A Different Kind of Bel Air Estate

Try a truly local olive oil

"Local" is a slippery word to define. Can it adequately describe both vegetables grown in Paso Robles and fruit from your neighbor's backyard? When we find a product that originates right in the heart of our city, calling it "local" feels like an understatement.

Such is the case with the new olive oil from Moraga Vineyards. The Bel Air winery has vintages of its Cabernet-Merlot blend dating back to 1989, but olives are a new venture. The first commercial pressing ($30) was released only last month and is available exclusively at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.

Nestled in the hills east of the Sepulveda Pass, Moraga's 14 acres are protected from the smog of the nearby 405 by the fortuitous geography of the Santa Monica Mountains. The vines have shared space with 100 olive trees since 2001, and the still-young orchard produced its first commercial harvest last fall.

A blend of six olive varieties from Tuscany and Provence, the golden-hued oil is ripe, rich and slightly grassy, with a lingering peppery finish. It could easily pass for either region's best.

Too expensive and delicately flavored to be sacrificed to a hot pan, this is an olive oil for finishing dishes. For example, a liberally poured streak will enliven any of spring's vegetable crop.

The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, 419 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-278-2855 or cheesestorebh.com