Category Archives: Random Thoughts



What is good oil? Good oil is fresh, new, well stored, bottled in dark bottles, and is extra virgin certified in California; passing both chemistry and taste panel certification.

What is bad oil? An oil that does not pass the certification standards of California. An oil that is rancid or made from bad olives. A bad oil has additives or is adulterated or has herbs that are years old but still says extra virgin on the label.

The more balanced and pungent the better the oil. Varieties of olives matter but the principles are the same, a balance of aroma, fruit, bitterness and pungency. Good oil is good for your heart and your soul.

Each grower has their own thoughts of how to grow olives. Each miller has their own ideas of how to make olive oil depending on their milling equipment and their experience.

We encourage all of our clients and guests to learn the process of how we make our oils. We like to explain the reasons we do what we do with each batch of olives. Each mill is different and unique; each variety of olive poses questions and issues of how to mill correctly. There are many important decisions, more malaxation, less malaxation, time and temperature. An important reality is that beautiful olives make beautiful oil. The fruit is a key factor. Bring us good olives and we can make good oil.

We are looking back at this last milling season and analyzing our milling data for each customer. Time temperature, variety, quality of the olives at the time of delivery. On delivery, we photograph each batch of olives. We document temperatures at arrival time, and they undergo a visual inspection with a rating scale. This data leads us to conclusions about our techniques of milling and events that influence our milling process. Examples are the power outages, time from harvest, ambient temperatures and variety. We try to associate how these variables reflect in the oils we produce. For our clients and for our own oils for IL Fiorello. There is much to consider. This is not a simple process.

The proof is in the oils, and the celebration of an ancient food. As we taste our own oils, we are making decisions about decanting, filtering (more on this in a later blog), and bottling and submission to competitions.

With the competitions ahead, we taste all of our oils; we review the oils chemistry and the results of the master taste panel. We taste again and then try to make good decisions about what oils to send to what competitions.

However, the real reason is to present to our guests the best oil available and prove, by winning competitions, that we compete well on an international scale.

Certify your oil to prove it is extra virgin, use the oil when it is fresh, store the oil properly.
Most importantly enjoy good oil with good food and good people.

I will be writing next about best-by-dates for food and olive oil and food as medicine and medicine as food.

Stay informed. (See examples below)


Temperature is  a critical  element in making good oil

Fresh olives on deck waiting to be milled on the day of their harvest.

Beautiful olives make beautiful oil

Bad olives make bad oil

Time and temperature are important in making good olive oil
This picture is the end of our milling season.—hence Final.
Temperature is for making co-milled olive oils at seasons end.




I have had many requests for some fantastic delicious and easy ways to preserve and present figs. 

We have 18 fig trees at IL Fiorello. Soon we will be known for figs as well as olives!! We grow a variety of types of figs, Panache, striped green and white, Kadota, creamy white, Mission, large and purple, and Violette, a French variety slightly purple, and Brown Turkey.

2 mission figs -one ripe & one unripe

Mission Figs

Panache figs

Another Panache fig

I always have to protect the figs from our chickens and from the blue jays. I also have a fox family who trains their kits to climb the tree and steal my figs.  Cute, but not so great when you want to grow and make fig everything.  As a concession, they get the bottom and I get the top of the trees.  This morning I found a lovely lady deer bedded down under the canopy of the fig tree. Everyone needs a home.

I have some great recipes for you.  The first recipe is for Francesca’s Figs published by Judy Witt Francini, Davina Cucina. The best Italian blog, web site and food tours.   You can find her at Many more great recipes and travel tips on her blog. If you go to Italy, make sure you take one of her cooking classes.


Begin with fresh figs right from the tree. The black figs are Mission and the light colored ones are Kadota. You can use just the mission, or just the kadota or a mixture.

2 kinds of ripe figs

 Then cover with an equal amount of sugar.

sugar on top of figs

Then a layer of very thinly sliced lemons.

sliced lemons on top of sugar and figs

 I happen to like a lot of lemons as it pairs better with the sugar and the figs.

figs & lemons in conserve jars


An alternative to poaching the figs is to dry them in the dehydrator. Dehydrate them whole or sliced.

