Visit the Bridgeport Village tasting room for a delicious adventure

by: REVIEW PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - Lucero Olive Oil tasting bar has opened in Bridgeport Village. The shop sells olive oils, balsamic vinegar, olives, tapenade and mustard. It used to be we knew black olives and green olives. The black olives were special treats served at holiday meals; kids capped their fingers with them and ate them by the handful. The green ones got skewered with plastic swords and then plopped into martinis.

Yes, eventually Americans were introduced to Kalamata and other Greek olives. But olives are ancient fruits; why have we been so slow to come to appreciate them? Lucero California Olive Groves has given us the needed nudge.

For three generations, the Lucero family has been farming and producing olives in groves in Corning, California’s olive capital. According to the Lucero website, grandfather Anthony Lucero pressed small batches of olive oil in a handmill as holiday gifts for years, and grandfather Pete Johnston has grown table olives nearly his whole life. When their grandson Dewey Lucero was laid off from his high tech job, he sat down with the family; they decided to take a risk and begin producing the family’s extra virgin olive oil on a larger scale.

“My mom grew up with the Luceros, and Dewey came to us for financial backing to get the company started,” said Eric Mann, Lake Oswego native and manager of the Bridgeport Village Lucero Olive Oil store. Lucky for us, the connection was made.

Eric spent six months learning about olives and olive oils from Dewey, who was named chief executive officer of the business, and other family members before opening the Bridgeport Village tasting room before Thanksgiving, and the rest, as the website says, is history.

Grown in the olive groves are multiple varieties: sevillano, manzanillo, mission, frantoio, arbequina, koroneiki, ascolano and Kalamata. These are used to produce both monovarietal extra-virgin olive oils and blended olive oils, crushed and infused olive oils and tapenades. Lucero also markets luscious balsamic vinegars and uniquely flavored Little Thief mustards.

“My favorites are ascolano extra-virgin olive oil, fruity olive oil, which is great for dressings and finishing proteins,” Eric said. “Ascolano is the most awarded olive oil in North America. We are the most awarded olive oil company in the United States.”

He invites all to come into the shop and sample oils at the tasting bar.

“Be sure to taste the Meyer lemon and mandarin crushed extra virgin olive oils,” he said. “We actually crush the fruit with the olives in the olive oil making process, so we are going to be able to extract the natural oils out of the rind of the fruit. These both make amazing zesty extra-virgin olive oils. I would say that fish, chicken and salad dressings are the best applications. And you can’t go home without our traditional balsamic! It is very viscous and is great for dipping bread and making salad dressings.”

My favorites? I concur with Eric that the ascolano certified EVOO is heavenly. I loved the wild cherry balsamic vinegar and the tapenades and could probably eat a whole jar of any of the table olives in an evening.

I like the fact that you can purchase oils and vinegars in three sizes of containers and the prices are really reasonable.

Eric and his staff are extremely knowledgeable about olives and the processes used to create the products.

Book groups and others to encouraged to arrange private tastings with him.

The shop is located next to California Pizza Kitchen at Bridgeport Village. You will be glad Dewey took the risk to share his family’s treasures with the rest of the world.

The recipe today calls for Lucero’s chocolate olive oil — delicious and different. Enjoy it in baked goods or over ice cream.

Bon appetite! Eat something wonderful!

Chocolate Olive Oil

and Hazelnut Brownies

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 70 percent cocoa, chopped

1/3 cup Lucero chocolate olive oil

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a lightly floured piece of parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate on the stovetop or in the microwave and whisk in the oil. Let cool. Mix the flour and salt together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thickened and billowy, about 5 minutes. Fold in the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture, and then fold in the flour and nuts, stirring just until everything is combined. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 22 to 26 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

(Recipe from Lucero California Olive Oil, as adapted from “Adventures of an Italian food Lover” by Faith Heler Willinger)

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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