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Celebrate Olives Olé, a Festival in the Orchard

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Recipe: Grilled Veggie Pitas With Feta Cheese

Do olive trees grow in Texas?

At Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard near Elmendorf, around 11,000 olive trees of different varieties are proving that, yes, fruit-bearing olive trees not only can grow here, but more and more of them are being planted and successfully grown in many other climate-friendly areas of Texas.  In fact,  there are now 65 or more growers in the state.

Now, it’s time to celebrate this growing industry.

On March 27, Olives Olé, the International Olive Festival of Texas, springs to life at Sandy Oaks.  From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the festival presents tastings, including olive oils and the region’s largest olive tasting bar, and gourmet food concessions presenting everything from paella and grilled veggie pita sandwiches to olive oil cake.

Festivalgoers can attend cooking demonstrations, health and nutrition seminars offered throughout the day and tours of the ranch, plus shop for products made from olives or purchase olive trees.  Also, a new olive jewelry and fashion line will be launched at this year’s festival.

Recipe: Chicken, Chorizo and Mushroom Paella

“Last year’s event was a huge success,” says Saundra Winokur, owner of Sandy Oaks and one of the pioneer olive growers in the state.  “We expect this year to be even better.”

Winokur has a 258-acre ranch that sprawls across a gently rolling landscape off Mathis Road south of San Antonio. With 40 acres planted to olive trees, Winokur has been a strong supporter of an olive industry in Texas for more than a decade.  Last fall was a landmark harvest for her, as she had just installed a brand new Italian olive press.

Last year’s festival was the first Olives Olé, the annual fundraiser for Les Dames d’Escoffier San Antonio. The local group is affiliated with Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a service organization of women involved with the culinary arts. Funds raised at the event go toward scholarships and community outreach programs.

Olives Olé tickets cost $10 at the gate. Or, they may be purchased at the customer service centers at area H-E-B stores. There will be ample free parking. Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is at 25195 Mathis Road.

Photos by Tracey Maurer, Les Dames d’Escoffier

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