Tag Archives: olive oil

“Sunday Gravy”

5 Mar


A bowl of Sunday Gravy

A bowl of Sunday Gravy

Occasionally in life you meet someone who truly changes your life. This happened to me in 1998 when I decided the time was right to buy a house. On the advice of a friend, I met with a realtor, Phyllis Harb, who took me on as a client. Two and a half dizzying weeks later I found myself in escrow on a beat up but amazing old fixer-upper that is probably the house in which I will die.

Finding the house and fixing it up is a story for another day.  And if that were my only interaction with Phyllis, I would be blessed because not only has the house changed my life, she is an amazing person who guides you through a very stressful time.  Thankfully that was not my only interaction with her.  Over the years she has become a dear and trusted friend.  Phyllis is one of the more thoughtful and generous persons I’ve ever met.

Phyllis herself has a wonderful home and once a year or so she will have a few ‘former clients’ over for cocktails and dinner.  Last year about ten of us showed up for her version of what East Coast Italians call ‘Sunday Gravy’, a meat laden tomato sauce Esquire described as “A sacred meal for a sacred day born in the kitchen of an Italian-American family.”

Phyllis's kitchen during the process

Phyllis’ kitchen during the process

As any follower of this blog knows, I love tomatoes and love me a great tomato sauce. I’ve already done posts on tomato sauce here and here and here. When Phyllis served us this deep rich sauce over pasta, however,  I knew I was going to do another post because when I took my first bite, I thought I was going to die. It was so @#%#$ good!! Once again, Phyllis changed my life. I told her that night she had to teach me how to make it and she readily agreed.

Just a few of the ingredients

Just a few of the ingredients


Two pots toward the end of the process.

This is an amazing sauce. It’s incredibly thick, marvelously so. Packed with meat, it has a rich, divine flavor. I served a batch on Oscar night and everyone at my house declared it the best red sauce they had ever eaten. It truly is that good.

For more great pictures and the incredible recipe, click here: Continue reading

That’s Not Olive Oil In Your Cabinet…

2 Nov

3 years ago I traveled to France with my great friend, the lovely Stacey Batzer, for a week long cooking class with Patricia Wells, about whom I’ve written here. The entire week remains a highlight of my cooking adventures, in part because of all the people we met in our group. One of the couples in the group, Raleigh and Burt Fohrman, have become two of my favorite people on the planet. I deeply love and respect these two. Not only are they pure pleasure to spend time with, they amaze and inspire me with their generous approach to both life and the people around them. They also have many amazing accomplishments. To coin a phrase, “I wanna be like them when I grow up.”

Raleigh and Burt Fohrman

Raleigh and Burt Fohrman

One thing they did on their ‘free time’ was start an olive oil farm, Riebli Point Ranch. And in recent years, their olive oil has won major awards. I am not being my normal hyperbolic self when noting I take sips of this stuff out of the bottle. It’s that good. I bought ten bottles this year to get me through until next Nov, when the oil is harvested and immediately sent out.

Last year, Burt emailed me about one of my posts (he’s a faithful reader, god bless him) and shocked me by explaining much of what is sold in stores as “Olive Oil” simply is not. I asked him to do a guest post because many of us use so much olive oil. This is important for people to know. And if anyone knows olive oil, Burt is the guy. So without further ado, here is his terrific and informative post.

(By the way, they had such a bumper crop this year, for the first time ever they can take new customers and orders. Burt’s email is at the end of the post if you are interested. Or go to the website by clicking here.)

Freshly harvested olives

Freshly harvested olives




Over the years we often wondered why some extra virgin olive oils were exceptional, some quite mediocre and others just awful. That was before we began our education and planted our own orchard.  Many of you probably had similar experiences because you thought you were tasting extra virgin olive oil but were actually consuming fake, adulterated or rancid oil.

To continue reading Burt’s great piece, click below

Continue reading

“Never, Ever, Ever….” Vol I

7 Apr

According to The Internet, which is never wrong, salad dressing probably kinda/sorta came into being about 2000 years ago when the lovely people of Babylonia began to use oil and vinegar to dress lettuce. I’m glad someone started the trend. See, I’m a rabbit: I not only love salad, I love just lettuce. All kinds of lettuce, every kind. I even love iceberg lettuce, such great texture, what a wonderful crunch. While I love eating all kinds of lettuce naked, I also love a good salad dressing. This leads to the first in a series subtly entitled “Never, ever, ever!”

Never, ever, ever buy salad dressing in a bottle. Ever.  

There’s only one reason to think you should buy salad dressing in a bottle, which is ease. Come on Tom, seriously. I don’t have all kinds of time. It’s so easy. I pick it up at the store, I crack open the bottle, I pour it on some lettuce, instant salad. 

Um, No.

With a little initial prep, almost the same amount of ease gives you a dressing that is much healthier than anything you can get in a bottle. So making it at home makes much more sense. Plus, it tastes infinitely better. Trust me, do this once and you won’t go back. You have to go to the store to buy the bottled dressing. Instead, while at the store, buy a few of products to have on hand for prep and you are ready, anytime, to make your own dressing. Eventually, you won’t even be able to use a bottled dressing as you’ll begin to taste the chemicals and processing. Making your own salad dressing, along with broth, an upcoming post, and tomato sauce, an upcoming post, are the easiest first steps to transforming your cooking, kitchen and eating habits. Plus, I’ll say it again, homemade dressing tastes so much better. You don’t have to love cooking or being in the kitchen to ease your way into your own dressing. And my homemade vinaigrette is, well, incredible. And versatile… it’s great on it’s own but you can also use it as the basis for a number of other dressings. It’s so easy. Here we go:

Click here for the how to!


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