October 09, 2003
The 12th annual Carmel Valley Tomatofest's International Olive Oil Pavilion was a big success. Olive oil educators Michael and Valarie Coon, who lead gastronomic tours around the world and are also food sales and marketing consultants based in Napa, assisted Strictly Olive Oil's Betty Pustarfi. The help was sorely needed, as over 2000 attended the event. There were four sides to the pavilion, and the three did a lot of pirouetting directing attendees to different "countries" and different oil characteristics.
Valarie and Michael Coon at the International Olive Oil Pavilion - Carmel Valley Tomatofest
pictures courtesy Betty Pustarfi
"We were impressed with both the sophistication and high level of interest expressed by tasters of the international oils", related Michael. "Participants were genuinely interested in taking a tour around the world to discover the nuances of each countries' oil and how their unique characteristics could best be used to create savory dishes at home." "Tuscany was a favorite with its peppery bite, but the spicy Sicilian oil was a close second. France won over the smooth, sophisticated palates and those preferring a more robust, "mouthful" style chose the seldom tasted oil from New Zealand. Rounding out the top three, the olive taste of the Moroccan oil seemed to garner the most votes."
On her side of the pavilion, Betty Pustarfi reported that the winner in the satiny, lingering, delicate category was the Ligurian entry. The complex veggie category was dominated by Umbria. And the "rich and buttery" throne was claimed by Spain. She found that Morgenster's from South Africa challenged the peppery arena, probably because the cultivars were imported from Tuscany. Sardinia's entry was "best overall" according to visitors. All the entries were highly regarded. More specific product information can be obtained by emailing Betty Pustarfi.