Monday, August 29, 2011
The Diva was quite honored and flattered all at the same time - to be on the cover of the Ventura County STAR newspaper - that lead to an article in the LIFE (lifestyle/food) portion of the paper.
Lisa McKinnon wrote all about the heritage avocados that grow here in our beautiful county - how the Diva got started, and how we can ship avocados right to you.
Friday, August 12, 2011
It was "Avocado Day" at the Ventura County Fair -- so... the Diva took one of her Mac Arthur avocados TO the fair. It had a good time.
Here are some of the things "Mac" did at the fair. If you'd like to see pictures - visit his photo album on the Diva's FaceBook page here.
1. Went on the "monkey maze" with the little kids. (Almost got thrown out by security-dude with no sense of humor nor idea of how blogs work).
2. Saw award winning avocados (tried not to be intimidated).
3. Looked at the cotton candy, decided against it when he saw the ingredient's list.
4. Skirted around Mike Nunez from Calavo - who was passing out free guacamole (shuddered at his close brush with fate).
5. Saw some varieties he had never seen before (Nabals!)
6. Learned of a new variety (Dickerson). (Diva must now find some).
7. Went on the "Zombie" tunnel of love - cuddled with his Diva. ;-)
8. Perused the award winning wines (made a wish list).
9. Checked out the "top 10 list" of crops for the County (avocados are #6!)
10. Looked at the 4-H pigs - and found one that started out as a piglet that the Diva's son helped "birth. (The Diva's son is in 4-H).
All in all - Mr. Arthur had a good time. He did not want to leave. So at the end of the day - we left Mac Arthur on the tire hub of a super-cool looking 1940's, restored, green truck - outside of the concert arena. He was last seen rocking out to the oldies.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Did you always wonder how they get those avocados from WAY, way up in the tree? Or when does the grower know it's time to pick? How does an avocado ripen?
Read on for some "secrets from the grove" - (cue music that sounds like "secrets from beyond the grave").
1. GREEN: Avocados do not ripen until picked. That's right, they stay hard as rocks and bright green until picked.
2. NOT TILL I TELL YA! The growers are TOLD by the USDA when they can start picking (Hass at least...it's called a release date). Often growers want to be "first to market" -- but if they jump the gun, there are super secret ways (involving chemicals and science) for the USDA to tell if they picked early -- and then they get punished (e.g. - can't sell their avocados).
3. 499 AVOS ON THE WALL, 499 AVOS! (SING IT CHILDREN). Non-Hass avos aren't usually regulated (no release date). Since all the other 499 varieties only make up 5% of the market - the growers have to keep track of those "ripening" periods themselves (usually in a very weather-beaten little notebook -- from my experience). The Diva has a spreadsheet - so she know which farm/ranch has what variety and when I can contact them to DEMAND (uh - I mean request...) the BEST and FIRST fruit for my monthly customers.
4. Cool Tools: See the nice, friendly guy with the yellow picking tool? (Photo). He is using a special cutter that reaches WAY, way up into the tree. The metal ring usually holds a little bag to catch the avocados. The tool has a super sharp, nasty little cutter I like to call "don't cut my fingers off PLEASE". The pickers use this tool for those high up, remote avocados. This guy (doesn't he look happy?!) had to take the bag off - because the avocados he was cutting for the Diva were WAY too big to fit into the normal bag. They just got caught by the ring. Then he would plop them down to me (or some youth-group kids -- this is a church orchard! Holy Guacamole!) and we would put them in a wheelbarrow.
5. Keep it Short: Most trees are kept pretty short (topped) so that the pickers don't have to climb ladders. Avocado trees are often planted on hills - because the root systems like good drainage - which a slope provides. And slopes make for danger on a ladder. Also -- by keeping the trees short and stubby - the tree puts it's energy into make fruit, not growing taller.
6. Bonus Secret: The pickers carry big bags (they would make a cool purse for a Diva!) and clippers to snip the fruit off and throw into the bag (often held on their back - over their shoulder, with a big canvas strap). Those bags can carry 50, 60, 70 lbs of avocados! They can strip a tree of 400 to 500 avocados in less than 30 minutes. (Pirana of the orchards!) You can only imagine how hard working and strong they must be to carry that much fruit and move that fast.
So now you know more than 99% of most people about avocado picking and orchards! Share your wealth -- and raise a chip filled with guac to those hard working growers and pickers.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This little beauty was made just for the Avocado Diva (the martini, not the man...). ;-)
We went out to a fancy - schmanzy dinner to celebrate birthdays AND the fact that a friend from England had come to visit. He really wanted to go out to dinner at Cafe Firenze (Top Chef Fabio's restaurant here in little 'old Moorpark).
So we went -- enjoyed the "Chef's Table" and a special menu. Imagine our delight and surprise when Executive Chef John Paolone (he is also the EC for Firenze Osteria in Hollywood) had the "mixologist" team make the Diva an avocado martini!
Here is the recipe they posted on their FaceBook page:
ORA FELICE … 1oz Mango Rum 1oz Mango Vodka 2 Basil leaves 3 Lime wedges 3/4 oz simple syrup 1/2 avocado 1 slice of orangeThis drink would make an excellent "palate cleanser" between courses. It was light, kind of creamy, full of exotic flavors of the tropics (mango, citrus, and of course, avocado). I can't wait to try it again!
Why not head on over to Cafe Firenze or Fabio Viviani's FaceBook page -- LIKE them -- and tell them the Avocado Diva sent ya?!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
We did a test this past week to see what works best to "speed up" avocado ripening.
[Please see this blog post for the exact details of how we did that.]
Bottom line: Yellow, ripe bananas worked the best. Next was the green bananas and then the apples.
All 3 of the avocados were ripe in the paper bag with the yellow bananas. The other 2 bags only had one of the 3 "sort-of ripe" after 5 days.
The one that DID ripen fastest was a Hass. The two others (a Pinkerton and a Lamb) were not ripened -- and are still in the bag. We will open them up tomorrow to see if they are ready. We hope so - we have a BIG tasting at a local community organization on Thursday night -- so -- we need those babies to be ripe!
In the mean time, we put the rest in with the yellow bananas and are keeping our fingers crossed.
Have you ever tried using the old "paper bag" trick? How about adding another fruit to ripen your avos quicker?! Let us know if you have special tricks.
Peace Out Friends!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
We finally got the video (well, really it is a snazzy slide show) done.
If you have always wanted to grow an avocado tree from a pit - this slide show will give you the info on how to do it.
Be aware, however, that it is pretty hard to actually grow FRUIT from a pit. That's explained in the slideshow.
Hope you enjoy this! The Diva
Monday, August 1, 2011
This is a short and sweet blog post. The Diva's cousin is getting married next month over Labor Day weekend. Her grandmother (my mom's identical twin sister) held a beautiful shower under her avocado trees. How amazing is that?
Hope your best parties are as sweet as this.
And yes, we had guacamole.
Best wishes, The Avocado Diva!