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October 3, 2006 > Olives star in Mission festival

Olives star in Mission festival

by Todd Griffin

This year's Olive Festival will include cooking demonstrations, artisan crafts, wine tasting, live music, gardening demonstrations, and a children's area.  But as in past years, the olive is the star of the show. Several booths will feature olive oil tasting, including some Gold Medal winners.  Many are available in limited quantities, so arrive early to ensure you can purchase your favorites.

Cooking demonstrations throughout the day will also showcase the olive, creating unique and tasty dishes prepared using the little black fruit.  In addition, local shops and restaurants such as Trader Joe's and Mirchi Cafˇ will be on hand to offer various olive products and preparations.

The location for the festival is appropriate, spread beside olive trees descended from the original groves of Mission San Jose, directly adjacent to the mission, on the grounds of the Dominican Sisters.

Gael Stewart, co-chair of the Olive Festival, presented by the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce, agreed.  "It's charming. You couldn't ask for a nicer venue for an event.  When you come to a festival like this, you get a true sense of community - a sense of intimacy - where you actually run into people you know."

Indeed, the Olive Festival, now in its sixth year, is about as unlike the gigantic Fremont Festival of the Arts as it is possible to be. As Stewart put it, "It's different.  It's in stark contrast to the big, giant Festival of the Arts.  It's an event and a day where people love to get together, sit down, and relax, . . . just come and kick back for the afternoon, visit with friends, and have a good day."

She also emphasized a new feature this year, an area in which boutique wines may be tasted.  This is no coincidence, as it highlights the perception of high quality olive oil as a product that can and should be appreciated in much the same manner as wine, to be tasted, evaluated, and enjoyed as a gourmet treat by discerning consumers.

If you are a newcomer to olive oil tasting, the Olive Festival is a fun and stress-free way to give it a try.  If olive oil is not your cup of tea, come for the crafts, wine tasting, gardening tips, cooking demonstrations, music, and children's games, and relax in a pleasant and historic setting.

Stewart assures us that this small community feel is not likely to change much in the future.  "It will probably always be an intimate, premier event," she stated.  "That's what we want it to be."

Sixth Annual Olive Festival
Saturday, Oct. 7
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Behind Mission San Jose
Mission Blvd. & Washington Blvd.
Parking at Ohlone College Lot E

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