The Quail and Olive in Carmel Valley
The Quail and Olive, a California Olive Oil Experience, is located amongst stunning scenery in beautiful Carmel Valley. About a 20 minute drive from the heart of Carmel, you will be pleasantly surprised where this road will take you. The drive is worth the serene and scenic backdrop you will encounter on your way to tasting some of California’s freshest extra virgin olive oils and artisan vinegars.
Straight from the Doctor’s Heart
The Quail and Olive is a quaint little shop that invites you to enter it’s doors through a garden patio decorated with quail motif. Nestled in between other quaint little shops and restaurants in Carmel Valley Village, The Quail and Olive beckons you to step inside. Upon entering this delightful sight for your eyes, we are greeted by Deb, the store manager, who introduces us to the tasting room. We take in the shiny stainless fustis lined up on the shelves knowing very well that California’s liquid gold is inside. Deb continues to give us the history of the owner, Dr. Stephen Brabeck, a cardiologist, who knows the heart healthy benefits of extra virgin olive oil. Wanting to share and bring awareness to others about EVOO, Dr. Brabeck decided to open The Quail and Olive.
California Liquid Gold
We continue our tour through the tasting room that is pure eye candy for the health-conscious and organic-supporting foodie. Each fusti is labeled with the varietal of olive oil it contains with a brief description of the oil’s characteristics, however you are encouraged to try before you buy. Flavored and specialty oils stir our imaginations and I drift off thinking about fresh garden salsa drizzled with Habanero oil, pasta tossed with White Truffle oil, and potatoes roasted with Smoked oil.
Tasting cups sit aside waiting for you to pick them up and try the deliciousness that awaits you. As we pour a little in the cups, you can immediately smell the aroma of the oil. We are encouraged to sniff first, then taste to get the full sensory effect of the oil. One sniff of the Garlic flavored oil and we fell in love! Literally smelling like fresh garlic cloves, we are told that the producer of this oil uses fresh garlic from Gilroy (appropriately nicknamed Garlic Capital of the Nation) to press with the olives during milling, creating a fresh and pungent garlic flavor that tastes divine. As we continue to sip and savor the variety of oils, fully appreciating each drop, Deb tantalizes our tastebuds by suggesting ways to use the different oils to enhance cooking at home. Recipe cards are also scattered throughout the store for you to take and try for yourself.
Her excitement leads us into the next room that is lit up from the sunshine streaming in and reflecting off the chandelier made from olive oil bottles, dazzling us with glints of gold. She can hardly wait to share the balsamic vinegars that are bursting with flavors of Plum-Basil, Blackberry, and Champagne Mimosa – non-alcoholic, of course, yet yummy enough to drink! A mixologist by heart, she shares one of her favorite combinations – Habanero oil with Plum-Basil balsamic vinegar. The sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and the spicy heat of the Habanero oil beautifully balance each other, bringing a vibrant and playfully sweet heat to dance the Tango on your tongue. Ay Caliente! But, if you can’t take the heat yet still want a little kick, try the Jalapeño. Mmmmm. Muy Bueno!
Sitting amongst the local California vinegars is a specialty balsamic that shouldn’t be missed. This grand dame has grown gracefully with age and demands respect. The Quail and Olive has invited her to join the best of California all the way from Modena, Italy. The Italians know how to create this age-old condiment to perfection and The Quail and Olive has some to share. The traditional 25 year old Balsamic Vinegar is so thick and sweet, it can be compared to a syrup. As with all things that age, she moves a little slower than the younger generation, but she is worth the wait. Our anticipation builds as it slowly pours from the fusti into our tasting cups. A little taste of this delectable sweet treat will bring a smile to your face. We imagine it drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream and fresh strawberries. Can you?
Our California Olive Oil Experience
The Quail and Olive is filled with specialty items that catch our eyes. The shop is adorned with beautiful table linens, exotic spices, olive wood serving accessories, cookbooks, olive oil soaps and moisturizing lotions and potions. This little nugget of California gold is a must stop and shop. We left with a beautifully wrapped bag full of our favorites!
The Quail and Olive has hand selected their extra virgin olive oils and artisan organic vinegars sourced from California producers. They support local farmers which guarantees the origin and freshness of the products they stock. As a matter of fact, all of the extra virgin olive oils lined up on their shelves were from the most recent harvest. You can’t get any fresher than that! Not only does The Quail and Olive bottle their oil in dark green glass to protect it from light and keep it fresher longer, the bottle also has the best built-in pour spout we’ve come across yet! Are you ready for your California Olive Oil Experience? Visit The Quail and Olive. Your heart will thank you!
Photographs taken by The Grove and Co. at The Quail and Olive in Carmel Valley, CA.