Walk down any grocery store aisle in the United States and you will find a bounty of olive oils flavored with garlic, orange, lemon, chili pepper and rosemary. You may have one or two spending shelf time your pantry shelf right now. But you probably don't have smoked olive oil hanging out there — yet.
Smoked olive oil is the newest flavored oil to hit the market. It's produced by a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company called The Smoked Olive. The oil was featured on an episode of chef Emeril Lagasse's Discovery Channel show Emeril Green. The oil has also received rave reviews from local chef John Ash as well as Food Network chef and San Francisco Bay area resident Tyler Florence, who called it, "the sexiest new flavor I've tasted in years."
It's easy to understand why no one has tried to make it before. Olive oils are very sensitive to heat, light and oxidation. Al Hartman, the chef behind The Smoked Olive, developed a patent-pending technology to smoke the olive oil without damaging it. The last thing a chef wants to do is ruin a batch of top-shelf California extra virgin olive oil.
The Smoked Olive currently sells three different varieties of smoked olive oils, described this way on the company website:
If you are interested in trying some Smoked Olive Oil for yourself, they do ship in North America and internationally (including South Korea) as well.
- Sonoma Olive Oil, which starts off bold and smoky and finishes with a subtle olive finish
- Napa Olive Oil, which has a light smoke flavor that makes the olive oil flavor even more pronounced
- Santa Fe Olive Oil, which includes a dose of chili with the smoke. The chili sneaks upon you gradually but the chili does not overwhelm or overtake the olive and smoke flavor.
We discovered the company at the St. Helena's Farmers Market in St. Helena, Calif. while we were preparing some B-roll — background images — for our follow-up video interview with chef Hector Marroquin of Pupusa Griddle Catering as he served up his kimchi pupusa plates.
Production-wise, this was our first outdoor video session. The first on-location episode was "Innovations With Kimchi," recorded in The Green Grocer, which is now closed.
Recording outdoors presents all sorts of problems not faced indoors. Wind can rumble in microphones and tousle hair. Differences in lighting between a person in the shade and a sunny background can mess up camera light settings, leaving the person too dark on camera. Sunlight can also make potentially unsightly lens flares without a substantial lens hood. Ambient noise can be loud and distracting, sometimes imperceptibly so until the recording is reviewed in a quiet location.
We controlled the wind noise with a basic foam windscreen for the handheld microphone, and the windscreen also lessens — but doesn't prevent — popping in the microphones from spoken T's and P's. For really windy conditions, we have a special "hairy" foam windscreen for the lapel microphone.
For lighting, it's best to use a very bright camera light or a reflector to counteract harsh facial shadows from direct sunlight. The best solution is to diffuse the sunlight falling on the on-camera subject then reflect light back on the subject to fill in shadows. However, that requires several people.
We have just me on camera and Jeff behind the camera. To hold the reflector, he had to set frame the shot on the camera, start recording and then hold the reflector. The shot composition couldn't be adjusted until the end of the segment. The head-to-waist composition of this video did work for most of the shots, because the booth could be seen as actively attracting customers.
The reflector we use is a Lastolite collapsible one, with silver on one side and alternating stripes of silver and gold on the other. The manufacturer said that pure gold would make the image too yellow, and the wisdom of that design was evident on this video. Probably, we should have used the silver side to provide whiter light to blend with the rest of the image.
The background music came from Jamendo again. This time we used a song called Coming Home by Kendra Springer. At the time I discovered this song, Springer's album, Hope, was number one listened to album that week with over 18,000 downloads since it was posted on November 19, 2009.