Before we go any further, I need to let you know that this is a sponsored post. However, I must also say we are thrilled to be working with this olive oil producer and bring their passion for excellence to our readers, as well as pass on some useful guidelines to follow when shopping for olive oil.
AS GOOD AS IT GETS
I’m often asked what type of cuisine I would classify H2FaL recipes under. Some have asked what the criteria is for a dish to become “Loon Approved.” I usually contemplate the question a bit, but always respond: The only criteria is that is has to be absolutely delicious. Almost always, as we explore and experiment with different types of cuisines, we discover recipes, ingredients and techniques that are rich in heritage and steeped in history. And down-right scrumptious.
And as committed as we are to share a wide range of recipes that inspire and excite, we also love using food products that are superior in the culinary world.
Which is why we are excited and honored to share with you an incredible olive oil farm that is located in California called Rancho Azul y Oro.
QUALITY ON GREEN ROLLING HILLS
A little history: Rancho Azul y Oro is a family-run olive oil farm in San Miguel, California owned by Stuart and Kathryn Keeler. Both Stuart and Kathy spent many successful, yet stressful, years in the frenetic legal sector of Los Angeles. But as careers careened forward and deadlines increasingly tightened, they more and more could sense the beautiful golden hills of California calling their names in the distance. These are the same hills Stuart grew to know and love as a young boy.
The couple eventually discovered a property in the rolling hills of the Paso Robles area that not only drew them in, but led them, and their entire family, into a dream-come-true journey of planting, cultivating and growing their very own olive farm and blossoming business.
They traded those long, stressful days from L.A. to long, hard-working…but extremely fruitful and fulfilling days in the hills of sunny California. In those transitional years, they learned a lot, and they learned it fast.
And let me tell you, they know what they are doing.
In an amazingly short amount of time, Kathy and Stuart, with the help of their entire family, including grand-children, have grown Rancho Azul y Oro into an award-winning force in the highly competitive global olive oil industry. Each year, the accolades and awards grow, including a ‘Best of Class’ Gold Medal at the 2017 California State Fair.
Incidentally, you may be wondering about their name: Azul y Oro is Spanish for Blue and Gold, which are the colors of the State of California, but also represent a tapestry which is visible in their ranch, their vistas, and even their family.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN SHOPPING FOR OLIVE OIL
Both Wesley and I have learned so much about the world of olive oil since meeting Stuart and Kathy. First, it is important to understand that Extra Virgin Olive Oils are like wine, in that they offer a range of flavors that vary based on olive type, harvest time, growing region and other factors. Taste and health benefits of olive oil are closely tied to its quality and freshness, however there is still little you can do to be sure you’re buying a bottle of EVOO that is of highest quality. Harvest and “best before” dates can indicate freshness, but they provide no assurance that the oil is free of defects and adulteration.
To help provide purchasing confidence, a number of quality seal programs have been developed that monitor and certify the quality of olive oils displaying their stickers. There are two main certifying bodies in North America: The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) and The California Olive Council (COOC).
A few points to keep in mind when shopping for a quality olive oil:
- To be a certified extra virgin olive oil, the olives must be picked, sorted and milled within 24 hours; a producer’s choice of mill is also very important.
- Many oils call themselves extra virgin olive oil but unless they go through the certification process and bear a certification seal on the label, they are not certified extra virgin olive oils.
- Being certified organic does not mean an oil is certified EVOO.
- The certification process requires that after the oil is milled, samples are provided to a lab for testing; if the oil passes the lab test, it moves on to the next step.
- Additional samples must be then submitted to an independent tasting panel of one of the certifying organizations. The panel will blind taste the samples to determine if any defects are present. If not, it is then certified as extra virgin olive oil and the seal is awarded, which should be on all bottles of certified extra virgin olive oil.
Kathy explained to us that folks for so long have only tasted and cooked with olive oil that is not certified, and quite simply, not ‘up to snuff, ‘ and once they do finally smell and taste fresh, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, they are amazed at the difference.
When Wesley and I first tried Rancho Azul y Oro’s array of oils, we instantly understood what she meant. The taste is so fresh, grassy (in a good way), herbaceous and forward. And just divine.
RANCHO AZUL Y ORO’S AMAZING PRODUCTS
And then finally, and I flipped when I first tried this one: Estate Smoked Olive Oil. That’s right, smoked. Trust me, it’s as incredible as it sounds.
We can’t rave enough about the taste and health benefits of Azul y Oro’s olive oils. And they don’t just stop with olive oil, they also produce gourmet salts and spices, jams and jellies, hand-crafted soaps, and wine…yes, amazing California wine. Just incredible.
H2FAL FANS GET A DISCOUNT!
We are so excited to let you know that as a H2FaL fan, you’ll receive a 10% discount when you order these top-notch olive oils and products!
Simply apply the Discount Code: H2FaL. You guys are going to love these products as much as we do, we are absolutely certain of that. Shop their full array of amazing products now! (click on ‘Store’).
AND NOW…THE BEST MUFFIN – EVER!
We are so thrilled to present you with the best muffin recipe on the planet (we think you’ll agree!). We used Rancho Azul y Oro’s incredible Lemon-Infused Olive Oil and let us tell you, it’s the bomb!
Recipe will be published Saturday, March 10, 2018! Keep your eyes open for this incredible muffin!. If you haven’t already subscribed to our newsletter, be sure to do so, so you’ll receive the recipe in your inbox! Subscribe here!
This is a sponsored post, but all the text, images and opinions are 100% ours.