Olive lovers' sacred sites
By Marcy Gordon
San Francisco Chronicle
A symbol of wealth, health, power and peace, the mighty olive is more than a tasty and nutritious ancient fruit; it's a cherished modern commodity, from trees, to fine cooking oils, to luxurious body products. Here are five places for olive lovers to experience olives inside and out.
Forget jumbo and colossal, this roadside attraction is super mammoth. Previously displayed in front of the Lindsay Olive packing plant, the world's largest concrete olive can now be viewed at the intersection of Highways 137 and 65 in front of the Super 8 Lindsay Olive Tree hotel between Fresno and Bakersfield. (Don't bother looking for the martini that goes with it.) 390 N. Highway 65, (559) 562-5188.
4. Dry Creek Olive
Co. tasting room, Healdsburg
Sample and evaluate olive oils pressed from the on-premise mill and learn the basics of tasting, from sipping to dipping, in a guided session. Get expert advice on what style of oil flavors - buttery, tangy or peppery - pair best with various meals. 4791 Dry Creek Road, (707) 431-7200, www.drycreekolivecompany.com.
2. Old Chatham Ranch Olive Brining Workshop, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino
Gather up the olives from your trees and learn how to cure them from award-winning olive oil producers at Old Chatham Ranch. Kit and George Lee began growing olives as a way to connect to their property that dates back to 1856. Now they share their passion and knowledge with others through seminars and workshops called the Elder Series. www.oldchathamranch.com/olives.html. Workshop details: (707) 895-2955, www.themadrones.com/workshops.aspx.
3. Garden Spa at MacArthur Place, Sonoma
The ancient Greeks used olive oil as part of their beauty regimen, and it's still a great way to hydrate and soften the skin. Revive your dull epidermis with an olive oil body polish treatment that will make your skin smooth - and possibly leave you craving pimento. 29 East MacArthur St., (707) 938-2929, www.macarthurplace.com.
If you like your olives best surrounded by vodka or gin, head to the bar aptly named Olive and partake of the humble orb in all its cocktail glory. Try the Ultimate Olive Martini with goat cheese-stuffed olives or the Spicy Dirty One with jalapeno-stuffed olives and the special house brine olive juice blend. 743 Larkin St. (415) 776-9814, www.olive-sf.com.