Yesterday was my ideal winter's day. The air was calm and crisp, and the sky was dark with the clouds of a storm in the making. The conditions were perfect for picking every last olive off our tree before heading to McEvoy Ranch for their community milling day.
With somewhere between 10 and 20 lbs. of fruit, we packed the family into the car and drove up north to Petaluma for a new kind of adventure, as well as some quality time with good friends.
The ranch is tucked away off the main road and over the hill. One would easily miss it if unmarked. But once you turn down the driveway and wind your way around the property you begin making your way to a very enchanting spot. Up over the hill is 80 acres of orchards, pond and milling facility. It has more of a spa retreat feel to it than it does of a working ranch. Then again, this is the wine country. Secret spots of *splendor* are never hard to come by.
After checking in and being weighed, our olives were added to the community bin. All the olives in the bins were so small compared to ours, which were massive, glossy and juicy. I have no idea if any of these characteristics elevate our olives to a higher status then the others, but I've convinced myself that it does and that I'm most certainly responsible for it.
All four of these bins are filled with olives brought in for the community milling. This week, all the fruit will be pressed and divided proportionately amongst all those who contributed, and we will be able to pick up our share at weeks end. I was told that 70lbs. of olives produces approximately 1 gallon of oil. That said, I'm guessing I'll get back about 1-2 pints.
I had been so enthusiastic to just be able to contribute to this event in some way, no matter how small my bucket, and to have the kids be a part of it. So it was icing on the cake to discover that McEvoy just happened to be hosting an open house on the same day! We got to walk around the property, eat gourmet treats like onion soup, bruschetta, and olives, and even see the facility in full production. The kids were able to get up close to every step of the process while inhaling air thick with the smell of pressed olives. The whole experience was incredible.
**If you are a child, and you visit a farm, it is mandated that you run through the orchard.**
Back at our friend's house, we were treated to the most incredible made-from-scratch cupcakes. The kids were all given the makings to create their own. They were also treated to tiny teacups filled with gingerbread tea and milk with a touch of maple syrup. I couldn't make this stuff up. It was adorable.
I don't know what it is exactly but there is something about a child eating a cupcake - or a baby eating a cookie - that just crushes me and leaves me in a million pieces.