You can then incorporate the dried figs on charcuterie boards, breads, and make great jams later on in the season. I like fig breads.


I love to make fig and lemon jam.

Equal weights of figs and thinly sliced lemons.

 NO sugar.

 Cook the lemons strips until translucent add the figs and heat to just boiling.

Remove from heat, put in hot jam jars seal, and water bath for 10 minutes.

My best and most favorite jam.

Serve this jam on the best vanilla ice cream or even better on our Olive Oil Gelato.

A clear winner.

fig and lemon jar in open jars


Wrap fresh figs in smoked bacon strips and grill.

Nothing better.

Sweet and savory.


Cut figs in half and cover with red wine (variety of your choice)

Sprinkle with organic sugar

Allow to steep overnight

Serve with Crème Chantilly or Vanilla Gelato

Make sure you drink the residual red wine.


Just simply cut the fresh figs in quarters.

Slather mascarpone cheese on flatbread.

Add a slice of prosciutto

Drizzle with our Fig and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction


figs prosciutto & mascarpone cheese on flatbread


When you have too many figs. Just freeze the figs whole.

When you want to use them, carefully slice with a serrated knife.

Use on pizza or desserts.

It takes but minutes to thaw.



The 2019 Central Coast Vinegar Competition

Announces Winners


The Central Coast Vinegar Competition (CCVC) is proud to announce the award-winning vinegars from its 6th-annual blind-tasting event, held June 20 at the California Mid-State Fair

Best in Show went to IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit – Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar. The honor came after judges awarded it a Double Gold Medal in the Flavored Class. 

Other Gold Medals:

IL Fiorello’s Blood Orange Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

 Bronze Medal:

IL Fiorello Red Wine Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

Packaging and Design Winners:

Gold: IL Fiorello’s Red Wine Vinegar

Bronze: IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit- Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar


Who would have known that our vinegar is that good!  Well the judges at the Central Coast Vinegar Competition sure thought so. Thank you for the honor. I am delighted that the judges enjoy our products. Thank you to the judges for acknowledging our products. Our olive oils did exceptionally well in the competition as well. Gold for Mandarin, Silver for Pendolino, Kaffir Lime and Lemon and Bronze for Bearss Lime.

I love making the Balsamic Vinegar Reductions the California way; our customers love the balance of sweetness and acidity.

As most of you know, balsamic vinegar can really only be made in Modena Italy, in the Reggio Emilia area of Italy. It is a protected product. Very special, very ancient, very very good.  This product has been around for over two millennia. The Romans and Greeks would drink vinegars to help in digestion. Today we enjoy the vinegars for great taste, and great pairing with foods.

When I was in Modena, Italy, I had the privilege of visiting two excellent balsamic vinegar producers, Acetaia La Noce, and Antica Acetaia Villa Bianca. Gracious hosts, wonderful food, and amazing tours with tastings of their Balsamic Vinegars. A long and gracious history of making this incredible product.  It is with this in mind, the respect for the heritage product, that we call ours Balsamic Vinegar Reductions.


Balsamic Vinegar is made of grape must and wine vinegar. Each producer can choose the ratio of ingredients, with a minimum percentage of grape must set at 20%, and at 10% for wine vinegar.

The first step of production is the harvest of Trebianno and Lambrusco grapes. The grape must cooks slowly and carefully, the amount of time is important and each producer is unique. The producer mixes the cooked must with the wine vinegar and transfers it into huge wooden oak barrels. The vinegar then matures for a minimum of 60 days and up to one year.  The process is the conversion of sugars to ethanol by Acetobacter, a yeast bacterium. The process continues with the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid by the acetic acid bacteria. The liquid remains at least 12 years in ageing barrels of different woods. Oak, Chestnut, Cherry, Ash, Juniper, and others that impart flavor and complexity. Each family process is a little different.

