Olive oil tasting

oliveoiltasting

I know that on Monday I bemoaned that I hardly ever have time to socialize, but over the holidays I found lots of opportunities to open my doors to friends and family. One night I made dinner for my test kitchen colleagues. I kept the menu super simple: charcuterie platter, frisée salad, braised lamb shanks, creamy polenta and buttertarts. I knew the food would be tasty but not super memorable so I added an experiential element to the party: an olive oil tasting.

Each of the oils pictured above is from the Mandranova olive plantation; the fruit is picked from different olive cultivars at both different times of year and at various elevations. The result is a range of olive oils that, while similar, are quite distinct from one another, too.

The beauty of adding an activity like this to a party is that it doesn’t require a lot of advanced preparation and takes up only a few minutes of the event. Although tasting these oils wasn’t a wild, life changing experience, I think it was a great way to start the party since it moved us from small talk to sharing our insights about taste.

How do you like to get the party started? Do you think a glass of wine and a cheese platter within arm’s reach is enough to get your friends in the party spirit or do you have signature techniques for getting everyone into a social mood?

10 Responses to Olive oil tasting

  1. Natashya says:

    I guess I am a lazy hostess, I just have the wine and nibblies.
    Definitely could learn a few things from you!
    I love that you did an olive oil tasting – we will have to try that one day.

  2. Love the olive oil tasting idea. I’ve done wine tastings before, but this is a new twist.

    We usually get the party started with a drink — appetizers nearby. Since most of our friends know each other well there’s no need for ice breaking. And they always arrive in the mood to socialize. I guess I have it easy.

  3. danamccauley says:

    In our case, ice breaking wasn’t really the goal either. It’s just nice to break out of the normal chit chat mold and start to talk about stuff other than our families and what we watched on television the night before. Adding these little elements seems to take the conversation into new directions that can be really enjoyable.

  4. Elra says:

    To get the party started? MUSIC dear, and of course the drink too… As soon as I put music on, everybody start to move and some even dance. And then move on to our living room, there is always someone will play piano. This one British friend love to play rock and roll, so we keep on dancing.

    Beside wine testing, my husband love olive testing. In fact he is the one who introduce me for this activities. At first, I didn’t care much about it. Now, I really like it. Sadly, we haven’t gone as far as Italy. One day…

    Dana, that butter tart is calling me (never mind about watching my figure) it looks so delicious. I am really tempted to make it.
    Cheers,
    Elra

  5. Cheryl A says:

    Hubby and I were bemoaning the fact that we haven’t really entertained in ages -in the middle of renos.
    We never had a problem with getting the party started. And now the kids provide the entertainment. But if it was just a few over for dinner then the evenings always ended with Cranium. Best boardgame ever.

  6. Cheryl says:

    I don’t know if my friends would go for an olive oil tasting, but I’ve been dying to do a cheese tasting. I think that would be super fin, and I could put out little accompaniments like fig jam, ginger spread, membrillo (quince paste), fruit, nuts, etc. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do since taking a cheese class two years ago and I still haven’t done it.

  7. danamccauley says:

    Cheryl – can I come?

  8. megan says:

    I love the olive oil tasting for getting a party started. I’ve done several oil tastings. Some at winerys and one at the farmers market. It always get the conversation going with strangers at these places. Love it!

  9. Cakespy says:

    What an awesome idea!! I love this idea because it’s a little unexpected than say, a cheese tasting…and a fun challenge for the taste buds!

  10. danamccauley says:

    Why thank you Cakespy! I do like to be a little surprising.

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