DaVero, Healdsburg

by Heguiberto on January 20, 2011

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welcome to DaVero

welcome to DaVero

On our trip to Sonoma last week we stumbled into DaVero on our way back from a visit to Hop Kiln winery. One of the things that caught my attention was the beautiful set of trees in front of the building still showing their Fall foliage with hues of yellows, reds and rusty orange colors. I had to stop, if not to taste their olive oil, at least to take a shot of those trees!

DaVero has been doing organic and biodynamic farming since 1982. They produce not only olives, but also grapes, stone fruits, apples, pears and pomegranates. They also raise pigs and chickens. Everything is supposed to mirror a Tuscan lifestyle. The original grapevines and olive trees were brought here from that part of Italy. The olive oil comes from four kinds of olives that are blended in a specific ratio: Leccino, Frantoio, Maurino and Pendolino.

When we visited, they offered an olive oil tasting of three distinct blends.

The first one, labeled just “DaVero,” the clerk characterized as an olive oil for finishing dishes. You splash a bit on at the end just before serving. I assume that it was a blend of the oils from the four olive varieties, but she never said for certain. She did say that the olives for this oil were harvested back in November 2010. It had a beautiful greenish yellow color. It had a nice silky, grassy, green and slightly piquant flavor. I really enjoyed it. The bottle held about 400ml of olive oil and cost me the hefty amount of 32 bucks. But I was convinced by the organic, biodynamic and the whole Italian approach behind it, lol! The web site claims that it is the “premiere house oil” at Mario Batalli’s Babbo restaurant in New York.

gorgeous fall foliage at DaVero

gorgeous fall foliage at DaVero

The second oil was like the first but flavored with Meyer Lemon. Actually, they make a big point on the web site of saying that it is not “flavored” as they crush the olives together with the Meyer lemons. Well, however you want to put it, this is an olive oil that tastes like Meyer lemon. I like olive oil and I like Meyer lemon, but I detest mixed olive oils. Enough said.

DaVero olive oil

DaVero olive oil

The third was called “Thirty Weight Utility olive oil and Line Lube.” The name’s supposed to be a joke about restaurant cooking. It is a bit cheaper by volume than the DaVero and comes in a bigger bottle. This one is a mix of last year’s harvest that is blended with 30% of the latest harvest. It reminded me of some Greek olive oil I used to buy from the stores near our old pad in Astoria, New York. I wasn’t a huge fan but Steven liked it.

They told us at the shop that Mario Batalli loves their utility oil so much that they use it in all of his restaurants. Good for DaVero! Though I’m really not that impressed, as I’m no fan of Iron Chef Mario.

I used to like his show. You know the one where he traveled around Italy with that clueless side-kick? The two would go food shopping everywhere, get behind the scenes at local restaurants and always finish the show with some cooking, Italian wine consumption and chitchat about the good life on the Boot. We were enthralled, so much so that one time I made a reservation at Batalli’s restaurant, Babbo.

The reservation was made a month ahead for a special occasion. Our dinner was scheduled for 9:30pm on a weeknight, which was the best that they could offer for two on “such short notice.” We weren’t worried as the helpful website said that you could sit at the elegant bar for a drink while waiting.

We were hungry and a little excited by the Babbo experience, so we arrived a bit too early. The place was packed! Even the bar was full with people eating regular dinners. As a result, the rather brusque maitre d’ told us to go to the bar across the street for a drink while we waited. That’s annoying.

Well, we did and came back on time for the 9:30 reservation. But they wouldn’t seat us. They were too full. It was strange. We waited for about twenty more minutes. I couldn’t help but notice other parties of two waltzing through the doors, apparently unburdened by a reservation, and getting seated immediately. That was really annoying. Perhaps these lucky couples had connections? It was amazing. I inquired about it but was sort of rudely brushed off. We waited a bit longer before we gave up.

Babbo never honored our reservation and we never went back. That night, we ended up walking out about a quarter after ten, hungry and extremely angry. We went to a quaint Italian restaurant down the street for a perfectly satisfying and undoubtedly more affordable meal without a wait or any unpleasantness. This happened about ten years ago but still seems fresh in my mind like it was yesterday.

