Paso’s Love Affair with the Olive Continues!

The Downtown Main Street Association hosts one of the tastiest days you’ll have all summer, bringing together regional olive producers who specialize in high-quality, artisan olive oils and products.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. olive specialists will offer free olive-oil tasting, free olive-oil ice cream, tasting seminars, cooking demonstrations, and a head-to-head chef cook-off in an outdoor kitchen stadium. There’s no admission charge.

Olive producers will be joined by artists and crafters in a variety of mediums, and children will enjoy oodles of action in a section all their own. Local wineries and breweries will feature tastings and a commemorative wine glass for a $15 fee. Delicious olive-inspired food will be available for purchase in the Olive Festival Culinary Row.

Olive Festival artAn olive-inspired cooking contest is open to everyone, offering the chance to win recognition and awards in four different categories: olive tapenade, olive-inspired appetizer, olive-inspired main dish, and dessert with olives. Deliver your entry to the park bandstand by 9:30 a.m.  You’ll find entry forms, recipes, and lots of info on the festival website,

Olive-oil tasting, like wine tasting, has enough simple basics that the novice can enjoy the experience. Robust flavors happen in fresh-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, ranging from fruity, sweet, buttery, grassy, peppery, and even jalapeno. The taste differs among olive varieties, harvest times, and the influences of climate, production methods, storage procedures, and more.

When tasting an oil, you’ll be given a tiny plastic cup containing a small amount of oil. Gently warm it in your hand and smell it. It should smell fresh and fruity in an olive way.

Then sip a bit into your mouth and move it around to see how it feels clean. Suck in a little air to experience another level of fruitiness or pleasant bitterness. Finally, swallow and savor its buttery flavor, or the spicy sensation in your throat. If you cough, that’s a good thing, the hallmark of a very fresh peppery olive oil.


Chris Weygandt Alba left a magazine career in Southern California a dozen years ago for the greener pastures of her childhood home. She carved a new career profiling the many intriguing characters who make their home in northern San Luis Obispo County.