February 01, 2003
San Francisco - How do you sip olive oil at dozens of booths at the NASFT fancy food show and still have room for chocolate, biscotti, gummy bears and salami? With difficulty, especially if you came from a breakfast meeting like this reporter. While not good for the digestion, the food show is a great place to look for new flavor trends and packaging ideas.
This year tea was evident in every permutation: hot, cold, soda, frozen, whizzed and dehydrated. Golden Whisk had a midnight Jasmine and Earl Grey tea infused vinegar in their expanding catalog. Tea oil was actually for sale at Republic of Tea but it wasn't a flavored oil but oil pressed from the tea berry seeds.
Vanilla and ginger also seemed to be "in" flavors; a special area was set aside for tasting ginger containing products. Ginger olive oil was not being offered but does already exist from one producer for private labeling.
There was a continuing of previously noted trends. When asked "what's new?" most olive oil companies pointed out a flavored vinegar or sauce, not an oil. There is pressure to expand the product line and plenty of companies sell many times more bottles of vinegar or flavored dipping oil than their unflavored oil.
Fewer oil companies bought booths this year, probably because the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) had bought a booth to be rented by COOC seal winning olive oil producers. Nancy Ash, Patty Darragh and Sue Ellery were instrumental in getting the COOC ready for the show. Seal Winners on display at the COOC booth: Apollo, Balzana Calolea, DaVero, Frantoio-Zedez Ranch, Harris Ranch, Lodestar, McEvoy Ranch, Oils Of Paicines, Pietra Santa, Remezzano, Round Pond, St. Pierre, Stella Cadente, Storm Ranch, Willowcreek
As in past years, many companies were displaying citrus flavored oils new to their line. Remezzano Olive Oil had grapefruit and lemon oils pressed at the Olive Press available for tasting. The award for outstanding new oil, vinegar or salad dressing in 2002 went to Gourmet Pacifica's avocado oil with blood orange.
Sharon Cohn of B.R. Cohn
Bella Cucina's oliva ceramic olive jar with wooden handle was awarded the 2002 outstanding non-food specialty item. Bella Cucina also had a lemon and a tangerine oil as well as tasty antipasto olives in oil.
O Olive Oil was giving samples of their Tunisian lemon and orange oils along with their line of California oils. Bonnie Storm displayed her Storm Olive Ranch oil available through distributor Alfred Katz. Katz is also the sole distributor of another oil available for tasting at the COOC booth, DaVero, as well as the current president of the COOC.
Cobram Estate, one of probably many more Australians to come, offered tastes of their Coreggiolo, Nevadilla blanco and Frantoio blend. A nice oil packaged in 1 liter bottles for a very reasonable price give a hint of future competition to the California industry. Land is cheap in Australia and the Australians seem very serious about quality and making money at the same time.
Cobram Estate of Australia invades
Olivas de Oro's unfiltered Ascolano, Sevillano, Mission and Manzanillo blend was smooth on the palate. Unfortunately, they were unable to pick their Baruni trees for lack of an oil buyer, as Barouni makes a very unusual and unique oil.
Frank and Marti Menacho of Olivas de Oro
Owner Sharon Cohn was busy taking orders of her B.R. Cohn line of oils in the Olive Hill Olive Company booth.
Kudos to the COOC staff and all the other California producers who put in enormous time and energy at the show educating retailers and the public about California olive oil.