Well I hope all your stockings were stuffed with delightful things for Christmas! I have to say Santa was very, very nice to me.
Two items in particular relate to this blog - one directly and one indirectly, that I thought I'd mention here. Both came from my son, who obviously must have paid attention to my wish list!
Decanter Magazine - If I were going to subscribe to any wine publication, this would be the one. I admire Robert Parker but I really wouldn't put his reviews to good enough use to justify the subscription price. Wine Speculator - eh. And everything else is either too expensive or not interesting, but Decanter presents a great overall balance - at least for me.
Argan Oil - This isn't wine, it's some very limited production culinary oil but I found out about it from an e-mail I received from a wine vendor. The wine vendor was selling it from a different source than the one I received, but his flowery description was so tempting that it piqued my interest enough to put it on my wish list. You can read about it by clicking the Argan Oil link above (that's who produced the bottle I received). Also, I have taken the liberty to reprint the wine vendor's e-mail message below so you can see why I got interested in the first place:
One of the world’s most mysterious and therapeutic foodstuffs is at your fingertips – pure Argan oil – a delicacy all of you should experience.
Argan oil has been used for centuries in Europe and beyond as a mystical healer both externally and internally and you know what? They may be on to something.
Produced only in the far south of Morocco, the Argan tree dates back between 25 and 30 million years and is one of the oldest species of its kind to remain. It only grows where the desert soil (in this case the Sahara) mixes with the more traditional soil of Morocco on the very fringe of the Sahara – a very small line. This sub-soil is very thin and difficult to maintain and the desert has its eyes set on winning the battle by overlaying the critical rich topsoil with pure sand – an act that will cause the trees to perish. Each tree that dies basically cannot be replaced as the root structure required to produce fruit (the Argan nuts that produce oil) need to be extremely deep and aged (many of the trees are over 200 years old). For this reason, each Argan tree is now under watchful protection of the Moroccan government. Moroccan’s cannot imagine a life without Argan oil – it is that important.
Cultivated almost exclusively by the Berber woman, completely by hand with a traditional organic method, Argan oil is known to be not only one of the most therapeutic oils in existence but also one of the rarest and most expensive. To obtain one liter of oil, 20-50 kg of nuts need to be hand pressed – an extreme amount.
So why bother? Argan oil (with an appearance similar to olive oil) cosmetically is known to be one of the richest antioxidant moisturizers with some of the highest known levels of natural tocopherols (mostly Vitamin E) and also of saponins (which give the skin vibrant clarity) of any known substance. It is 2-3 times heavier in its concentration of tocopherols and of linoleic acid than the best olive oil – and that’s just as a skin moisturizer.
As a food oil, that’s where things get very interesting. With one of the most perfumed, soil-tinged fragrances and flavors of any oil, Argan oil is not only potentially medicinal from an antioxidant standpoint but it is also a culinary masterwork bringing out flavors you never knew existed in cheese, bread, meat, vegetables or fish. In Morocco, kings have ordered it combined with lemon and salt to form a potent marinade for grilling meat but it is best used after the cooking process is over, sprinkled on your chicken, lamb or even roasted vegetables fresh out of the oven. Argan oil is also used to top fresh baby greens or other to give you an exotic dressing that is second to none. Too precious to use as a cooking oil, its spirit is best appreciated in the natural, unadulterated state it was pressed into (similar to how you would use your best olive oil on vegetables or fresh fish).
We have one of the finest pure, organically pressed Argan oils to offer you from the south of Morocco. If you’ve never tried this incredible foodstuff, it is an ingredient that has become all the rage in the top restaurants in Europe and beyond making an appearance in some of the most celebrated kitchens in Paris and London - I cannot recommend it highly enough.
This glass bottle is approximately 7 oz (slightly more than .2 liters) and that is considered a fairly large bottle.
This oil is coming to Garagiste directly from the source with the least amount of travel and exposure as possible – it has the same impeccable provenance as our wine.
I'd never heard of this oil before but with a pitch like the one above, how could I not be interested? Now I have to think of wise ways to use this precious liquid - and also avoid accidentally knocking over the bottle!