Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get a Taste of Tuscany with Olive Bread

Olive Bread Memories Linger in My Mind

"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven..."

--Thomas Jefferson

Tonight at home I'm sitting by the fire with my three four-leggers snoozing around me. Savoring the last of the day at Lake Tahoe. A good swim and good hot tub amid gray skies, straggling tourists, and one delightful local, a swimmer, made the day a good one. Getting ready to go back to work and complete copy edits on my forthcoming chocolate book. (New gourmet truffles from Ireland, literally, arrived yesterday; each one will give me an endorphin-fix like swimming does.)

But I find myself constantly fantasizing about the San Francisco Bay Area, my real home where I grew up, went to college at SFSU, and lived life to the fullest. The City has a very special place in my heart. If I close my eyes, I can feel the cool wind and fog, smell the fresh crab on Fisherman's Wharf and sweet scent of salt water taffy. In my living room I have Michael Leu paintings surrounding me, a memory of San Francisco. It's a place where gourmet chocolatiers create works of art and serious chocolate lovers live. I miss the people. I miss the hustle bustle and culture of the city. I miss the restaurants. And above my bed, there is a lone painting of Sunflowers by Vincent van give me a taste of Tuscany. In my room, it's surrounded by more of Leu's works of San Francisco, specific spots that have won my spirit and soul...

Olive Oil Tour Diary

Enter Frantoio's Restaurant in Mill Valley, California... I am whisked off to my own booth with a full view of the oakwood-fired oven. To the left of me, I also get to view Frantoio's state-of-the-art olive press--behind a gigantic piece of glass at the back of the busy restaurant. It has huge granite wheels, used to grind the olives to paste. This particular night, the press is down. Still, I get a tour (and you can get a virtual one at and ) and am impressed that the restaurant makes its own extra virgin olive oil on-site. Plus, later I discover, Frantoio also provides custom presses for more than two dozen clients. It's unique, and so is the house-made extra virgin olive oil used in all of its dishes.

The menu boasts seasonal Tuscan delights using local produce and cheeses As a vegan, I select the margherita brick-oven pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. As I sip chamomile tea, I dip homemade bread (with olives) into the freshly made olive oil. (Yes, for me this is an adventure.)

Note: On page 213-214 I include an Olive Bread recipe in my book The Healing Powers of Olive Oil--so you can enjoy a taste of Italy, too, right at home.

(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil (Kensington, 2009)


  1. Hello Readers and Potential Posters,
    Check out the new TV Food videos--gourmet stuff--on the left column. And, note the food item finder; it's super for discovering what's in what you're eating.

  2. Did the olive bread taste good?

  3. It was different. I like olives--all kinds. It was the first time for me to try olives in bread. I'm sure it's an acquired taste. Yes, I would try it again. And I should bake it myself because there is nothing better than homebaked bread right out of the oven, right?