Check the label on the bottle of balsamic vinegar that you are buying from the local grocery store. If the ingredient label says red wine vinegar as the first ingredient then that is what it is, red wine vinegar, not balsamic. Often producers will add sugar syrup to make the red wine vinegar more appealing. Be a discriminating purchaser.

At IL Fiorello, we use a young balsamic from Italy, and then in true California tradition, we impart some magic. Each individual batch of balsamic reduction takes over a week to produce, very slowly, very carefully. Then it ages for another year before presenting to our customers. We even have a secret 5-year-old supply, which will be a special Grove Club offering in another 5 years.

Age the Balsamic and use the Extra Virgin Olive Oils immediately.


How DO you use this amazing product? Just a few drops will allow the contrast of sweet and savory to push your taste buds right over the top.

  1. Delicious on fresh fruit

Two drops on a watermelon slice

  1. Better on Grilled fruit

Three drops on a grilled apricot or peach

  1. On gelato – our Olive Oil Gelato in particular
  2. On savory foods -a steak just off the grill with Frantoio Olive Oil and our Signature Balsamic Reduction.
  3. In a spritzer with fresh fruit

I served friends Pt Reyes Blue Cheese with the Winter-Fruit, Orange-Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction last evening.  It was really beyond delicious, and we could not stop eating the cheese.


Years ago in Milan, just having arrived in Italy that morning, we were hungry and wanting real honest Italian food. Our hotel directed us right across the street and wandered into a restaurant called The Antique Pig. They presented an amazing Chef’s taste of perfectly toasted warm crostini, topped with a perfectly ripe slice of fresh pear, a perfectly cut slice of Parmesano Reggiano Cheese and three drops of 25 year old balsamic. I have never had a better taste of Italy. Perfect all around. What a welcome. You can try this at home just have the best ingredients and truly enjoying the experience.

This was a memorable way to begin a trip.

What a wonderful thought. Maybe tonight you should try this on the back deck and imagine you are in Italy.

Remember, you do not need much, a few drops to enhance your food.


Ciao,  Ann





A German style beer with grains and hops imported form Germany. It drinks like a pilsner, super crisp easy to drink. A really great summer beer.
Pairs well with hamburgers and hot dogs on the back porch, or in the front yard or on the veranda.
Try this with grilled chicken. Or right as you come in the front door from a long day on the Farm.


Even better……


We first had this in Scotland with great friends. Since we make oil (a different kind) what better beer to have at IL Fiorello. Thick dark chocolatey viscosity. Roasted malt and a creamy mouthfeel.
You just have to try this beer to appreciate how it pairs with BBQ and a cheese plate
My, oh my — so good.
Pic of the beer here



ROSE WINE in France they say AL LA PISCINE (Piscine is swimming pool in French). JUST THINK COOL ! Think ice cubes, think quaffing wine, think back porch, think cool Olive groves and lavender.
Delicious Think French and Fantastic!


Santa Barbara Highlands, 2018
Grape 100 % Grenache
13.1 % alcohol
Tasting notes:
No longer relegated to shadowy bottom shelves, this once maligned pink style of wine can be enjoyed by ladies who lunch and beefcakes alike. Expect nectarines, strawberries, fennel, and a touch of clove and star anise. The Grenache grape lends a generous mouthfeel, which is lifted considerably by a pleasant acidity. A versatile wine, it drinks well by itself or accompanied by a plate of salumi, semi-aged cheese, or citrus tinged ceviche.
Try the Charcuterie Plate at IL Fiorello with a large glass of the just absolutely fantastic, delicious, pink wine.


Folk Machine 2017
Grape 100% Chenin Blanc
12% alcohol
Vineyard: Merrit Island
Tasting notes:
Lots of mouth-watering acid along with characteristic citrus and mineral dry character.
Vegetable dishes or salads, fish or chicken entrees and rich pungent cheeses (Epoisse is my favorite)
I am going home tonight to make a great summer pasta salad with asparagus, grilled corn, jalapeno olive oil and lots of this great wine to wash it all down.

