Thursday, November 17, 2011

Georgia Peaches, Pecans and Olive Oil: Oh my!

Georgia Olive Oil

Georgia is known as the Peach State for valid reason. Those delicious fleshy orbs of rosy nectar are truly fit for kings. Give me a fresh Georgia peach pie and I need nothing more- I'll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

My next most favorite pie is pecan; I know- a dieter's worst nightmare.  But, the crunch of a roasted pecans suspended in congealed syrup brings sweetness to the lips and resplendent dreams of holidays past.  Can't resist that pie either.

However, Georgia olive oil?  Who ever heard of such a thing? I certainly hadn't until I attended a Southern Culinary Traditions press trip offered by Leigh Court at the lovely King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island.

I first learned about the fascinating history of olives in Georgia (and other colonial cities) from Dr. Mark Hanley of Georgia Olive Growers.  Did you know the first olive trees might have been planted in Charleston as far back as 1670?  The British settlers arriving in 1736 found olive groves near St. Simons Island lighthouse. And, Thomas Jefferson arranged a shipment of over 500 olive trees in 1791.

Dr. Mark Hanley

Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms in Lakeland, Georgia, then spoke about his 20-acre farm, planted with 600 trees per acre, a super high-density technique. This past September he recorded the monumental first commercial olive harvest east of the Mississippi since the late 1800′s. He claimed the groves are a work in progress, but the production seems to be off to a great start. 

For me, the highlight was tasting the golden green oil - extra virgin cold pressed Arbequina premium to be exact.  It coated my tongue with reckless abandon; the taste was clear, crisp and very buttery.

Tasting Georgia olive oil
The oil may not be on the market yet, but keep your eyes open.  Georgia is producing a serious bounty of home grown products, enough to make passionate locavores move to the state. 

Forget investing in the crude fields of Texas or Louisiana, why there's gold in the fields of Georgia.
Georgia Olive Groves

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Thanks to Georgia Olive Growers for the above photo.  Credit goes to Ralf Roletschek for the photo of the peaches and  Quinn Dombrowski for the pecan pie photo- both from Wikimedia Commons.   

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