I thought I knew McEvoy olives.
After all, I've been blending them into tapenade, snacking on them with wine and plopping them into my martinis for several years now. Last week, however, Mark sent down a special cured mix of French, Greek and Spanish varietals, and I quickly realized how limited my poor little olive palate really is.
I've always known we grow all kinds of olive trees at the ranch that we don't use for oil production, but it wasn't until I was grilled with identity, flavor and origin questions at an event last week that I realized I needed to do some research.
And so, here's some brief descriptions on the seven olives in Mark's blend that he cured for 8-12 months and prepared with orange, fennel seed and crushed red pepper:
ARBEQUINA- Spanish varietal, predominantly grown in the Catalonia region; fruit is small in size and oval, generally harvested green or slightly brown, producing an intense nutty, buttery flavored olive with a soft texture.
CAYON - Primarily grown in the Var region of Southern France, this cultivar is used for oil and curing and usually harvested black. It is self-sterile but pollinates other varieties well.
KORONEIKI -Primary variety grown in Greece; fruit is small, but trees are profilic bearers.
OGLIAROLA - Ancient southern Italian cultivar, widely used for oil by both Greeks and Romans; favored in oil production for its high yield and rusticity.
PICHOLINE - French variety highly prized for both oil production and curing; ripening is late with medium yield and trees are slow to grow.
MISSION -Mission olive trees are unique to the United States, but believed to be Spanish in origin; fruit is generally harvested late for oil, or cured either green or black, producing a mild flavored table olive.
NOCELLARA DEL BELICE - A Sicilian table olive that has high and consistent yield. The ripening is late but olives are generally harvested when still green and sometimes lye cured in the popular, bright green "Castevletrano" style.
If you'd like a taste, please join us tomorrow in the Ferry Building shop for Tasty Tuesday. We'll be serving this addictive mix from noon until 2pm.
For a full listing of all the olive varietals we sell at McEvoy Ranch, please click the link on the Nursery and Sales page of our website.