"A cucumber should be well-sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out." - Samuel Johnson
Apparently, Samuel Johnson wasn't using the right vinegar.
I always bring my friends up to the Santa Ynez valley for a day when they visit, because it’s wine country and my friends are alcoholics. This past Saturday I went up to the Santa Ynez valley to spend some time with my friend Charyl, who lives there.
Our destination was Los Olivos, a picturesque town of 1,000 residents where every storefront is a tasting room or art gallery of some kind. We were headed to Global Gardens, owned and operated by Theo Stephan. Theo produces all different kinds of olive oil, vinegar, sauces, and glazes. She’s recently released her first cookbook, Olive Oil & Vinegar for Life, with lots of creative recipes (including lots of vegan ones!).
While Charyl waited in line to get her cookbook signed by Theo, I looked around the store. Look at all that fancy oil and vinegar!
Solvang Pie Company to dip in it.
I was most impressed by the taste of the walnut oil. Theo’s daughter Anita, who was in charge of the tasting, told me that their walnut oil provided 100% of my daily Omega-3 fatty acid requirement. Since I don’t eat fish, I’m always looking for ways to get more Omega-3; usually I just binge on ground flax seed (and by “binge” I mean sprinkle it in my oatmeal).
So I bought a bottle of the walnut oil. (I used it to grill tofu that night and it worked really well; it withstood the high heat much better than olive oil does.)
Outside the shop, Theo’s other daughter was providing tastes of some of the recipes in the new cookbook. I tried the Cowgirl Blue Caviar made with Meyer Lemon Balsamic Bliss, one of Global Gardens’ signature vinegars. Obviously, it’s not really caviar – it’s a dip made of avocado, garlic, corn, beans, cilantro, and of course olive oil and vinegar. Yum!
Since I had splurged and dropped $20 on fancy walnut oil, I couldn’t afford to buy my own copy of Theo’s cookbook, but I went ahead and stole some of the recipes out of Charyl’s copy. I’m excited to try them – but the Global Gardens operation is really inspiring and it makes me want to invent my own recipes using oils and special vinegars.
If only Samuel Johnson had known about Global Gardens (or had lived two hundred years longer), he wouldn't have wasted so many cucumbers.