Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sicily's Ravida is a Genuine Gregory Peck

Last week Crush+Press presented the regal and elegant Colonna, the Audrey Hepburn of extra virgin olive oils. To continue with our Roman Holiday, or in this case Southern Italian, we must have Gregory Peck. Without question, Sicily’s Ravidà Organic extra virgin olive oil wins the audition. Being a constant resident in my pantry for the past 10+ years, this olive oil/juice is suave, manly and always gives a stellar performance—Gregory Peck!

Once again, similar to Marina Colonna, we have the daughter of a noble Italian family, Natalia Ravidà, who urged her father to begin bottling his own extra virgin olive oil and exporting around the world. Nicolò Ravidà, like any adoring and appreciative father, listened and acted. He applied his engineering background and implemented modern production practices resulting in one of the truly finest and most consistent olive oil estates in the world. After his retirement, Nicolò handed the reins to Natalia, our co-guest of honor at the “ Celebrate the Taste of Southern Italy,” sponsored by Washington Wine and Wine and Crush+Press benefiting Dress for Success.

The accomplished Natalia once lived the life of a broadcast journalist based in London. Recently she published a marvelous cookbook, Seasons of Sicily, which is a celebration of generations of Sicilian culinary culture. Her eggplant rolls with béchamel sauce are pure yummy and was a major hit at my dinner parties last summer. She continues to travel the world promoting the fine attributes of premium extra virgin olive oil and Sicilian cuisine. She lives in Palermo with her husband, Giuseppe Spatafora, and son, Alfredo.

For those in the Washington, DC metro region, you have a fun opportunity to chat with Natalia and taste the Gregory Peck of extra virgin olive at an informal reception at Potenza restaurant on Thursday, June 24 from 7-9 p.m. Please register in advance at http://www.washingtonwomenandwine.com/pdf/wwwbrochure-potenza.pdf or email your RSVP to info@washingtonwomenandwine.com. Tickets are $65 in advance and $75 at the door.

Please join us in celebrating these two legendary women olive producers from Italy.

Photos: Promotion poster for "Roman Holiday" and the Ravidà villa in Menfi, Sicily.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Audrey Hepburn & Marina Colonna—Enchanting Spice

My recent tour of Marina Colonna’s estate in Molise gave me a mild version of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s frantic Vespa ride through the streets of Rome in the 1953 cinema classic Roman Holiday. Prior to my arrival, rain had turned the roads and fields on Principessa Marina Colonna’s farm into a nearly unnavigable sea of mud. This didn’t stop Marina. We hopped in her truck and began our tour, first stopping to bring mid-morning coffee to the workers pruning her olive trees. We continued by slipping, sliding and spinning up and down hills all across the farm. As we rolled along near one of her beautiful lakes at a decent speed, we plunged suddenly into a deep mud hole sending muddy water in every direction. After my head bounced off of the ceiling of the cab a couple of times, Marina glanced at me and quipped, “Everyone thinks this is scary, I think it’s normal.”

It wasn’t normal when Marina stormed onto the private label olive oil stage in the 1980s. Her father, Prince Francesco Colonna, had always sold his olive crop to the large industrial olive oil processing companies. Marina challenged him to “stop selling to those people” and bottle and brand his own olive oil. His response was, “No.” After further urging from Marina, he wavered finally telling her if she felt so strongly, “then you do it.” She did.

For her leading role in Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for her first role as a leading lady. Since making her plunge into the estate olive oil business, Principessa Marina Colonna has been winning her share of awards by producing outstanding premium Extra Virgin olive oils. Her extra virgin olive oils have won awards from such prestigious organizations as Slow Food. The Italian olive oil producers’ Consortium Unaprol has given Marina Colonna the “100% Italian Quality” award for “her efforts to promote the quality of real Italian extra virgin olive.”

Villa at the Colonna Estate in Molise

A couple of years ago, I began using celebrities to describe flavor profiles of premium extra virgin olive oils. For this hands-on farmer/principessa, there’s only one celebrity to describe the Colonna Classic Blend, Audrey Hepburn—elegant, regal with a gentle touch of enchanting spice.

You have a rare opportunity to meet the leading lady of the Colonna estate at the “Celebrate the Tastes of Southern Italy” on Thursday, June 24 from 7-9 pm at Potenza restaurant in Washington, DC. The event is sponsored by Washington, Women and Wine, Crush+Press and Dress for Success. For more information and registration:


Note—The use of celebrities is in no way intended to suggest these celebrities have endorsed these products, but is a simple way to give the consumer a glimpse of what can be expected from the juice in the bottle.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrate the Tastes of Southern Italy

On Thursday, June 24, 2010 from 7-9p, Crush+Press will join Washington Women & Wine and Dress for Success as we ”Celebrate the Tastes of Southern Italy” with two extraordinary women olive oil producers, Principessa Marina Colonna, Molise, Italy, www.marinacolonna.it and Natalia Ravidà, Menfi, Sicily, www.ravida.it. You’ll enjoy sampling exquisite southern Italian cuisine featuring olive oils from the Colonna and Ravidà Estates, paired with a selection of beautiful southern Italian wines. As part of the launch of the new Crush+Press ecommerce web site for REAL handcrafted extra virgin olive oil, I will be assisting Marina and Natalia with the informal demonstrations.

Our event will take place at Potenza, DC’s favorite new trattoria, bakery and wine store, named for a scenic town in southern Italy. This is an opportunity to learn more about Crush and Press, www.crushandpress.com, the programs of Dress for Success, www.dressforsuccess.org/washingtondc, and join Washington Women and Wine, if you are not a member. Advance registration is strongly recommended. The event fee is $65.00 for those registering by Tuesday, June 22,2010 and $75.00 at the door. Please register in advance at http://www.washingtonwomenandwine.com/pdf/wwwbrochure-potenza.pdf

Stayed tuned to this blog over the next few days as I post more about Marina and Natalia. (Photo--Natalia with her parents Ninny and Nicolò Ravidà)