Oils, Jams, Tapenades: The Olives of Paso Robles

Producers of olive products galore gather at Downtown City Park.

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WHAT IS THE FLAVOR OF AN OLIVE? Call the small fruit one of the chameleons of the food world, an edible that comes bearing a flavor that can flow into a sweet drink -- think a blood orange olive oil shake -- or fill out a spicy, piquant tapenade with full-bodied presence. Not every foodstuff can pull this off, save perhaps several members of the nut family, and a few spices that can got dessert or appetizer, but the olive makes it look pretty easy. So that it gets a couple of California bashes thrown in its honor each year, much like the strawberry and avocado do, makes total sense: Olives and the things Golden Staters like to eat fold together as easily as a soft slice of pizza loaded with kalamata goodness. Wine countries are fine areas to find the olive in all of its plentiful forms -- because olives and wine made a dazzling duo -- and Paso Robles is at the lead, each August, with a daylong olive-themed shindig in its Downtown Park. The 2015 date is Saturday, Aug. 15, and there shall be many a purveyor purveying olive-y goodness. That olive-y goodness includes olive oil tastings, olive tastings, recipes being demo'd by chefs, and, you betcha, beer and wine tastings, too (which are not strictly olive-related, but, please, this is Paso, where the excellent adult beverages made in the area always make a cameo at big celebrations). Details on the whole oily yummy shebang? They're here.

AS FAR AS PAIRING YOUR TRIP... with some winery runs, that can be done. There's no mondo winery happening that's on that same August weekend, so you'll need to sit down and make your own itinerary. Hard stuff, given the dozens and dozens (and dozens) of vineyards available to visit, from Bon Niche Cellars to Law Estate Wines. Or hope on a tour and let someone local and in-the-know choose your stops. Knowing you have olives and wine ahead, on your summer schedule, is sure to make July extra juicy. And don't we ask for that from our summer? A dry or unflavorful warm-weather stretch is no fun, but one filled with food parties and winery visits is sublime.

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