Olive oil is what makes a kitchen a kitchen, and a meal a meal. It's the foundation as well as the perfect finish for all gatherings and dishes. We dip, drizzle, and even soak in olive oil. It is the base of the Mediterranean diet, a secret beauty elixir, and as Wonder Valley mentions, "the Greeks bathed in it, Roman kings were crowned in it, and for centuries life was illuminated by olive oil."
We talk to Wonder Valley's husband-and-wife team Alison and Jay Carroll about their very own extra virgin olive oil, which we're so happy to feature in our newly launched Host & Gather gift box. An olive oil harvested in November of 2014 and pressed to a limited number of 600 coveted bottles.
1. Tell us how you dreamed up this beautiful product, Wonder Valley Olive Oil.
Wonder Valley, the olive oil, came about after my experience as the marketing director for the California olive oil council. That role taught me an appreciation for exception olive oil, and in it I found mentors from the professional tasters, master millers, and olive farmers I worked with.
Wonder Valley was created with my husband, Jay Carroll, after spending a great deal of time in this unique region of the Mojave desert. What we love about it out here is that it’s what we imagine the original spirit of California to have been; a place so raw and beautiful, vast and timeless, so open to interpretation and reinvention… for us it’s celebrating the richness of experience within that desolate environment and creating an oasis in the desert full of optimism and splendor.
2. Your olive oil is so bright and light. What makes the oil so delicious?
The flavor of olive oil comes from two things; the olive varietals used and their maturity when picked. Wonder Valley is a blend of three types of olives: Taggiasca - a very bright and herbaceous olive, Ascolano – a very unusual and rare olive with the aroma of stone fruit and green almonds, and Arbequina - a very mild and buttery olive to round it out. The olives are harvested while still partially green, not fully black and ripe. For flavor, this creates a grassier, greener oil. For health, this is packed with a higher amount of polyphenols, the powerful antioxidant associated with longevity.
3. What's your favorite way to enjoy Wonder Valley olive oil?
There’s endless ways – I bake with it, it’s the finishing touch on everything I cook, or an easy dessert over vanilla ice cream with coarse salt… I also use it as a base for hair and face oil daily. My favorite way is to halve an avocado, add WV olive oil, pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon, and eat with a spoon.
4. I love your packaging and label. I can envision this Greek Goddess gracing many a beautiful product. Do you see expanding your offerings?
Yes, absolutely. The collection will expand as we create pieces for the home, kitchen, and artist studio, to be released in the coming months.
5. We're so happy to include Wonder Valley olive oil in our Host + Gather gift box. When it comes to gifting, do you prefer to give or to receive?
6. What's the best gift you have ever given?
With my friends and family, I love to show up with produce from a farmers market, wine, olive oil, and maybe some unique salt or spice. We roll up our sleeves and cook together. I guess that’s a gift for both of us. The most memorable gift I’ve received as a host was during a Sunday breakfast all day party we hosted – a friend gave me an incredible cobalt colored Turkish towel wrapped around a beautiful blue ceramic bowl filled with the biggest blueberries I’ve ever seen.
All pictures courtesy of Wonder Valley with exception of the last two, taken by Nancy Neil for Simone LeBlanc, and #2 & #3 found via Pinterest.