Care to join me?

Enjoy our cool wines and beers in the hot summer days.



Many things guide our way at IL Fiorello. The friendship and counsel of good people. The Suisun wind. The Seasons of the olives.

When we began this journey, Mark and I always talked about a compass rose that would guide our way.  We have always wanted a compass rose for IL Fiorello.  To chart our direction to understand the wind and sun in the Suisun Valley.  Mark used a compass when flying jet airplanes to always guide him to his destination, and to bring him home.

 First came a weather vane from Phil Glasshoff. Her name is Athena. She is the symbol of our cooking school, Kitchen in the Grove.  She points the way for us to follow in the footsteps of the ancients.  Athena the Goddess of Peace, War, and Olive Oil.  The city of Athens bears her name. History says that Athena is responsible for the olives at the Parthenon, and the city name of Athens.

After 15 years, our business has grown. We are expanding and growing, both literally and figuratively. When we had the opportunity to cover the back patio and make something lovely, a compass rose was first on the list to design.

Many visitors ask us about the stones and the design.  Of course,  the compass points to the directions of the compass, North, South, East, West and the points in between. 

The symbolism of the design is for our family. The waves for Katie, our Marine Ecologist. The roots for Elisabeth, our wine guru, and for our family with roots in California. The gold is for California, the Golden State. The green is for the Olive Trees that we have planted. The centering and direction for Mark and Ann, the guides for this business.

The history of the compass rose is interesting.  Initially thought to be derived in Italy, a great seafaring nation.  La Rosa dei Venti. The rose of the wind, as usually you describe the origin of the wind.


It is not known exactly where or when the formal magnetic compass originated. However, what little, unclear evidence has been found indicates the compass was refined in Italy circa 1200AD. Italy is known for its grand maritime achievements that made them a navigational superpower. It is believed Flavio Gioia first invented the refined compass, and a monument has been erected in Almafi Italy to honor his invention.

The magnetic compass was probably developed by combining the wind rose and the lodestone. From this device it is supposed the compass rose evolved. A wind rose was glued to the top of a lodestone and placed in a covered container of water. Later, oils were used instead of water to stabilize the compass disk from erratic movement. Then, it was found you could magnetize needles, and glue them to the bottom of the disk. These needles had to be re-magnetized periodically to maintain a sufficient level of magnetism.

Like the wind rose, the compass rose was coincidentally designed in a fashion that resembled the rose flower. It helped to orient a map in the proper reading direction and gave the relative directions for certain points on the chart.

Before compass roses were used on maps, lines were drawn from central points. These lines were hard to follow since there were usually many of these lines intersecting each other on one map. The rose design was typically drawn in a way that made it easier to follow the directional lines.

Having good maps that were easier to read and which were developed using the magnetic compass made it much more efficient to trade for goods in faraway lands, and over the open seas. Direct routes could be established, and navigation in bad weather enabled transportation to take place year round instead of only on fair weather days during the warmer seasons.

About the compass rose design
The four main points (cardinal directions) of the compass were derived from the wind rose: North, East, South, and West. This is also where the four half points originated (ordinal directions). Later, more points were developed to gain more precise bearings, until finally 32 points in total were used. Reciting all 32 points of the compass is called “boxing the compass”. Some believe the numbers of the points start at North; however, it actually starts at East. This is because in relation to Western Europe, Jerusalem was in the east and therefore East was considered the primary direction.

The Flour de Lys is primarily used to indicate north. It was typically made in a very elaborate style and prominently placed so it could easily be distinguished from the other directions during low lighting environments, and ensured maps were oriented correctly when being used.

Red, blue, black, and green were the most common colors used in the compass rose. For the times, these colors were the easiest to distinguish in low light situations when using oil lamps and candles.

Although modern compasses use the names of the eight principal directions (N, NE, E, SE, etc.), older compasses use the traditional Italianate wind names of Medieval origin (Tramontana, Greco, Levante, etc.)

4-point compass roses use only the four “basic winds” or “cardinal directions” (North, East, South, West), with angles of difference at 90°.

