If you own a popular olive oil, vinegar, and assorted-cooking-products store like Global Gardens in Los Olivos, you’ll probably end up writing a lavishly illustrated cookbook someday. At least that’s how the store’s owner, Theo Stephan, puts it. “Honestly, so many people came into the store, and I took it for granted they knew what to do with olive oil and vinegar—I was raised Greek, so I knew,” said Stephan. “But so many people asked, ‘What recipes do you make?’ I thought maybe it was time to put something together.”
That something is Olive Oil and Vinegar for Life: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Caliterranean Living (Skyhorse Publishing). “If you have good ingredients,” she explained, “you can make a good, healthy meal faster than waiting at the fast food place.” Her book will help, as it not only offers fine recipes but also provides background on olive oil and vinegar and then explains the term she says she came up with in the shower: “Caliterranean,” where California and the Mediterranean meet in a lifestyle and an olive oil bottle.
Stephan is all about teaching, though, happy to do it from behind her tasting bar or in the new book. “You go to the grocery store and buy extra virgin olive oil, and you don’t know what varietal it is,” she said. “But you don’t just go to the store and buy wine — you buy by varietal.” Her cookbook helps make such decisions easier. “Part of doing the cookbook that was fascinating was pairing the varietals with recipes,” she said. “It was surprising to me that it was the spicy Manzanilla I’d want in that sweeter pecan pie, for instance.”
Those wanting a sense of the book’s recipes can attend a tasting and signing party at Global Gardens on October 29 and 30. In addition to the standard tasting, they’ll be serving up tasting portions of mushroom paradise pâté, roasted garlic soup, cowgirl blue caviar (made of garlic, avocados, corn, beans, cilantro, and more), Schezuan passion shrimp, and Greek walnut cake with pomegranate agrodolce. Yes, you can bake with olive oil and not butter, and one of Stephan’s tricks is to freeze it into cubes.
Plus, there will be dog treats from the book, for it was a full family project. Said Stephan, whose daughters also helped, “We had to involve the whole family.”
Catch the Caliterranean cuisine wave at Theo Stephan’s Olive Oil and Vinegar for Life cookbook tasting and signing party on Saturday, October 29, and Sunday, October 30, from noon-4 p.m. at Global Gardens (2477 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos,  693-1600, globalgardensonline.com). The event is $10, but free to book buyers and Global Garden’s club members.