We never thought we’d see the day. We’d talked about it forever, but the idea that we might someday bring our Italian olive oil to the U.S. and see it sold by our favorite stores and restaurants lived somewhere on the extreme edge of our day-to-day reality. In the meantime, we went to work, raised our children and visited our olive grove in the southern Italian region of Puglia just often enough to revive the fantasy for another year.
On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon late in May in Portland, Oregon, our olive oil saw the light of day. Thanks to our guardian angels Lisa Hill of Lisa Hill Public Relations and Jim Dixon of Real Good Food, we hosted an incredibly gracious crowd of olive oil aficionados, food writers, friends and family to welcome Pascarosa to these American shores. We arrived from Martina Franca a few days early to catch our breath and make sure our oil really had arrived at the Port of Portland after its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.
On the morning of the tasting, I made Fave e Cicoria (puree of fava beans and wild chicory) to serve with our oil. It’s an ideal vehicle for intensely flavored Pascarosa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil if there ever was one. Jim offered his Farro e Fagioli Pantesco, a bean and grain stew of savory goodness featuring Bluebird Grain farro, Haricot Farms rojo chiquito beans, Jim’s imported oregano from the Sicilian island of Pantelleria and Pascarosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our guests literally ate it all up.
The entire Faris family was on hand. Francesca served tastes of the food we prepared, Sarah poured wine from partner AniChe Cellars, Stephen sold olive oil, Brian talked to guests and worked on troubleshooting our online checkout process and I was all about the tasting, sharing Pascarosa harvest stories and answering questions about polyphenolic content and the like. I wished I could have spent more time with everyone—what a great group these olive oil fans are!
This tasting event was the first real opportunity we’ve had to test the market, collecting feedback from connoisseurs and casual tasters alike. Apart from enthusiastic support for both styles of Pascarosa olive oil, the group’s collective passion for Italy in general and its cuisine in particular was inspiring. We’re planning a few culinary and olive harvest tours this fall: very small groups and hands-on experiences with farmers, home cooks, cheese makers, vintners and olive millers. And oh, yes, lots of wonderful meals in the company of convivial travel companions and a few locals, too.
We learned so much from our first tasters on that lovely Portland evening and we’re incredibly grateful for the experience. As we sold our last tin of olive oil, we couldn’t believe how well it all went. We met so many lovely people who care deeply about preserving quality, ensuring that the next generation of olive farmers in rural Italy finds a market for the olive they’ve made for centuries. Most of all, we are convinced that our long-ago notion of sharing genuine, pesticide-free extra virgin olive oil with a new audience in the U.S. is the right thing to do. And thanks to all of you for your generous encouragement. Your feedback has been the most incredible gift of all.