8-point compass roses use the eight principal winds—that is, the four cardinal directions (N, E, S, W) plus the four “intercardinal” or “ordinal directions” (NE, SE, SW, NW), at angles of difference of 45°.

Climate Change is Here

Following our growers meeting a few Saturdays ago, I had a discussion with friends about climate change and how it is affects our olive trees. As I am writing this blog, we are facing a fantastic olive bloom, and very heavy rain. As I cannot hold an umbrella over all of our 3000 trees, I am hoping that there is no hail with the heavy rain.

I drove home considering the pattern of olive set, the changing pattern of harvest dates, and how we have attempt to run an organic Farm in this a very active changing climate event.

I picked up my mail, chased away the deer eating my roses, and much to my interest, the current issue of MIT Review is dedicated to CLIMATE CHANGE.

In 2007, Jack Holden stated that we have basically three choices, mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. He was the Science Advisor to President Obama.

Holden says, “We may be too late.” I would encourage you to read the entire issue, MIT Review. Vol 122 No 3 May-June 2019, it is sobering. Gideon Lichfield, Editor in Chief begins his editorial, with Climate Change Affects Everyone. He means everyone, you, your children, your Uncle, your cousins your pets and wildlife. Your behavior affects each and every person.

When MIT magazine arrives, I always go to “The Back Page” of MIT Review because the magazine presents short interesting synopsis articles.

This issue, A Planetary Health Report Card by Rachel Cernansky, she states. “If we are going to cope with a changing climate and exploding global population, nearly everything about life needs to shift – including how people grow and eat food. That is the conclusion of the EAT- Lancet Commission, a group of scientists recommending a new approach for “planetary health.” We rated human progress to see how things are shaping up.

Healthy Diets from sustainable Food Systems by EAT – Lancet states that food will be the defining issue of the 21 Century. Anthropocene is a proposed new geological epoch that is characterized by humanity being the dominating force of change on the planet.

How does this affect us at IL Fiorello and all farmers in general? Let us discuss harvests, varieties, water, food and funding.

We have later harvests and suffer harvests that are more inconsistent. This means that we have more fluctuations in volume of the olive harvest.

Traditional olive varieties may not be the answer to this dilemma. It is very important to diversify in the Farm and to try to match the climate. We have planted Chemlali Olives from Tunisia that appear to be more tolerant to dry climates. They are doing very well for young trees. Time will tell.

Water. Be water wise. Use water well. Monitor your crop use. Do not just dig wells that succeeding in draining the aquifers.

We talk about food and the effect on people. B corporations focus on people, planet and profit. Slow Food is good clean and fair. The result is that we are finally bringing to the forefront the huge issues that man has created on Earth. Do not waste food.

We need to use public funding and industrial policies need to take on climate change, as governments are and have been unable to effect such a change.

Be wise, BE careful with your resources, and be aware that climate change is real.

Very real.


For your additional reading:
Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission
MIT Review. Vol 122 No 3 May-June 2019


A Professor of Food Marketing in Philadelphia, John Stanton PhD, says Food is Love Not Medicine. Why do packages promote cures and not deliciousness and emotion? We are all about deliciousness at IL Fiorello.  

“Taste is another leading reason to buy food. Another reason is that it makes me feel good about eating and serving food with and to family and friends.” Stanton is so correct.

Food and meal preparation are ways that most societies show love, respect and nurturing, especially among family members. He says “think of how we celebrate life’s great events, marriages are followed by a meal, deaths usually with a wake with lots of food. People who are dating usually go out to dinner. Religious ceremonies often involve meals. Proms have meals. Many people celebrate anniversaries with romantic meals together. Food and meals are an essential aspect of life.”

At IL Fiorello, we celebrate what we grow by serving great oils and tasty foods. We love to engage in conversations about our oils and what we grow on our Farm. We love to show guests our gardens, groves, and yes our “girls” our chickens.

This connects us together, it is enjoyment and love.

