Sunday, October 31, 2010
Recently, we traveled up to Los Olivos near Santa Barbara to attend a wedding. It reminded me of the Sonoma Valley - rich, fertile hills full of grape vineyards, olive trees and huge oak trees. We took the last day to explore downtown Los Olivos with it's olive oil tasting bars - fig balsamic is my favorite - and peach and blueberry stands.
Somebody in town mentioned that we might like the lavender farm so we drove over to take a look at Clairmont Lavender Farm. We drove up to 5 acres of lavender in full bloom. I could not get out of the car fast enough and my husband had that resigned look he gets when he knows we are going to be here for a while and leave with a lot of stuff "for work".
There are chickens in the driveway, a small gift shop and off to the side the thing that interested me most - a working copper still for distilling lavender oil. They cut and dry the lavender, sift and distill it using a low temperature that yields a beautiful Grosso Lavender oil that is reminiscent of a French lavender but with a bit of a kick. The price for their lavender oil was very, very reasonable and a little goes a long way. I add it neat to the bath and only a few drops does the trick. A bag of loose lavender with 10 small bags to fill and use as sachets was about $10 (unheard of) and very potent. They have absolutely wonderful lavender soap, dog shampoo, bath salts, etc, and my favorite culinary find Sea Salt with Lavender. We tried a saute of spinach in olive oil, garlic and the sea salt with lavender.
Clairmont Farms has a newsletter you can subscribe to on their website - www.clairemontfarms.com . Definitely worth a look on the site or a visit if you are ever in the area.
Los Angeles, CA