Likely you’ve never heard of Arbequina, or Picual, or Hojiblanca or Cornicabra. Yet all four are top olive oil varietals from Spain, and each offers its own remarkable tasting experience. Sorry, California olive growers, we still love you the best, but every now and then we’ve got to explore the world.
To showcase the unique European flavors, the Olive Oil from Spain commission has partnered with some of San Francisco’s best restaurants for a weeklong special menu, where top chefs will create dishes showcasing the oils.
From tapas at neighborhood favorites Canela and Contigo, to high-concept culinary art at Michelin two-starred Atelier Crenn, the tasty tour runs November 12 through 18. Each chef is challenged with creating recipes that highlight each oil’s character.
Arbequina, for example, is buttery and mild. Cornicabra is fruity and pungent. Hojiblanca is sweet and creamy, while Picual is grassy and good for frying.
At a sneak preview dinner last week at Atelier Crenn, chef Dominique Crenn Hamachi wowed diners with her delicate, olive oil-rich caviar, beet gelee and celery sorbet; a tomato water and olive oil soup decorated with tomato, olive “rock” and chèvre, and an entrée of succulent slabs of squab dressed with sunchoke and huckleberry jam.
The dessert was a masterpiece, presented in a handcrafted wood shadowbox, with olive branches under the glass and a large branch poking out of a hole in the glass so it towered over the dessert itself. That dessert also looked like an olive tree, in olive ice creams, foams and “soil” cake.
Make your reservations now, since seating at each restaurant is limited.
Contigo, 1320 Castro St. San Francisco, 415-285-0250, contigosf.com.
Canela, 2272 Market St. San Francisco, 415-552-3000, canelasf.com.
Atelier Crenn, 3127 Fillmore St. San Francisco, 415-440-0460, ateliercrenn.com.
Tip: Grease the wheels for an easy ride into the city, with a private limo or Town Car from Pure Luxury Transportation.