Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Jul 032011

Olive Crazy was day dreaming when Mr. Olive Crazy spotted Figone’s Olive Oil Company, and again the young olives groaned as Mom stopped in to Figone’s to continue her hunt for great extra virgin olive oils.

Figone’s building is a rustic, wood-planked, stand-alone store across the street from Kenwood Vineyards on Sonoma Highway just north of the city of Sonoma and Aqua Caliente (Hot Springs). The building looks like it comes off the set of an old western film.

When I went in to Figone’s there was one couple waiting to taste the olive oils and vinegars. I spoke briefly to a lady behind the counter and she asked the owner, Frank Figone, to come and speak with me. Just as that happened, the front door opened, and lots of prospective customers poured in. It was apparently not a good time for me to be on my appointmentless mission, to find and taste extra virgin olive oils that were grown and milled locally, with the identity of the grower and the olive variety easily obtainable.

Frank was very gracious and wonderfully helpful. He was obviously used to the such hubbub and took it in stride. I tried two of his extra virgin olive oils: the Mission-Manzanillo and the Tuscan Blend. The Mission-Manzanillo was rich, grassy, and peppery – fabulous. With the Tuscan Blend, Frank had me pour some in one of my palms, then vigorously rub both palms together. He then had me cup my hands and sniff the fragrance. It was lovely – so fruity and alive. I then tasted the oil (by now I am getting used to all the mouth noises involved in extra virgin olive oil tasting) and wow! The Tuscan Blend was indeed fruity, with a delicious bitterness as it went down my throat. (Note: I put the links to purchasing the Figone’s products I bought because I really liked them, not because I am making any money off them).

So, what did I do next? Whipped out the plastic and bought a bottle of each, but before I left, Frank gave me a taste of his Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, oh my was it good. I had to have a bottle of that too. After the purchases were completed, Frank brought me over two other treats to try, a garlic and herb flavored extra virgin olive oil, and a pear and cinnamon flavored balsamic vinegar. Both were magnificent and I will definitely go back to Figone’s for more treats before I return to the east coast.

You might find this strange but as I’ve mentioned before I have never tried a flavored olive oil. The reason is simple, I will not try a flavored olive oil until I taste the oil the flavored oil comes from. It wasn’t until Figone’s that I was able to taste the base oil and the flavored oil one-after-the-other. I have always been suspicious that flavored olive oils are masking some defect. I do not know this to be true, but it is one of my concerns.

Do take a look at the Figone’s website and read their story. It is interesting.

Next stop was Muir Woods Sequoia Forest and hiking. This time it wasn’t the young olives who groaned, it was Mr. Olive Crazy.

May the sun shine through your branches.


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