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Thursday, February 4, 2010

I LOVE OLIVES!

I've written many times about the gang we hang around with while we stay in Mesa, Arizona. Our group continues to grow each year, and when we're all together, there's over 22 of us! A few weeks ago several of us got together and talked about things we wanted on our "bucket list" to see and do during our time left this winter. I suggested the Queen Creek Olive Mill.

The Annual Olio Nuovo Festival (New Oil) is going on right now. During the festival they offer wine tasting, vendor product tasting, and music. Sixteen of us piled into four cars and headed out to the olive mill.

The mill is located about 22 miles southeast of us and it was a beautiful drive out there. Here's a shot of Superstition Mountain through a window of a moving van. I thought it came out pretty good. These mountains have a purplish tint to them. They are so beautiful.



The first person I ran into was this handsome gentleman wearing this great T-shirt. I couldn't resist getting my picture taken with him.



You may notice that I'm pointing to the "Extra Virgin" printed on his shirt. He did make a snarky remark about not being able to say the same about me!

First stop - tasting some nuts.




These cayenne pepper almonds sure had a bite to them!
















Now these cocoa almonds were more my speed!






Next up - wine tasting. We lined up down a brick path for what we thought would be a nice full glass of wine. Notice the olive trees in the background.




I was at the end of the line and I heard my friends giggling and laughing.

"What's up?" I asked.

My friend Kathy showed me exactly how much wine she got for her "taste". Just a sip.



Bottoms up!




Hail, hail, the gang's all here!



This lovely young woman is Jessica. She turned out to be our tour guide. Here she is demonstrating three different types of olive oil - from buttery to one that has a "bite" to it. I have to admit, I drank more olive oil than I did wine that day!



Our tour didn't start for about an hour, so we browsed through the store. It was filled will lots of goodies. Their specialty being olives, of course, meant jars of olives. But not JUST olives, but STUFFED olives. Olives stuffed with oregano and feta, or mesquite smoked almonds,Vermouth garlic, or sun baked tomato basil. Making your mouth water yet?

Of course, the olive oil came in so many flavors - lemon, balsamic, strawberry, garlic Parmesan, to name a few. I bet they had 50 different varieties.



Here's just a few of the wonderful things in the store:

Different colored and flavored pasta



Care for some wine?



Kitchen utensils - I think they might have been made from olive wood.



Large, brightly colored urns.



T-shirts.



I thought this was cute posted on the wall in the store.



This is the little cafe inside the store. The food looked delicious, although we had already planned to eat at another place afterward.



Here is some of the gang waiting under the gazebo for the tour to start.



This is Jessica, our tour guide. She was wonderful. Not only was she cute, but she was enthusiastic AND she knew her stuff.



Jessica gave us a brief history of the mill, talked about how they gathered the olives, then brought us into the room where they actually press the olives.

This is the olive press. It came from Italy and was delivered by a man named Guido. True Story.



What I found amazing is that they use the whole olive - pit and all.

I love this sign. No matter what the language - you understand "no touchie"!



This is the bottler machine. Not a great picture, but I wanted you to get the idea of how small this operation is, yet it bottles 3,000 gallons of olive oil a season.




Some bottles waiting to be filled.



Here is a quick shot of their olive grove as we drove by. They no longer allow tours of the grove.



All in all, we had a great time visiting the Queen Creek Olive Mill. I learned a lot about how to make olive oil on the tour, it's a fun place to visit, and I would recommend it to anyone if they come to this area for a visit. Visit their website to learn more information and see some beautiful pictures of their groves and store. Also, they have a couple of clips from Dirty Jobs on pressing the olives and raking the olives from the trees.

Hope you enjoyed my little tour!

20 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

that looks like a delightful day...I loved all the kitchen stuff in the store, and the wine...oh my;) Your group of friends look like they would be a hoot to hang with.

peace

Nancy said...

Very cool! I have gone to mills in California, so I have the basic idea but this little tour was very interesting. Isn't it amazing how the oils all taste so different? I like the buttery ones for dipping. Thanks for taking us along!

As for that sip of wine - it wasn't worth the plastic glass! geeze

f8hasit said...

Looks like it was a fab day! (except for the tease on the vino)

Did that handsome gentleman have jeans on that said, "No touchie?"
:-)

Sunny said...

What a great place to visit. The wine tasting was almost funny!
Sunny :)

Brian Miller said...

wow. that sounds like a great trip! love all the pics...and the mountains....

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

we love stuff like that! Thanks for sharing -- you were a good tour guide too. Wish I'd known about the place when we stayed in AZ.

Rae said...

Looks like a great place to visit. Nice T-shirt - hope you bought one to wear. You would certainly get a lot of attention..

Fran Hill @ Being Miss said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip. I really WANT one of those 'Olive you' T-shirts.

Noelle said...

looks like a wonderful time! any day filled with stuffed olives and flavored olive oils has to be wonderful!

love the pictures!

Deb said...

love your photos...looks like fun

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

What an interesting tour! Looks like a great group of friends. Wonder who is the biggest cut-up of the lot?

Wanda said...

Really enjoyed the tour Pat, very interesting!

misslynda said...

Excellent pictures & very educational. Great memories were made for your group.

You mentioned the show, Dirty Jobs. I love that show.

A New England Life said...

Good lord Pat, where have I been?! You have such a great sense of humor! That guy with the shirt, I'm sure he got a kick out you. LOL!

I can't believe the size of those glasses for a sip! Honestly, talk about waste.

Your group looks like so much fun! Who knew Olive Oil could be so entertaining? : )

Gail said...

Enjoyed the tour.

I was wondering, just how much olive oil did you drink and when do you think that will hit?

Looks like a wonderful time was had by all. Wish I was there.

suzicate said...

Thanks for the cool tour. Love the extra virgin t-shirt. I love colorful urns, as long as that don't contain somebody's ashes! Hope you got a real glass of wine when you left.

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

That is a great review Pat. I do love olives and eat tons.You did an excellent post!
Betty xx

Lindy MacDuff said...

Great shot of my favorite mountain, especially for being in a moving vehicle! If you haven't already, check it out at sunset time. It turns red and gold, and is GORGEOUS!

I had no clue that olive mill was in QC. We have avoided that area like the plague for the last several years because of all the growth and the lack of the local road system (Ellsworth and Ironwood) to keep up. Hopefully that work is complete now.

Talk about being stingy with the wine tasting! Sheesh! I think one gets a bigger sip at Mass!

Great job on the tour...you could fill in for Marc Summers on Food Network's "Unwrapped."

Thérèse said...

Such a nice description of the place that I visited years ago... and I love your comments :)

SquirrelQueen said...

That was a fun tour, I love hearing about how they pressed the oil. If you want to really taste wine come up this way, none of that three drops in a plastic glass here, you drink wine.