This is from the folks at California Olive Ranch after a little dinner that I did for them last night!
I got into Sacramento early this afternoon to attend our annual Harvest Retreat. It’s a big event. We take a large group of chefs and wholesalers on a tour to see firsthand how we harvest and crush the olives into olive oil at one of our northern California mills.
The weather in Sacramento is pleasantly mild. After I arrived, one of the first things I did was park myself at a table at the Grange Restaurant & Bar, a great farm-to-table restaurant at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento. I met a few colleagues and went over the events of the next two days, which I’ll be writing about in coming blogs.
I also got a chance to say hi to Grange chef Michael Tuohy, who was busy preparing a special menu for our group of about 100. The menu features our California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oils in every course — from the olive oil marinated goat cheese to the Alaskan halibut crudo and orange-almond olive oil cake. The cake is topped with a crème anglaise made from our Miller’s Blend EVOO.
Chef Tuohy was clearly pumped about tonight’s olive oil meal. “It’s one of my favorite ingredients to work with,” he said.
When we caught up with him there, Chef Tuohy was chopping a beautiful pile of fresh lavender for our meal. He next mixed it in a big mixing bowl with our Arbequina EVOO and some fig balsamic vinegar. Chef Tuohy then proceeded to slather the mixture on several beautiful, locally sourced racks of lamb.
“It’s going to permeate, especially during the cooking and after it’s cooked,” he said of the lavender, olive oil, vinegar combination.
Chef Tuohy also showed us the crème anglaise he’d prepared for the olive oil cake. There’s funny story behind the crème anglaise. It started off as an olive oil ice cream made from our Miller’s Blend. But that was before the guest list for the dinner mushroomed to some 100 people from 40.
Chef Tuohy realized he didn’t have an ice cream maker big enough for that many people. So he did some quick improvisation. He’d make the olive oil ice cream recipe, but not freeze the mixture. And the result: a delicious olive oil crème anglaise.
“It works as a sauce,” he explained. “Sometimes you just have to adjust.”
It’s now hours later. I’ve had a chance to enjoy Chef Tuohy’s dinner. It was exquisite. I now plan to catch a little shut-eye before Tuesday’s events.
Claude S. Weiller
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