Sunday, December 5, 2010

Product Review - Queen Creek Olive Mill

Queen Creek, AZ used to be a small county island in the middle of nowhere. There were a sprinkling of farms, horse properties and a backdrop of the San Tan Mountains, but not much else. We took a drive out there last week and much to my amazement it has become quite the metropolis. On the outskirts of town there sits the Queen Creek Olive Mill. The olive mill is owned and operated by the Rea family. The land was previously vacant when they purchased it. Today they have  They have been experimenting with different varieties of olive trees for over a decade.


We decided we'd pay the $5.00 per person and take the guided tour. It is a very small operation so my use of the word guided may not be an accurate description of the "tour". It was, however, very informative. A lovely young lady educated us about the history of the property and more importantly about the olives and olive oils produced there and elsewhere. She explained that the trees at the mill are still considered very young for olive production, so their yeilds are fairly small. They actually only produce the Extra Virgin Oil from their trees. The infused oils are sourced out of Italy. They have a big olive orchard to the north of the main building and they also have some trees planted in a small picnic grove pictured below.



The mill has a little deli counter. Most of the items are not vegan, but a few can be easily vegainzed. We didn't take the opportunity to eat on this visit, so I can't comment on the selections at this time, but I can tell you they use local breads and many other local ingredients, including herbs from their own organic herb garden.


The tour was short, but infomative and fun. After a 20 minute little talk outside in the lovely weather, we were lucky enough to be taken to the press room. They only harvest and press 2 1/2 months out of the year. We unknowingly picked the perfect time to visit. I'm not sure the tour would be worth it when they aren't pressing because there is not much to see. However, you do get a complementary olive tasting. It was really nice to be able to sample a few varieties before purchasing. During the presentation, we were told they have a specific percentage of each type of olive. We noticed that the mix in the press was a bit different than described. the green olives are very young, produce a peppery flavor and should comprise about 40 percent of the mixture. As you can see here, it appears there were more in this pressing.


The press room


The talk at the beginning of the tour is decidedly geared toward convincing you to go into the retail area and buy some of their product. Check this out. Have you ever expienced such a variety of olive oils in one place? There were a couple of rows just like this one. There is a tasting bar with a big variety of the oils they sell. The flavors are really interesting and the quality is excellent. I didn't buy any olive oil because I still have their vanilla and chile oils left over from a gift I recived last year. I need to whip the vanilla out for some holiday baking.

I did get some of their Vermouth Garlic Stuffed and Mexican Lime Jalapeno Stuffed olive. They are big and delicious on their own or in a martini. I also picked up some of their Spanish Fly dirty martini mix. It's a nice way to get your olive juice without having to strain it out of the can. Honestly, I 'm not that lazy, but I was amused by the label and couldn't resist owning the bottle.

They also sell many local products like baked goods, sauces, syrups and candies. I picked up a little bit of the organic Jalapeno pepper sauce. It was great on my buffalo wingz.


The retail area has a boutique type vibe and prices. The entire operation is very clean and the staff was very friendly. I'm looking forward to heading back out to check out some of the wine tastings and entertainment they offer. If you are in the area and want an atypical desert adventure I'd recommend stopping in. You're likely to drop some coin, but it is a novel and fun experience. We had a nice afternoon enjoying AZ weather in December.

As an added bonus we saw these very cute t-shirts that are perfect for our upcoming Martinis and Manicures fund raiser on December 16th! If you are in the area, come support the "girls"!


2 comments:

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

That tour sounds like fun. I'm amazed at all the different olive oils and how they vary.

Great shirt, too!

Veg-In-Training said...

It was really interesting. I will never eat any other than EVOO from now on. The others are pretty much just waste products of the cold pressed extra virgin and use a lot of chemicals in their production.