The Restaurant at Meadowood

by admin on November 5, 2014

REPOST FROM 2013.

A returned phone call, availability for an immediate meeting and true interest in the happenings at St. Helena Olive Oil Co.  are not things that I would expect from one of the youngest three Michelin star chefs in the Country.   Christopher Kostow, chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood, is a breath of fresh air.

On Friday…yes as in four days ago…I decided that one of our posts should be on The Restaurant.  I am going to feature a different venue in the Napa Valley with every newsletter and thought whom better to start with then a customer who inspires us to be the very best.  I knew the chances were slim that I could get pictures or a meeting at this late date but I never have time to contemplate odds.  I reached out to Ben Nerenhausen, sous chef, as he had been our  contact.  He said he would forward it to Christopher and they would see what they could do.  In the same note, he asked for more olive oil….hmm…perhaps a delivery I would make myself..with iphone camera in hand.

The following morning Kaelin and I headed out to make the delivery and perhaps have lunch at The Grill.  Christopher had left me a message that morning so I returned his call as we drove past the Meadowood gates.  I had no expectation of meeting him that day but after the conversation turned to olive oil and his passion was apparent, I let him know we were right outside his front door…with olive oil.  He did not defer to his receiving person but rather came up and let us in himself.  He went on to give us a tour of the remodeled restaurant and kitchen…his pride in every detail was on his sleeve.

After our tour, we sat down to discuss how we could work together this harvest.  I brought him up to speed on our estates, varietals, etc… and we discussed the characteristics he was looking for in an extra virgin olive oil.  It was apparent that a tasting would be in order so we could match descriptors and I could really understand what flavor profiles he was looking for.  The conversation was so inspiring as it gave me more to shoot for this year…I know it’s going to be a big harvest so I’ll have fruit to work with…and to create something that will please his pallet is a challenge that I am looking forward to.

I knew at this point that I could take a little risk and talk to him about the products that we make for our Napa Valley Bath Co.  We talked about our organic Napa Valley lavender essential oil, hydrosols, and the calendula oil that I just made…after all, calendula flowers are edible and used in salads.  He was curious…and was interested in samples to get a better understanding of the flavor profiles.  His open mindedness and sense of wonderment was refreshing…and inspiring.

As we prepared to say good-bye, Christopher invited us to The Restaurant for dinner…so we could understand what they do.  It was the mix of emotion from his overwhelming hospitality, sense of connection, and generosity that left me speechless…but only for a second.  I graciously accepted his invitation….Tuesday the 17th at 7:30pm….dinner for three at The Restaurant at Meadowood.

With next steps in place, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the car.  As we walked out the door,  Kaelin giggled and said, “Wow, mom, I love this part of your job! “.

Stay tuned for next weeks newsletter where we reveal how Christopher and his staff fed a vegan, a vegetarian and a carnivore.

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Holiday Goose

by admin on November 15, 2013

Although the notion of shopping with the seasons is hardly new, and many of us adhere to the practice with a near religious vigor, most people apply the philosophy to, say, spring (onions, garlic, fava beans, and peas); summer (tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers), fall (figs, pears, apples) or winter (squash and bitter greens). But wild fish (Dungeness crab, sand dab, halibut, soft shell crab) are also seasonal, and, while the thought may strike many as weird, so are meat & poultry.

I believe this thinking will soon become the norm, especially for those of us who do most of our food shopping at farmers’ markets. After all, the theory is hardly new. Europeans have traditionally eaten lamb in spring, beef in summer & fall, and pork in fall and winter. Many small poultry farms have a chicken season that runs from April to November, and move on to fattier birds such as duck, turkey, and geese during cold weather months.

Goose, of course, is a traditional treat in many parts of the world, but not so much here in the States where turkey seems to be the perennial holiday bird of choice. To my way of thinking, turkey is fine and dandy  but once you’ve roasted a goose for Christmas there’s no turning back.

Slow-Roasted Goose with Root Vegetables on a Bed of Farro
The idea for slow-roasting the goose was inspired by the Union Square Café’s Second Helpings cookbook. I’ve settled on a simplified version of the recipe, have added a twist using SHOlive Oil Company’s new Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar, and also carve the bird and serve it over a bed of mint and tarragon flecked farro, the traditional Italian grain from the Abruzzo region. The result is fantastic. The dark, slightly gamey meat, crisp golden bits of skin, toothsome farro, a rich, but not too rich sauce, and the underlying brightness provided by the herbs.

8 – 10 pound Goose (preferably fresh, not frozen)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, pealed and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped
8 sage leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup hard apple cider
1 tablespoon CRANBERRY BALSAMIC VINEGAR

4 tablespoons 2013 OLIO NUOVO
2 tablespoons ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT

2 cups farro
1 sprig mint leaves, chopped
1 sprig tarragon leaves, chopped

24 – 48 hours before cooking, cut off the wingtips and set aside with the giblets. Pre-salt the goose inside and out with ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT and refrigerate, loosely wrapped in plastic.

