Yesterday, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I went to the Miles Farmers Market, a lovely place that has been around since I was just a child! It has really grown since then, transforming from a small fruit and vegetable stand to a huge gourmet business, and you can get millions of wonderful ingredients there. If you combined the best farmers market in the world with Dean & Deluca's in New York City, you'd have it. www.milesfarmersmarket.com
At any rate when I walked in, I was greeted with a wonderful surprise, actually more like a gift from the olive oil gods! They have installed a beautiful tasting bar for olive oils and all different types of vinegars, and you can taste as many as you would like! So I went to work, filling little cups with the different oils and really tasting them , enjoying them all and finally decided on an organic cold pressed oil from Spain that had the freshness of newly harvested hay. I could just as easily chosen a vintage oil from Napa, or a beautifully silky virgin oil from France, but the Spanish oil was captivating, a bit unfiltered and very buttery.
Then I moved on to the vinegars, and ended up with two lovely yet very different flavors, one a california champagne vinegar infused with pomegranates, and the other, a hearty balsamic vinegar infused with dates, that was incrediblyperfect stirred into the drippings from the lamb shanks that I cooked last night.
It is incredible to me, the many nuances of flavor that you can discover in olive oils. Almost like good wines, you can begin to taste the flavor of the soils they were grown in, the nature of the land and the people that harvested them. By the time I left , I was still tasting the oils on my tongue and it was a feeling of bliss! Tasting pure foods in that way really makes you want to cook well and travel more! I'd love to see them harvest the olives and press the oil. I think that everyone should try to grow some of their own foods, even if it's several pots of herbs on a windowsill, or a hanging basket of tomatoes or a full blown garden. Being responsible for some of my food helps me make good choices, I eat better and I really enjoy providing food for my family and friends that I've nurtured myself. Growing some of your food keeps you close to the earth in a way that simply buying it in packages at the grocery store doesn't. In the long run, it's also less expensive,especially if you eat seasonally. Those are all really good reasons I think to grow some food of your own, but I really do it for the joyous taste of the tomato that I just ate off of the vine still warm from the midday sun.