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NRA Show: Smoked olive oil and soon, brown sugar


Smoked olive oil doesn't sound quite right and in fact, "tasted strange for a couple of years," admitted Brenda Chatelain.

Chatelain's husband, Al Hartman, developed the idea as so many inventors do: "It was 3 in the morning and I couldn't sleep," he said.

But after four years of tweaking, the Napa Valley couple says they've got it right. They have a patent pending on the process, which Chatelain says smokes the oil without exposure to heat, light or air. And they're at the annual National Restaurant Association Hotel-Motel Show (ending today at McCormick Place), sampling their three varieties of smoked olive oils -- which don't taste at all strange.

The oils, made in California, are ideal for finishing or marinating, rather than cooking. Their best-selling Sonoma variety is all satiny smooth on the tongue; Chatelain offered me a tiny hunk of bread dipped in the oil. I tasted it and immediately wanted a loaf of bread and a dipping bowl. The Napa has a brighter finish, good drizzled over pasta or vegetables, Chatelain suggested. And the Santa Fe has that bit of heat that tickles the back of your throat, thanks to chile de arbol.

The oils already have gotten a bump from celeb chef Tyler Florence, who uses them at his restaurants and has offered a testimonial, which Hartman and Chatelain are gladly using all over their promotional materials, and from Williams-Sonoma, which carries the original Sonoma variety nationally in its stores. A 200-millileter bottle costs $26 ($24 online).

The couple isn't done smoking. They have a smoked brown sugar that should be on the market in two months.



I've been a fan of this incredible oil for years. It's my go-to hostess gift, and is always appreciated. The brown sugar is an amazing and versatile ingredient that turns a simple carrot and turnip soup into a transcendent elixir. A must for any serious kitchen, and many frivolous ones as well!

Just came back from the St. Helena Farmers Market and bought the last 2 containers of smoked brown sugar. It has got to be THE food product of 2011. It smells fabulous and I can't wait to use it on some salmon and meats.

I saw the Smoked Olive Oil at the NRA Show and I thought it was fantastic. Just the right balance of the green olive oil and the smoke flavor. My other favorite products at the show were from The Gracious Gourmet. All-natural tapenades, pestos, chutneys and fruit spreads. ( Really sophisticated flavors on a small ingredient list. I wish more restaurants used these type of products!

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on May 24, 2011 11:20 AM.

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