Just this January we chose to offer our California barrel oil pressed from the arbosana olive rather than the usual mission olive.
We remain smitten with the work done by our longtime friends at the Corning California Olive Oil Company’s groves. Their pioneering devotion to the arbosana olive has become widely copied by their slavish competitors, to the degree that today fully 16% of all California olive oil production has been given over to the arbosana — clear evidence that the tiny arbequina-look-alike offers more pleasure and more near-miraculously healthful polyphenols than those ubiquitous manzanillas and missions.
The arbosana is harvested three weeks later than the arbequina, its Catalan-origin cousin. I find that it offers without doubt more robustness than the arbequina’s delicate oil, as well as offering a black peppery finish that is patently non-existent in Catalan arbequina oils. It also has an alluring pungency associated with frantoio, picual, biancolilla and koroneiki olives, among a few others.
Now, while I adore the suave and sophisticated smoothness of the Catalan arbequina oil, I also am in the thrall of being slapped if not bludgeoned by my olive oil. That’s where the pungency comes into play, but not before you, the taster, will likely sense as do I the presence in this fine, fine, rich, creamy and fruity arbosana oil hints, if not outright proclamations, of green tomato, toasted almond, green banana, fresh-mown grass, cooked artichoke, fennel and mint. As with all my olive oils, the applications are yours to make.
I use my California arbosana as a ready-made sauce, a table condiment. I use it for marinades and bastes. I use the damn stuff whenever the hell I want to be thrilled, and after all this subjective caterwauling, isn’t that the only issue?