Georgia Olive Farms Oil, A Must-Have in Sean Brock's Pantry
Sean Brock takes the idea of local very seriously. He gets his truffles from Tennessee and sources his cured country hams from Kentucky. Now, for his Husk restaurants in Charleston and Nashville, the chef doesn't have to look very far for olive oil, either.
Georgia Olive Farms released their incredibly smooth, clean-tasting oil ($32 for 500 ml) in 2011.
Brock likes what's being pressed from Peach State olives.
"We treat it like gold," the chef says. "The flavor of this oil is very fruity and has little to no spice, which makes it much more versatile."
Georgia's actually no newcomer to homegrown oil.
"Spanish settlers were growing olives on the coast as late as the 1860s," says Georgia Olive Farms owner Jason Shaw. "We don't know why it stopped."
The Shaws have taken it upon themselves to revitalize the South as an oil-producing region. Starting in 2009, they began buying up coastal land in Lakeland, Georgia and planting arbequino, arbosana and koroneiki olives--pressing them into oils one day after they're harvested.
They started with 20 acres; today they're up to 250. Full production has now kicked in and Georgia Olive Farms's third crop is set to harvest this month, just in time to use their new on-site milling machine.
At his restaurants, Brock uses the oil solely to finish dishes. However, just for us, he's made a peppery pesto out of the prized oil for a plum, tomato and goat cheese salad (see the recipe).
Shaw's oil isn't just a gimmicky local ingredient for Brock but an important way to preserve a bit of Southern history.
"I hope to never cook a day without it," Brock says decisively. "The South needs to produce olive oil, plain and simple."
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