On Mother’s Day weekend we will be honoring Mothers with a tea. But what a tea; with cakes, and

A fantastic constructed cheese tower, and flowers and fun.  

Wear your fantastic hats and come out and enjoy the flowers.

A sweet gift for husbands to give their wives, for daughters to come with their Mom’s, for sons to enjoy a meal with their wives and Mom’s. Maybe Mothers to be. Or, Mom’s to give to daughters for a special love. I have two daughters and I wish they could be with me at this special and fun event. All are welcome. Last year we had a darling youngster who saved her babysitting money and brought her Mom to the celebration. Very special.

Dad’s weekend is special also. We have a great Grilling Cooking Class that is all about Dad’s and food. Saturday, June 15.

You do not need a reason to eat and enjoy together, but this is a good reason to relax and enjoy each other.

May 11 Saturday, from NOON to 3 pm.

Tickets on sale at IL Fiorello.


Warm, delicious, versatile, easy to make, plays well with most foods.  Comfort food on a rainy afternoon, or for breakfast, as you see fit.  Stop buying prepackaged bread, try this yourself.  It is fun, and happy, and delicious.  I love the aroma of the yeast rising.  When I was making this focaccia, my entire staff did not leave the kitchen until we served huge slices.  There is a very good side to working at IL Fiorello, Kitchen in the Grove.  What is the song…Food, glorious food.

Paired with a favorite topping, this is a very versatile bread.  With the instant rise yeast packets, I can walk in the house, make the dough, feed the cats, change my clothes, pour a glass of wine, and the dough will be ready to shape and bake.  It really is as easy as that.

If you do not eat all the focaccia (really?), you can save some for sandwiches the next day.  Just slice the focaccia in half, and layer delicious treats of cheese, meats, and vegetables.  Even kids love this for school lunches.



2 cups AP flour & 2 cups 00 flour (fine grind)

 Or 4 cups AP flour

2 packets instant rise yeast (make sure the date is fresh)

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

  • ½ cups water (warm) about 165 °

Additional extra virgin olive oil for the bowl and for the topping, about 1/3 cup in total

For the topping

                Sea salt or your best coarse salt

                Olive oil


A list of alternative toppings follow the recipe.


  1. Place flour in the bowl of a food processor or Cuisinart
  2. Add the yeast
  3. Add the salt
  4. Add the sugar
  5. Turn the machine on low and slowly add the warm water.
  6. Combine until all is well mixed and begins to form a ball.
  7. Remove from the bowl and knead the dough until it is silky and soft.
  8. Place in a bowl that is well oiled so the dough will not stick.
  9. Cover with a towel and place in a warm draft free spot.
  10. Allow to rise until doubled about 1 hour.
  11. Punch down and roll out to a sheet pan or cookie pan.
  12. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again about 30 minutes
  13. Using your knuckles punch down again, making depressions in the dough.
  14. Fill the little depressions with olive oil
  15. Sprinkle with sea salt
  16. Bake at 375 F ° for about 30 -40 minutes
  17. Serve warm from the oven with more olive oil.


During rising, place the bowl in the front seat of your warm car.  No drafts and a lovely way to make your car smell like fresh risen bread.

In very dry areas, like California, you may need to add extra water to make the dough resilient, and for the flour to come together.


  1. Sprinkle the warm bread with shaved chocolate and allow the chocolate to melt and become one with the oil.
  2. Sprinkle with fresh herbs
  3. Sauté mushrooms
  4. Sun dried tomatoes
  5. Grated parmesan
  6. Add cooked bacon bits to your dough before baking
  7. Add fresh rosemary to your dough before baking 2-3 teaspoons chopped.

Ann’s favorite

I love a fig and prosciutto topping.

Justin, our Sous Chef’s favorite

Add an apple and cinnamon topping to your bacon focaccia.

Finished with sea salt, more oil, and chocolate.  Decadent and delicious

MARCH 2019

In like a lion and out like a lamb, or this year in like a lamb and out like a lion. Either way, Lake Berryessa is full and we will have water for irrigation beginning in April. That is impressive given the last few years of drought.  Each year is different, and a lesson in farming is that each new year holds opportunities and challenges.  