Remove goose from fridge an hour before roasting and bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

Stuff the goose with a mixture of the root vegetables, apple, sage, and bay leaf. In a large roasting pan, place the bird breast-side down on roasting a rack and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. Roast for 4 hours at 250°.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, remove the foil, and pour off and save the rendered fat for another use (such as roasting potatoes). Raise the heat to 350°, and continue cooking for another hour.

Remove the pan from the oven, pour off and save any remaining fat, flip the goose to breast-side up, scatter the wingtips and giblets around the roasting pan, and cook for one more hour at 350°.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the farro.

When it’s done, remove the goose from the pan and set aside to rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove the vegetable, apple, and herb mix from the cavity, add it to the giblets and wingtips along with the chicken stock, hard cider, and Cranberry BALSAMIC VINEGAR, and cook over medium heat, slowly reducing the liquids into a sauce.

Carve the goose meat completely off the bone (it will be so tender that it will essentially fall off). Slice or tear the meat into fork-sized shreds.

Layer the farro onto a serving platter, and liberally scatter the chopped mint and tarragon leaves over the top. Arrange the goose flesh and pieces of crispy skin over the farro, ladle over the sauce, and serve.

— serves 8 to 10

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2013 Olio Nuovo for the Thanksgiving Table!

by admin on November 1, 2013

With Thanksgiving practically here, and Christmas on the horizon, the season for turkey is about to rev into high gear. And we strongly recommend sourcing a fresh heritage breed over the typical supermarket variety.

The difference is not insignificant.

An example would be the birds from BN Ranch, a venture from Bill Nyman (formerly of Nyman Ranch) and his wife Nicolette. Bill and Nicolette personally drove to Kentucky to pick up their poults, which were bred naturally, not via artificial insemination. The next generation is birthed the old-fashioned way, from the eggs produced by the initial flock. The birds are raised at Nymans’ Bolinas, CA ranch, and are housed in spacious pens with indoor and outdoor access that provides ample room for exercise. Moreover, these birds are humanely raised on an all-vegetarian diet, with no beak cutting or wing clipping—they even fly.

The flavor difference is staggering. Turkeys like these are not only far tastier than the mass-produced variety—delivering authentic turkey flavor—but they are also more interesting of texture. The skin crisps properly, the breast meat is meaty and moist, and the drumsticks, ah, the drumsticks…a favorite part—especially from heritage birds that get to exercise those leg muscles—are rich, dark, slightly gamey, and very satisfying.

To Brine or Not to Brine
I think the case for heritage turkey speaks for itself. Things get somewhat trickier, however, when it comes to the question of whether or not to brine the bird. A good many prominent chefs, Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters among them, are strong advocates of brining. And there’s no doubt that brining meat in a salted water solution for a few days, before air-drying for another day or two, does result in moister meat.  You can also pre-salt the bird, and cook them with the chicken recipe given in a previous post. Cooking at higher than normal temperatures, results in a  balance of crispy skin, and moist, evenly cooked meat. (To get a scientific take on the question of brining, and his argument against the practice, check out Harold McGee’s “Curious Cook” column from New York Times.

Now for the Turkey
For this recipe, rather than just salting the bird we’re going to employ St. Helena Olive Oil Co.’s Organic Poultry Rub, which in addition to sea salt, will further enhance the flavor of your turkey with garlic; herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme; a dash of cane sugar; and spices, including chili and black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and coriander.

1 Heritage turkey (weight will vary, but estimate 1 to 1.5 lbs. weight for each guest)
SHOliveOilCo ORGANIC POULTRY RUB (a healthy handful)
6 sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 pats unsalted butter
2 tablespoons 2013 OLIO NUOVO

48 hours before roasting, take a nice fistful of Organic Poultry Rub and do just that—rub it into the skin as well as the cavity of the turkey. Don’t go too crazy, but don’t be too shy either. Place the bird (either uncovered or loosely wrapped in plastic) on a pan in your fridge. (This is definitely a challenge for larger birds, with which you may need to clear off an entire shelf just to fit the thing in there.)

Remove the bird from the fridge about an hour before roasting, and preheat the oven to 450°. Place a kitchen towel over the breastbone, and give it a good whack with a rolling pin. Remove the towel, and press down on the breast to flatten a bit (this helps ensure more even cooking of breast and legs). Gently lift the skin from the breastbone (see technique in the previous chicken recipe), and stuff sage and garlic under the skin. Rub the bird all over with the olive oil. Place on a rack in a roasting pan, and roast for approximately 2.5 hours for a 10-pound bird, adding 15 minutes for each additional pound. Please note that most ovens are not accurately calibrated, so these times are suggestions. Use your senses—especially the nose and eyes—to judge when your bird is finished. Let rest for 15-20 minutes, carve, and serve.

