh chopped rosemary, sliced green olives, red onion, green onions, mayonnaise, shredded cheddar cheese and a splash of lemon. My family cannot seem to get enough of this chicken salad and I find myself making a batch weekly.
Thank you California Ripe Olives for an amazing experience and for sharing with me your love and passion for California Ripe Olives. For more recipes and all things olives check out California Ripe Olives on Facebook.
Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,
*This post has been sponsored by California Olive Committee