Joys Of Gourmet Olive Oil
Wednesday - March 07, 2007
Yellingbo co-founder Jeremy
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of local farm produce. A heavenly meal to me is something that comes straight from the ground with minimal cooking time. Terry Shintaku’s Hauula tomatoes (when I can get them,) Dean Okimoto’s greens and some great Mauna Kea Baking Company bread are the ingredients for my perfect meal. And while my loyalties will always lie first and foremost with Hawaii’s farmers, I’m really interested in global foods grown on a small, often organic level.
Whenever I go home to Scotland, I make a beeline for the cheese shops and spend hours browsing the open markets tasting local foods. Here on Oahu we have our own wonderful farmers markets (the best ones are at KCC on Saturday mornings and in Kailua on Thursday evenings) and, if you look carefully, there’s a growing number of artisan products appearing on supermarket shelves.
Times Supermarkets is leading the way when it comes to a range of high-quality imports from Australia. On the shelves at selected Times stores you can now find a range of jams, chutneys and jellies from Pastilla Nash, a range of chocolates and truffles made using indigenous Australian herbs such as lemon myrtle and anise from a company called Wild About You, and Yellingbo - one of the best olive oils I’ve ever tasted.
Cold pressed within six hours of harvest and then shipped to Hawaii just weeks after bottling, Yellingbo Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the freshest oil you can buy. Olive oil, unlike wine, does not improve with age, so it’s highly likely that the bottle you’ve been delicately dipping into for more than a year is rancid.
“Most people don’t really know what a good olive oil tastes like,” says co-founder of the Yellingbo brand, Jeremy Meltzer. “What we do is try to create a well-balanced blend of oils that can be shipped almost as soon as they are harvested.”
And Australia’s Southern Hemisphere location means a harvest that comes six months before Europe. Yellingbo oil has a beautiful fresh, light aroma with hints of tropical fruit, a taste of almonds and just a hint of pepper, and its limited Reserve EVO has complexity and depth with a ton of apple, pear and caramel flavors.
I know, you thought olive oil was just supposed to be oily, but Yellingbo will totally change your mind.
Jeremy and his dad, Howard, produce the oil on their family farm, hand-picking the olives, “not because we want to, but because we can’t afford the machinery to do it for us, ” says Jeremy, laughing. Turns out that’s a good thing - machinery bruises the delicate olive skin, and bruising results in a bitter flavor. Jeremy and his dad started growing olives in part because Howard wanted to re-create a taste from his childhood.
“My grandmother from Romania used to make this fabulous beef stroganoff with her own olive oil, and I think my dad wanted to try and capture that taste,” says Jeremy.
Turns out he captured a taste that foodies are raving about.
And Yellingbo has a feel-good factor that goes beyond the family farm. After almost losing two of his sisters in the South Asian tsunami of 2004, Jeremy stayed and worked in relief camps in India and Sri Lanka to help with the devastation the waves left behind. Today, 5 percent of the proceeds of Yellingbo sales go to the Jasmine Foundation (jasminefoundation.org) in support of orphanages in Sri Lanka.
You’ll find Yellingbo at select Times Supermarkets and at R. Field, Foodland Beretania.
To hear an interview with Jeremy Meltzer, go to wineanddinehawaii.com/podcasts.
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