March heralds Spring. Time change; Spring Forward. More light and lovely Spring evenings to enjoy; Spring greens from the garden.  Also, the Sievers’ Birthdays. LET’S CELEBRATE !

Irish cooking classes and Irish celebrations. Lots of fun and great eating in our Irish Cooking class. We had a little nip of the Irish favorite, Guinness after the class. And some Irish coffee before the class. Surprises all around.  Learning, eating, and enjoying is a great way to celebrate with friends.

In the olive grove, the trees are trying to begin to set their bloom.  This is the first harbinger of our olive crop for this year. We wish for a little rain, no hail and no strong winds. But in Suisun Valley the wind is always in our favor as our olives are wind pollinated and our main pollinator is the Pendolino Variety.

 We expect our bees to return next month to enjoy the blossoms, but they do not have a large role in pollination of the trees.  Bees are important on a bio-diverse farm, and they love our lavender.  We have honey for sale in our retail room.

In the gardens, all our spring onions, new lettuce, radishes and kale are already on our tasting plates at the Visitor Center. Tender and delicious, the Chefs love this bounty from the garden. Nick has started seeds for tomatoes, cucumbers, and the 100 other seeds that we have ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.

It is an explosion of flavors and colors from the garden.

The chickens are drying out after such a wet February. They are still producing lots of eggs, and we all look forward to our egg class in April: It’s All About Eggs. Poached, Fried, Soufflé, Frittatas…lots to discuss in the egg class. Lots of delicious foods to cook and eat together.

We will have green eggs and ham if I have any say in the menu.




Athena: The Greek goddess of oil, peace & war, also the daughter of Zeus.

Athens, the capitol of Greece is named after the Goddess Athena; she is the goddess of Wisdom and War. She is known for her strategic skill in warfare, is often portrayed as a companion of heroes, and is the patron goddess of heroic endeavor.  Athena was born from Zeus after he experienced an enormous headache, and she sprang fully-grown and in full armor from his forehead.

Athena serves as a guardian of Athens, where the Parthenon serves as her temple. The olive trees on the Acropolis remain a symbol of Athena’s work.

The owl was her bird, and the olive tree was hers to protect.  We have owls at IL Fiorello to watch over the farm.

Wielding wisk and ladle, pots and pans, hair blowing in the wind, our beautiful weathervane by Phil Glasshoff is also named Athena.  She is the symbol of our cooking school, the Kitchen in the Grove, and she points our way forward into the Suisun wind.

We named our award-winning oil, Athena’s Blend, to honor her history, a heroic endeavor.   This oil is a field blend of Frantoio, Leccino, and Pendolino. We harvest the olives by hand. We mill the oil with great care, and with strict temperature and time controls, to protect the flavor of the oil.  We store the oil in a dark temperature-controlled room, and cover it with an inert gas to prevent oxidation.  We do just-in-time bottling to ensure the freshness of each bottle. Athena’s Blend is one of our most highly awarded olive oils.

The flavor profile

                Frantoio – Bold and pungent

                Leccino – Luscious with a velvety texture

                Pendolino – Green and herbaceous

We enter olive oil competitions to benchmark our oils, to make sure that we are presenting the very best oils in the world to our guests.  We are named by the New York competition as one of the world’s best olive oils. The 2017 harvest of Athena’s Blend won the following medals in six competitions.  

Japan International competition – Gold

New York International competition – Gold

LA International Competition – Bronze

Yolo California competition – Bronze

Napa California Competition –Best of Show, Best of Class & Gold

State Fair California – Silver

Our 2018 harvest was devastatingly small, an 80% reduction in crop size; so, we did not harvest our Athena’s Blend.  Rather, we allowed the trees to rest and recuperate from the 2017 harvest and heavy pruning.  Next year will be better. Farming is interesting and humbling.

Please enjoy our Athena’s Blend; it is one of the best in the world.