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Riffing on Organic Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce

by admin on October 24, 2013


Fight it as much as we might, this year’s tomato season is almost done.  Supermarkets and even local farmers’ markets still have tomatoes to sell, but even the best examples pale in aroma and flavor compared to those from the peak of the season.

If you canned your own it’s time to start using them—and popping open a jar will bring back Proustian blasts of a summer barely past. But even if you are a home-canner, there may be times when turning those preserved Early Girls or San Marzanos into a sauce is simply more than we can deal with after a long day.

St. Helena Olive Oil Company’s Organic Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce is another great item to add to your arsenal of options. The addition of garlic, chiles, and spices give it an extra nice kick.

For the ultimate in simplicity and time management, you may simply fold it into cooked pasta, grate some Parmesan over the top, and plop in front of a favorite movie with a nice glass of red wine—a young Barbera, say? Although the following recipes require a bit, but not too much more time, the rewards are well worth it.

CLAMS, BACON & RAPINI
This simple one-pot dish offers layers of flavors and textures, and can be made in about the same time it takes to boil a pot of pasta water.

1.5 lbs. Manila clams
4 strips bacon
1 cup packed, rapini, chopped
1/2 cup (or more to suit your taste) ORGANIC SPICY HEIRLOOM PASTA SAUCE
2 tablespoons plus a drizzle of EPSTEIN FAMILY ESTATE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
ORGANIC FLEUR DE SEL

Immerse the clams in a bowl of cold water, drain and repeat a few times to rid of any residual sand. Coat the bottom of a pot with the olive oil, cut the bacon into ribbons, and cook over medium heat until just brown. Remove the bacon and let rest on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Place the Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce in the pot and stir into the oil, cook for a few minutes over medium heat, then fold in the clams, the rapini, and the water or stock, raise the heat to high, and cover. Cook until all the clams have opened, discarding any that remain tight lipped. Gently toss the mixture together, and spoon into bowls, being sure to get plenty of the spicy broth. Drizzle with a swirl of the oil and a twist of fleur se sel.

— serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter

ROASTED WINTER SQUASH
This lovely vegetable dish accented with a kick of spicy sauce and Parmesan makes a
perfect accompaniment to pork and poultry.

1 Squash (butternut or another heirloom variety, about 1 to 1.5lbs
1 small yellow or red onion, chopped
1/2 cup (or more to suit your taste) ORGANIC SPICY HEIRLOOM PASTA SAUCE
2 tablespoons plus a drizzle of TWIN SISTERS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1/4 cup grated Parmesan
ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT

Preheat oven to 325°
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice the squash into wedges, leaving on the skin. Place the squash skin-side down on a roasting sheet. Drizzle with the oil and salt and roast until soft enough to pierce with a fork—about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash. About ten minutes before the squash has finished roasting, warm the sauce over low-to-medium heat. Remove the sheet from the oven, spoon the sauce over the squash, and dust with Parmesan. Return to oven, and continue roasting for approximately 10 minutes more, until it all melds together. Remove from the oven, plate, and drizzle over a bit more olive oil and Parmesan.

— serves 4 to 6 as a side dish depending on the size of the squash

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Hailing from the western hillside of the Napa Valley, our Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced from a small family farm inspired by Frances Mayes, “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

A rare Napa Valley single Spanish varietal—Manzanillo—this is a bolder style oil, offering aromas of black pepper and wind swept grasses, with hints of lemon and fennel. Its rich mouthfeel is pungent and peppery, and makes for a beautiful finishing oil.

As an homage to the passing of summer, we have selected two recipes this oil complements beautifully, drawing out and balancing flavors. One is a classic caprese salad; the other is a simple dish of grilled sardines that we like to serve with a salad of butter lettuce and avocado.

All recipes make 4 servings
Caprese Salad
While this classic epitomizes the Italian spirit of keeping things simple by focusing on the ingredients, it is the quality of the ingredients that spells the difference between something good…and something truly sublime.

Note: While this salad normally calls for ground black pepper, we’ve omitted it here to allow the peppery nature of the oil to shine through.

1 lb. fresh cow or buffalo mozzarella (sliced ¼-inch thick)
1 lb. mixed tomatoes (sliced ¼-inch thick, cherries left whole or sliced in half)
1 sprig basil or a drizzle of our Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Epstein Family Estate extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel

Arrange the mozzarella and tomato slices on a plate, in an overlapping pattern: tomato, mozzarella, etc. Using kitchen scissors, cut several basil leaves in irregular sections right over the salad. Drizzle down the center with a healthy glug of the olive oil—but don’t overdo it! Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Grilled Sardines
8 fresh sardines
1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small sprig cilantro
1 shallot
Grey sea salt

Gut and clean the sardines, rub off any stray scales, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and place in a shallow bowl. Zest the lemon, set the zest aside, cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Drizzle the lemon juice over the sardines, sprinkle them with the paprika, and slather all together.

