Over the past weekend, I took a day trip out to Paso Robles with my parents. We enjoyed a great day full of wine tasting, walnut groves turning yellow for fall, and olive oil tasting. November is one of the best months to visit this quaint Central Coast town, as this is when the grapes in the vineyards are harvested and pressed for wine, and the olives in the olive groves are harvested and pressed for oil.
We visited the Kiler Ridge Olive Farm in Paso Robles, which is fully surrounded by their olive trees and is located atop a scenic vista. The trees were fully loaded with olives, and the harvest had just begun! The oil press was fully up and running while we were there, and we even got to taste the first pressed olive oil for that year (more on that to come!).
Kiler Ridge is owned by a husband and wife team, who divide the farming (wife) and pressing (husband) work between them and a small team. They have a great tasting room that overlooks the trees and vistas. With my delightful seat in the warm fall sun, I could have been fooled into thinking I was in Tuscany.
The tasting included three of their standard olive oils, plus their special Olio Nuovo (first press for the year). They even include a sample of Bertolli olive oil as a comparison to theirs, which you know the food scientist in me got a big kick out of (I love a good control). They taught us the proper way to taste olive oil, which I thought was very clever.
First, you start by warming the cup by cupping your hands around it for around 30 seconds. Next, smell the warmed olive oil to get the aroma and flavor notes. To taste, tilt your chin down, then sip the sample and keep it in the front of your mouth at the tip of your tongue. Then, slowly move the oil through your mouth by chewing slightly, then swallow. After swallowing, the tannins in the olive oil (if there are any) will leave a bitter or peppery note at the back of your throat. Good olive oil is full of tannins, and is therefore healthier for you – tannins are the antioxidant component of olive oil!. Therefore, olive oil that has a lot of tannins will seem sharper, more bitter, and more peppery, while other oils (mostly store-bought oils) will leave a buttery or greasy finish.
I really appreciated the thought and effort involved in the tasting process, and I was absolutely obsessed with the Olio Nuovo. I’ve never tried fresh-pressed olive oil, and it’s absolutely the most flavorful (and tannin-ful) oil I’ve ever tried. The oil is also a delightful shade of green that’s almost neon, which looks so fun in my breakfast of whole milk Greek yogurt, Olio Nuovo, and Maldon salt. It’s a great way to start the day.
At the end of the tasting, they gave us a sample of one of their oils poured over pumpkin ice cream, with a topping of flaky sea salt. Let me tell you, this was pure luxury. Everyone should experience good olive oil poured over ice cream at least once in their lives. Total game changer.
With that, I have nothing else to say but to plan a trip out there! I had an amazing time learning the proper way to taste olive oil, and I got to take so many pictures of their beautiful trees totally loaded with ripe olives. The ice cream with olive oil plus my new bottle of Olio Nuovo didn’t hurt the experience either.
Kiler Ridge Olive Farm: