May 17th, 2010


Texas Olive Ranch

So this new manager (we'll call him, "POW!") comes in one Monday with a bottle of olive oil tucked under his arm, and he sets it on his desk. Invariably, we ask him about it. Once enough interest is generated, and not unlike a snake-oil salesman, he cracks the top and introduces us to mesquite-smoked olive oil, made right here in Texas. He bought it at our local Farmer's Market over the past weekend.

Let's not forget my fascination with Shiner's Smokehaus or more recently discovering the beer which started it all, real German rauchbier. I'm all about the smoke, people, and the gorgeous aroma emanating from this bottle of oil was just the tip of the olive. Let me explain...

There was some muckety-muck coming to town for one of those corporate "All Hands" meetings which I normally don't attend. They're more like publicity stunts than anything else, and effect no real, lasting change. Its a feel-good meeting is all. And I explained to the new manager that this is why I wasn't planning on being there - then I said, "But you're impassioned speech in the meeting the other day turned all that around for me - so much so in fact, that I RSVP'd. I'll be there!" Looking confused and trying to recall such "impassioned" words he finally asked, "Is this about the pizza I'm ordering?"

Not to sully my compliment, but yes, it was. "Chicago Street" pizza here in McKinney was voted "Better Than The Real Thing" when our very own drax0r took the train to Boston a couple of years ago and stopped in Chicago asking native Chicagans, "WHERE IS YOUR BEST EXAMPLE OF CHICAGO-STYLE PIZZA?" He ate a slice at Gino's East and declared "Chicago Street" pizza better. That's good enough for me. But I digress.

So it was as if this new manager, POW! was sent from the heavens to bless those of us who like to eat, when he suggested, almost innocently, "Hey, why don't we bring that mesquite-smoked olive oil to the pizza party to dip our crusts in like the Macaroni Grill?" We all stood there, slack-jawed at him. This was no mere mortal we were in the presence of, and we did just that.

The one caution he had was, "It might be a little bold for a dipping oil." He couldn't have been more right, or more wrong. The one problem I have personally with "smoked" foodstuffs is NOT ENOUGH SMOKE. This was overwhelmingly smoke-filled and fantastic because of it. There must've been half a dozen of us with our snouts down in our plates trying to lap up every last drop of oily goodness, and we shared a moment of silence when the pizza was gone.

I wanted to immolate myself with the oil as my accelerant but instead was honored as coronet bearer, transporting the bottle back to our desks while I stood slightly behind, and to the left of POW! I wished I had a little pillow on which to rest it as I displayed it proudly down the hall.

That next weekend my family and I found ourselves downtown, and we beeline'd to the Farmer's Market where I hunted high and low for that precious, precious vendor of bottled happiness. But POW! had beaten me to it. With his otherworldly ways, he'd preceded me and bought them all out. I introduced myself and was immediately recognized as an agent of the now-infamous pizza party, and was sold a bottle of garlic olive oil, a bottle of basil olive oil, and a bottle of *ahem* freaking "rattlesnake" chipotle & red pepper olive oil!

My dear readers - please understand when I tell you that this very night I ate the Best Eggs I Have Ever Eaten. And I eat a lot of eggs. I heated up the griddle and cracked two free-range eggs in a glass measuring cup, blending them on low with the hand beater. Then I added about an eighth of a cup of the rattlesnake and blended it on high for only seconds. I put another eighth of cup on the griddle and spread it out with the bottom of a flat spatula and poured the mixture atop it. Sprinkling the exposed, uncooked egg with cheese, I folded the flaps onto each other before turning the omelette once and served it atop a toasted whole wheat English muffin.

With so many fantastic oils, I'll never buy plain EVOO again. Its just not worth my happiness.

Olive You