Chop the cilantro and place in small bowl. Mince the shallot and zest and toss with the cilantro.

Grill the sardines over hardwood, mesquite, or a gas grill, or place under the broiler, approximately three to four minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Plate the sardines, top with the cilantro gremolata, give the whole thing a healthy drizzle of Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and crumble on grey sea salt to finish.

Butter Lettuce and Avocado Salad
1 head of nice leafy butter lettuce
1 avocado
1 shallot
¼ cup St. Helena Olive Oil Co Sparkling Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Pour the vinegar in a salad bowl, add the shallots, a pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt, and whisk in the olive oil (the above measurements are approximations, always taste and adjust to suit your personal taste).

Peel and slice the avocado into wedges. Clean and dry the lettuce, tear the leaves into strips, place in the bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette. Plate next to the sardines, and top the salad with the avocado wedges. An extra drizzle of olive oil is optional.

Note: While it may seem unusual to use shallots with both the sardines and salad, they have a lovely and subtle way of unifying the flavor elements of each dish, as does the dual use of the Epstein Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Williams Sonoma Catalog Cover!

by admin on August 14, 2013


I finally get to announce the launch of our products with Williams Sonoma and the fact that we are on the cover of their Fall Catalog!  It’s been a challenging process that began over a year ago.  To see it materialize is truly exciting!

As you know I’ve stayed away from wholesale distribution but after meeting the WS team I had a sense that they shared in our passion.  Because of the high volume of their order my first reaction was to have a bigger operation produce and pack for us.  I quickly discovered that our methods of production were not condusive to such operations…too time consuming.  Not willing to compromise our quality levels, I told our WS buyer that we would not be able to do the deal.  When she heard the dilemna she was very passionate about their desire to have us stay true to ourselves and they would support us in all ways to produce in house.  Their desire to have authentic product motivated me to try to make it happen.

I still had to really think about this as we produce about 480 units a day…and their order was weeks worth of production…and we had to keep up with our internal production…and could I really ask my crew to pack that many cranberries into bottles?!!  Truly on the fence, I went to the powers that be…Margarita and Lourdes.  They have been doing all of our production for over 10 years…and I told them the situation.  They didn’t even hesitate…”we can do it”… they exclaimed…”we want to do it!”.  With them on board I decided that we would go for it.  It’s been a long road since that day….with lots of roadblocks and long days…but my entire staff pulled together as a team and made it happen.  They took pride in every step of the way…and so did our vendors…Cape Blanco Cranberries, our Balsamic Producer who we’ve known for 20 years, our olive growers….everyone who was a part of this venture did so with great enthusiasm…which as always translated through to the finished product.

Now that the last pallets are being shipped we need to shift our focus to our new exposure….and we would appreciate a little help from you!  We are obviously going to be exposed to a lot of people who do not know us like you do…so if you’d like to help us in spreading the word then we’d love it if you would give your honest feedback on the WS website.  If you use our extra Virgin Olive Oil perhaps you could write a short review on Our EVOO product page or if you’ve had our Cranberry Balsamic Vinegar, it would be great if you could share a review on the Cranberry Balsamic product page...if you just have a general comment about our Company you can share that on the featured story page.

Word of mouth is why we exist and now we have a great opportunity with your honest feedback to build our community so we can continue to grow and have positive impact!

Thank you for all of your continued support!

In gratitude,

Peggy

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Balsamico Tradizionale

August 3, 2013

If you’re familiar with our shop, you’ve no doubt tasted our traditional aged balsamic vinegar. Sweet with a thick, syrupy texture, it is one of our most popular items — meant to be savored in small doses, and nothing like any vinegar you can buy in the supermarket. Our customers often ask if we make [...]

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Simple Ideas for Methode Tradizionale

August 1, 2013
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Cucumber, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad with Goat Cheese Toasts

April 27, 2013

Cucumber, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad With Goat Cheese Toasts Taken from: Fresh From The Farmer’s Market By Janet Fletcher 1 Baguette 1 TBS plus 1 tsp St. Helena Olive Oil Co. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (we used our Blade Press!) 3 Ounces Fresh Goat Cheese in One Piece For The Salad: 3/4 Pound Japanese [...]

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Truly Luminous: The Importance of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

February 15, 2013

“This buzz that is happening is real,” said Mike Bradley, an Oakland-based importer of high quality olive oils from around the world. Mike was talking about a growing consumer interest in olive oil, and a growing public awareness of the difference between the stale oils that line the supermarket shelves and the fresh, flavorful oils [...]

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