Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Memphis and Ole Man River Enjoys a Taste of Tunisia

Our trip to Memphis begin predictably with its famous barbeque and a visit to Beale Street. A short walk from our hotel was Blues City Cafe, which served us their "Best Deal on Beale Street," half slab of ribs and fried catfish. Here's heaven in Tennessee. Of course, a tablespoon of EVOO before bed provided a much needed digestive aid.

We began our participation in the Memphis in May Salute to Tunisia with an early appearance on the CBS affiliate WREG, Channel 3,"Live at 9" daily show with veteran anchors Mary Beth Conley and Alex Coleman. On behalf of 100% Tunisian Olive Oil, Al Hamman and I gave viewers an olive oil tasting demonstration with Rivière d'Or Organic Extra Virgin olive oil. And what fun it was.

When a person swallows high quality olive oil for the first time, particularly on live TV, a fun visual is certain. I instructed our hosts to breath through their teeth as they swallowed the olive oil/juice. As she swallowed, Mary Beth quipped simultaneously, "Why? My response, "You're about to find out." At that moment, her eyes nearly popped out of her head as the peppery grip in the back of her throat erupted like a volcano. "WOW!" By the end of the segment, Mary Beth was coveting the amazing health benefits of EVOO by mimicking drinking straight from the bottle. This was fun TV. Thanks Mary Beth and Alex.

Next came our primary purpose for the trip to Memphis, the Tunisia Olive Oil Tasting at the Madison Hotel Rooftop from 5:30-7:30. Formerly a bank, the Madison rooftop offers one of the best views of the mighty Mississippi River, and its over stretched banks due to recent floods. With a blazing sunset, this was the perfect venue for over 60 guests tasting wines from the Mediterranean, Tunisian olive oil and feasting on Chef Chris Windsor's Tunisian- Southern fusion cuisine. The presentation of Marqiz (Tunisian lamb sausage), Briks (Tunisian tuna and egg stuffed turnovers), calamari and olive salad, falafel with harissa chili sauce, and lamb sliders looked so yummy as those trays cruised past our tasting table. They tell me the food was fantastic. Al and I wouldn't know. We were totally and happily engaged in continual olive tasting demos during the entire two hours (photo).

Offering an olive oil tasting can cause some raised eyebrows. A usual response is often, "Are you serious?" This was not the case with this group overlooking "Ole Man River." The fun, adventurous folks of Memphis heartily embraced the idea of tasting olive oil the professional way, straight, without bread. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and understand more about EVOO, and in particular Tunisian EVOO, was gratifying....and a rush. Also, Al and I were amazed at how many of the guests had actually visited Tunisian, and recently, too. This was a well traveled gathering.

For our brief travels, Al and I extend special thanks to Josh Spotts and Chef Windsor at the Madison Hotel, and our new friend, Randy Blevins of Memphis in May International Festival, Inc., who briefed and shepherded us through our visit.

And a river of thanks, to the good folks of Memphis!

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