A little olive oil goes a long way to enhance food. In California, and specifically Orange County, a bit of olive oil drizzled over a bed of bright green lettuce and fresh, juicy tomatoes with a side of perfectly ripe avocado makes the kind of meal summers are made of.
So with that freshness in mind, the 2017 OC Fair held its inaugural California Olive Oil Competition, and winners will be featured this summer during the Fair. The competition focused on the Fair’s theme of “Farm Fresh Fun” and was open to all California olive oil producers.
Fairgoers will be able to enjoy complimentary tastings of these decadent olive oils, as well as learn a few tricks of the trade at food pairing demos hosted by the olive oil makers. The award-winning products will be available for sale in the OC Promenade.
The olive oils were divided into two divisions for the competition: extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) and flavored olive oils, which could either be co-milled or infused. Gold, Silver and Best of Show medals were awarded.
The four-member OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel tasted 33 olive oils.
Nancy Ash, of Strictly Olive Oil, served as head judge and adviser. As a professional olive oil consultant, she has been a frequent judge at various fairs including the California State Fair, the Big Fresno Fair San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition and the Los Angeles County Fair.
This year’s competition was coordinated by OC Fair & Event Center’s team of Evy Young, agriculture education supervisor; Barbara Gregerson, garden and floral program coordinator; and Pamela Wnuck, culinary arts supervisor.
Meet the OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel
Thom Curry – proprietor, Temecula Olive Oil Company; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel; professional olive oil taster; sommelier and wine tasting judge
Lawrence Jacobs – conventional and specialty grocery buyer, Oliver’s Markets; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel
Arden Kremer – organic and biodynamic grape grower in Sonoma County; member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel
Kathryn Tomajan – Oleologist; miller; educator; olive grower; expert taster and trained sensory panel member; and member, California Olive Oil Council Tasting Panel
The OC Fair Olive Oil Tasting Panel received intensive training from members of the California Olive Oil Council pursuant to the guidelines of the International Olive Council.
Announcing the winners of the 2017 OC Fair California Olive Oil Competition
Extra Virgin Olive Oils Division Winners
Best of Show – Lodi Olive Oil’s Ascolano
Silver Medals – Tyler Florence Test Kitchen (Blend), Fandango (Blend), Calivirgin Premium (Arbequina), ENZO Ranch 11 (Arbosana), ENZO Ranch 20 (Arbosana) Fandango (Arbequina), San Miguel Olive Farm Pristine (Italian blend), Macala (Blend), ENZO Ranch 11 (Koroneiki) and ENZO Ranch 20 (Koroneiki)
Gold Medals – Lodi Olive Oil (Ascolano), San Miguel Olive Farm Nectar (Italian Blend), ENZO Ranch 11 (Arbequina) and ENZO Ranch 20 (Arbequina)
Flavored Olive Oils
Best of Show – Calivirgin’s Hot Virgin Jalapeno
Silver Medals – ENZO (Clementine), Calivirgin (Rosemary), Calivirgin (Basil) and ENZO (Basil) and Calivirgin (Garlic)
Gold Medals – Calivirgin (Blood Orange), Calivirgin (Hot Virgin Jalapeño), Calivirgin (Jalapeño-Garlic), Calivirgin (Lemon), Calivirgin (Habañero) and ENZO (Fresno Chili)
The 2017 OC Fair is July 14 – Aug. 13 and will offer 23 days and nights of entertainment, food, rides, shopping, exhibits and more. The Fair is open Wednesdays through Sundays. For more information, visit www.ocfair.com.