This was only my second olive oil tasting event that I’ve ever attended, and I can you that what I thought knew about olive oil and what the reality is, was two completely different things!
The format is pretty much the same as at any other tasting. First, you learn the finer points of the featured ingredient, then you learn “how” to taste it, and then lastly, you taste, and voila, your now an expert.
This tasting was lead by Alfonso Fernandez, one of the most passionate and well informed purveyors of a product that I’ve ever met at a tasting. Alfonso flew in from Spain to share his impressive knowledge about the olive oil business, just for this event. He educated us on Spain's role as the world leader in olive oil production, and then went on to explain about its many growing regions and varietals. He then demonstrated the precise method on how tasting olive oil should be done, it was a remarkable experience.
After we learned how to taste the oils, the group was treated to a special lunch of Tappas, featuring each of the tasting oils incorporated into a dish prepared by Vermilion’s executive Chef Maneet Chauhan and her expert staff.
Chef Chauhan, who competed on Iron Chef this year, came out to greet us and kick off the Tappas portion of the event. So in effect, I got to experience a little bit the feeling of what an Iron Chef panel judge experiences as she came out after each plate to explain her influence and inspiration for each of the Tapas dishes that she presented. She also detailed how the oil was used, and what she was trying to accomplish with the dishes other supporting ingredients.
So here’s my wrap up; I was immensely impressed with the olive oil tasting portion of the program lead by Alfonso, and I enjoyed each of the oils. I think the education we received was indeed priceless.
For the Tappas portion of the event, I felt that the creativity of each of the dishes prepared was off the charts and impressive as well. But I also felt that Chef Chauhan went a bit too deep into a seafood only group of preparations, and unfortunately (for me) we didn’t get to experience any land based meat options.
Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of either oysters or anchovies, which were the two star ingredients on two of the four plates that we were served. But both the delicious seared tuna plate, and the amazing dessert more than made up for any negative feelings I may have had.
Overall, it was a fantastic learning experience, and an excellent meal at a great downtown restaurant with other foodies and media types to enjoy it with.
Value: Not rated