Olive Oil, Branching Out

Olive oil is one of life’s few gimmes when it comes to food. Not many foods that feel like a complete indulgence are actually good for you, but olive oil is one of the few—enjoyed in moderation, of course. The combination of olive oil and garlic sautéed on a stove top smells and tastes heavenly, and who can resist fresh, warm, crusty bread submerged in a combination of cracked pepper, parmesan cheese and olive oil? And if its contribution to Italian and Mediterranean meals is not enough, the tasty oil also has many qualities that are good for the skin, making it a favorite of soap-makers and spa owners alike.

In the kitchen
       Originating from the olive, olive oil is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, personal care products and pharmaceuticals. Due to its high content of monounsaturated fat and polyphenols, it is considered a healthy oil that is cultivated mostly in the Mediterranean region. Greece is the world’s largest producer of extra-virgin olive oil, which isn’t refined, allowing it to retain its antioxidants.1,2 Commonly used in dips, dressings and as a cooking agent, olive oil can complement a variety of different flavors in vegetables and meats.
       At the Hilton Short Hills in Short Hills, New Jersey, Artichoke and White Bean Dip with olive oil-toasted crostini graces the spa cuisine menu, while The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Maryland, enhances its Green Tea Poached Salmon with a Citrus Olive Oil Vinaigrette. The organic Grilled Lemon Olive Oil Chicken Breast can be enjoyed as a choice from the spa cuisine menu at Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida; and, to add a kick to things, try dressing salads with Red Chile Vinaigrette from Executive Chef
Chad Luethje at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.

In the spa
       Along with its internal health benefits, olive oil is a preferred method for moisturizing and cleansing the skin. At Auberge Du Soleil in Napa Valley, California, the Olive View package features an olive leaf body exfoliation and lemon-tinged olive oil massage. The Ojai Olive Oil Body Soufflé can be experienced at The Oaks at Ojai in Ojai, California; and Murad Medical Spa in El Segundo, California, offers the Olive Oil Hydrating Wrap & Scalp Treatment to moisturize and soften skin with olive oil applied from head to toe. Featuring an olive oil-infused salt scrub and cream, New York’s Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa offers a sumptuous Olive Oil Pedicure; and Napa, California’s The Carneros Inn features the Orchard Olive Stone and Honeydew Exfoliation that mixes the inn’s own olive oil with warm, crushed olive stones. Also, a number of spas participate in the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival in December, January and February by offering olive oil-based treatments, including Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa’s Chardonnay Olive Oil Sugar Scrub; The Garden Spa at MacArthur Place’s Sonoma Olive Oil Body Polish; The Lodge at Sonoma’s Olive Oil Salt Scrub; and the Raindance Spa’s Olive Oil Body Ritual.
       The favored moisturizer traditionally is featured in skin care products as well, such as N.V. Perricone M.D. Cosmeceuticals’ Olive Oil Polyphenols Hydrating Nutrient Mask that moisturizes, nourishes and soothes. The Natural Olive Oil Cube from Spalasium washes away stress and provides anti-aging benefits, and Ancient Secrets’ Lavender and Olive Leaf Bath/Shower Cream helps with relaxation and stress. The Face and Body Bar Soap from Olivella cleanses, moisturizes and offers anti-aging benefits with the addition of olive oil as well.

Take it to heart
       Whether as a culinary accompaniment or being offered as part of a skin care treatment, olive oil is clearly one of nature’s gifts. Along with its great taste and incredible moisturizing benefits, this ingredient promotes good cholesterol and amazing meals. Take advantage of all olive oil has to offer in a variety of ways within your spa and you’ll have your clients saying “Grazie!” 

1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil
2. www.foodandwine.com/articles/olive-oil
(Accessed Nov 1, 2007)

Red Chile Vinaigrette
From Chad Luethje, Executive Chef for Red Mountain Spa, St. George, Utah

Makes 35 servings
1 1/2 jalapeno peppers
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon chopped shallot
1/2 cup cilantro
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup New Mexico Red Chile Puree or
Mae Ploy Sweet Chile Sauce
20 fluid ounces vegetable stock
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Thicken vegetable stock by bringing to a boil and slowly whisking in a slurry of cornstarch and cold water. Simmer the stock until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool.
2. Combine all ingredients except for olive oil.
3. Blend until all ingredients are completely incorporated.
4. Drizzle salad in olive oil.

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