The day was dusty and blustery, actually cool. We passed a screened in garden filled with Five Color Silverbeat Swiss Chard, already two feet tall and rows of kale and flowers. We looked out on the expansive grassy area dotted with olive trees then ducked into the store to avoid the wind. The shop is charming with everything beautiful. Every item they sell has a lovely label. Each shelf meticulously designed and each product mouthwateringly tempting. A large café serves easy fare like paninis and appetizers. The smells of the coffee shop waft about the shop mingling with the aromas of wood fired pizza and olive oil.
Rows of fresh olive oil are available to sample, all made there on the property. They infuse balsamic vinegars there as well and they line the shelves with arrays of colors. Before we sample anything, we get in line for the tour. We pass a hedge of olive trees and an ancient stone mill.
Our tour guide has a staccato German accent and a charming demeanor. He tells us the health benefits and caloric content of olive oil and the many uses. He debunks the myth about olive oil’s smoke point (I knew it! Grandmas in Italy know it as well.) You can roast veggies, sauté, and do all of your cooking with olive oil without fear of it becoming a carcinogen. (With that I must add that deep frying anything in itself is a carcinogen!) I was pleased that I knew most all of what he told the crowd and I had to bite my lip to not answer questions and remind myself that I was not the tour guide! It was interesting hearing about the IOG and their rigorous standards for purity and taste. One must always purchase extra virgin olive oil, or second best, virgin olive oil. Anything beyond that is lamp oil.
As we munched on a cheese platter of pickled veggies and a Chardonnay Herbed Mascarpone and sipped wine, I reviewed the story of the founders. A family leaving Detroit with a dream to grow olives in Arizona, raising their children on land, building a company, and succeeding. Queen Creek Olive Mill is the only olive oil company in Arizona.
We sampled olive oil and filled a shopping basket. (We have hardly purchased any souvenirs at all on this trip, but we now have two big bags of food stuffs to take home now! Our souvenirs are always food orientated. We meandered through a great Indian grocery yesterday too, filling a basket as we perused rows of delicious and ridiculously low priced teas and spices.) We would have enjoyed walking the grounds but the weather was not cooperative, but if we go back we shall walk around the beer garden and converse with the trees and enjoy the fresh food and olive oil.
Queen Creek Olive Mill, 25062 S. Meridian Rd, Queen Creek, Arizona