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Extend an olive branch 

Is your olive oil top notch? Think your buttery bounty has what it takes to beat out the other branches on the block? The Central Coast Olive Oil Competition, hosted annually by the California Mid-State Fair and in partnership with the Lodi Grape Festival, is now accepting entries for all the good, golden stuff you can crank out. The 10th annual showdown will feature more than 100 olive oils produced all over California, so bring only your best bottles for drizzling and dunking. Olive oils are separated into four categories: extra virgin, flavored extra virgin, organic extra virgin, and flavored organic extra virgin olive oil. The categories are then separated into classes by variety. Take note: Your oil will be evaluated according to a long list of important attributes: aroma, taste, and intensity (ranging from delicate to grassy to robust to peppery). The judges have come from near and far and include Arden Kremer, Paul Vossen, Brigit Binns, Franco Dunn, Fran Gage, John Hadley, Lawrence Jacobs, Michael Laukert, Nancy Lilly, Julie Menge, and Sandy Sonnefelt (judges are qualified based on their experience in using olive oil in cooking, education, and production). Ready to compete? Sign up for early bird registration at a discounted rate through March 23. Award winners will be showcased during the 2018 California Mid-State Fair, July 18 through 29, and at the 2018 Lodi Grape Festival, from Sept. 13 through 16. Plus, bragging rights! Yes, it's your time to shine, oily few! After all, you already know that all bread baskets, most artisanal vinegars, and pretty much any salad dressing under the sun would be nothing without good olive oil. Life (and that linguine) would be pretty sad without it.

Visit for registration and information. Δ

Hayley Thomas Cain loves a peppery EVOO any day of the week. She can be reached at

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