Thursday, November 15, 2007

Field Trip for Grown Ups

My friend Penny is a good sport. She is pretty much willing to go along with me no matter where I seem to take her. One time we were going out to Florence because I wanted to check out the gift shop where inmates sell things they've made. We were well on our way in the middle of nowhere and Penny asks me, " Where are we going again and what are we doing?"

This Tuesday, we had both arranged a day off to go to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. It was something else that I had read about in the paper and wanted to check out. They make olive oil and have tours. Penny was amazed at how far it was to Queen Creek and was pretty sure we were lost before we got there. I wasn't exactly lost, I knew where I was I just wasn't sure where the Mill was. After calling twice for directions we found it, almost across the road from Schnepf farms.

At first we were a little stunned. I expected to see large olive trees all around and a lots of buildings. Instead, all we saw was this:

It didn't look very promising. The olive trees were small. But we had driven an hour to get there and so we were going to check it out.

Inside was a nice gift shop full of all kinds of olive products, tapenades, olives, flavored oils, olive oil soap, olive oil lotion, olive wood products. You can taste everything.

We bought a 5$ ticket for the next tour.

We gathered together on some picnic benches outside under some shade. The owner came out and told us all about the olive mill. Apparently the groves are to the north and not really visible from where we were. They grow about 8 different types of olives. It was really very interesting and we learned a lot. Did you know there really isn't anything like a black olive? What we eat as black olives have been changed that way through a chemical process to hide bruising. Ugh. Suddenly they seemed very unappetizing. It was quite interesting to learn all about olive oil and the different grades and the process to make it. Then he took us inside and showed us the machines. He let us taste some oil that they had just extracted. He had warned us that it would be bitter as they hadn't finished the process of getting the water out yet. It tasted terrible.

Afterwards we ate lunch from the little restaurant inside. This is what we had:

It was pretty good! And the other food we saw going by looked good too. There were busloads of folks from various retirement communities out there. It was a bustling place. I bought several different samples of their products, some as Christmas gifts. They are big participants in the locally grown movement. Their oils and olives are used by a lot of local chefs around town. They were selling some fresh breads too that came from the Willo Bakery. I found it rather amusing that I had driven an hour to this place and the Willo Bakery was about 10 minutes from my house. I have sampled some of the things I bought and it is delicious!

As we left, Penny and I discussed how we felt like we'd been on a field trip fro grown ups. It was lots of fun and I would recommend it to anyone! Be careful of all the old folks out there! The tours are on the hour between 10:30 and 2:30, closed on Mondays.
And here is the long suffering Penny!


Cynthia said...

For some reason, I'm not sure a tour of an olive mill would have drawn me to taking a day off work and traveling across the valley. But it sounds like it was a fun field trip. You always find interesting things to do.
Since I don't like crowds, now I have 2 things I have to be wary of. Don't go to Disneyland during the peak summer season. And don't go to an Olive Mill during the peak mid-day rush hour.

Bandanamom said...

You always know all these fabulous little ways to spend your time. That food looks really great!