I almost didn’t buy the DaVero olive oil when they started talking about Babbo and Mario Batalli. Strange.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley January 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

That’s terrible about your experince at Babbo. How shabby. I’ve never been to one of Mr. Molto’s restaurants either. Can’t say they’d mkae my list if that’s how his staff behaves.

Heguiberto January 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Shelley,
On the positive side after giving up on Babbo I remember us walking around Washington Square just enjoying the beautiful evening on an unusually balmy Spring day. Going out to dinner is not just about the food but the experience right?
Heg

tasteofbeirut January 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I read on some other blog about a blogger who had an intense fan admiration for Battali and she bought his book and at the signature he was extremely rude to her. Needless to say, it turned her off from his books and other endeavors. Funny.
I personally always thought the man seemed a tad obnoxious. Not pretty to look at.
Glad you enjoyed your outing. $32 for a bottle of olive oil. Please do give the Lebanese ones a try. I buy one called Koura (Koura is a region in Lebanon in the North famous for its olive oil) and love it. I think it is $7 or $8 a bottle.

Stevie January 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

You are right, the olive oil is insanely expensive. I’ve seen lots of other bottles of the stuff all priced at that stratospheric level, too. I think that it is the next big cultish status symbol for the kitchen after Napa cabernet.

That’s interesting about Mario. He does seem a bit rough around the edges and he isn’t aging well. I wonder what the appeal really is?

OysterCulture January 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Have you tried Quivera in Sonoma yet? They a bio-dynamic wonderful vineyard. We really enjoy them. I dragged my husband to Jaccuzzi Wineries last week for a class on making olives, I think this is olive month or something in Sonoma – really enjoyed the show and samples. I’m inspired to do more.

Stevie January 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

OC

Yes, we’ve been to Quivera, several times, actually. We enjoy their wines quite a lot and their gardens are wonderful! We’ve tried Jaccuzzi, too. We just went to Michel Schlumberger recently. They’re quite near Quivera. They’re also totally organic and biodynamic.

Your olive making class sounds really fun! But it takes a long time to cure them, no? Did you bring olives home to finish curing or will you go back for a follow up visit? I’d love to take a class like that sometime!

Thanks for writing in!

Lyn February 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Interesting about your comments about Mario Batalli. I have always enjoyed his shows and have made some of his recipes that were very good. I am now living in Las Vegas and went to his restaurant on the Strip called Carne Vino to celebrate a birthday. My husband and I are always looking for a special place and very good food. We visited Mario’s restaurant before we made a reservation to scope out the menu and the prices. The entrees on the menu sounded fantastic and the price of them were very high. We felt that it would be worth the price because we expected his restaurant would be great. Unfortunately it was not. My husband ordered the bone in ribeye and I ordered the lamb pasta dish. My husbands beef was not tasty at all and the pasta on my small portion was overcooked. I was so disapointed because I was really hoping it was going to be great for that kind of money.

I got to this site because I was looking into DaVero olive oil. Just like you I heard Mario talk about it. Not sure I will buy it now, but I truly wish I could find a great finishing olive oil. Once when my husband and I had dinner in New York at a restaurant in Little Italy, the olive oil they served for dipping bread in was the best thing I have ever tasted. I wish now I would have bought some. They explained to us when I raved about it that they go to Italy every year and taste different olive oil and then have what they like ship to their restaurant.

Ridgely Evers February 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

As though I needed it, here’s proof of the power of the Internet. I was doing a random Google check to see where we came up, and discovered this delightful (and delightfully eclectic) blog. It made me hungry — and also reminded me of one of the favorite places we lived when we were still in SF.

My wife Colleen McGlynn and I own DaVero, so I wanted to say thanks for the write-up. As you may know, we had _just_ opened the tasting room, and were still figuring things out. If you find yourself back in the ‘hood please let me know and I’ll show you a bit more of what we’re about. Especially red wine (as Sophia Loren once said in response to the “red or white” question, “Dahling, wine is-a red.”), which is my other passion.

Best,

–Ridge

PS: Mario is a character, but I have to say that I’ve never had anything but outstanding food in his restaurants (for the record, we’re only the “house oil” at Babbo — we aren’t big enough to supply anything else). And — unlike many of the alleged “top chefs” — the guy is a terrific cook to boot. Give him another chance…

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