Crave – food & drink

More and more olive oil boutiques are popping up in California—and that’s a tasty trend. We visited The Quail & Olive in Carmel Valley to sample an array of premium olive oils and vinegars. Tasting of the olive oils and vinegars is free, and the staff are extremely knowledgeable.

What’s unique about these olive oils is that they’re flavored during pressing; they’re not infused like many oils are. Fresh fruits or herbs are added into the crushing and run through the milling process with the olives. As a result, the taste is far superior.

Their California balsamic vinegars are made in the classic style, with no injected sugars or colors. These are great for salads, roasted veggies, marinades and reduction sauces.

Following are my favorites of the oils and vinegars I tried (and yes, I took home a bottle of each).

  • Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil – Robust, fruity & peppery, this rich olive oil mixes really well with the vinegars I bought. It makes salads much more tantalizing than regular oil/vinegar dressings do!
  • California Basil extra virgin olive oil – The flavorful basil makes this oil great for dipping bread, salads, sandwiches, pastas—anything you can think of.
  • Plum Basil Balsamic Vinegar – Fresh Santa Rosa Plums mix with opal basil and sweet Italian basil for a sweet, fruity, tangy flavor.
  • Tuscan Melody Balsamic Vinegar – Fresh oregano and blackberries combine for a delicious blend, and the oregano flavor really shines through.
  • Winter Ambrosia Balsamic Vinegar – This tastes like the winter holidays in a bottle. Handpicked apples and pears give it a sweet, fragrant, apple pie-like flavor. Note: This is a seasonal vinegar so get it while it lasts!
The Quail & Olive

The Quail & Olive

The Quail & Olive was opened by a board-certified cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Brabeck, who recognized that the chemical makeup of olive oil includes elements essential to preventing heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Located at 3 Pilot Road (just off Carmel Valley Road), the boutique is open Wednesday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (it’s closed Tuesdays). Visit and discover “A California Olive Oil Experience!”

The Quail & Olive recommends the following steps to maximize your tasting experience:

  • Hold the cup in your hand & gently swirl to warm the olive oil
  • Lift the cup to your nose & inhale the aroma
  • Sip & allow it to hit all your taste buds
  • Swallow & note the texture and taste

They also have a recipe blog at: