(Woodland, CA) How much difference does 150 years of old world handcrafting experience make in the taste of nut oils? From June 27-29th La Tourangelle invites Fancy Food Show attendees to find out at Booth 1352. A family-owned business, La Tourangelle of Woodland, California is now making oils with the same process, artisan's care and equipment that it has used for a century and a half in France. Despite European-pedigreed, palate-awakening quality, the company's Roasted Walnut, Roasted Hazelnut, Roasted Almond and Grapeseed oils come at California-style prices. Better still for gourmands who follow healthy diets, the Food & Drug Administration granted walnuts the first-ever qualified health claim. In recognizing the possible health benefits of walnuts, the claim gives producers the right to put a statement on packaging that links walnut consumption with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Roasted Walnut Oil is La Tourangelle's strongest seller, and like its other products, it is all-natural and processed to retain essential nutrients.
It has long been known that nut oils are very low in saturated fat but rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease. The FDA's qualified language indicates that "eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." The small serving of walnuts cited by the FDA more than fulfills the daily requirement of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Such official recognition instantly raises the profile and desirability of gourmet oils that retain the walnut's natural nutrients. Unlike many refined commercial nut oil producers who use heat or chemicals to extract the oil, La Tourangelle does not refine. Instead, the company uses an age-old process that retains the nutrients and the flavor of the nut, and bestows remarkable flavor on the extracted oil. The process requires painstaking selection of the finest nuts from the orchard, then patient sun-drying. The walnuts are then roasted in cast iron kettles from the original operation in France. According to La Tourangelle President, Matthieu Kohlmeyer, this roasting is the key to his oils' exceptional taste. "If you simply press a fresh walnut, the oil you get is bitter and lacking character. Walnut would not taste much different from almond. But when the nuts are sun-dried, then roasted just right, which requires these kettles that you can't buy any more and a great deal of know-how, the rich flavor is brought out in the nut. And the expeller pressed oil from that nut keeps the flavor and the foods you prepare with it enjoy that flavor, too. That's what you get from hand-crafting that you may not experience in other products."
La Tourangelle makes four hand-crafted gourmet oils: Roasted Walnut, Roasted Hazelnut, Roasted Almond and Grapeseed. The Roasted Walnut is made in California, and while the company is taking steps to move additional operations to the U.S., the Hazelnut and Almond are currently handcrafted in its French Artisan Oil Mill, and the Grapeseed in Italy. They are available in a wide range of food co-ops and gourmet food stores across the country, including Sur La Table, Whole Foods, Sutton Place Gourmet, and soon at Crate & Barrel.
La Tourangelle's elegant packaging was honored as a finalist among new products at Natural Expo East in 2003. The oils come in several versatile sizes, including a 500 ml metal container designed for natural supermarkets and specialty stores, and a 1L can. Another category, La Réserve Gourmande, is packaged in a 250mL glass bottle with a hang tag relating the history of La Tourangelle and recipes. Matthieu Kohlmeyer notes, "We reserve our richest and most flavorful oils for La Réserve Gourmande. Customers can be sure they are purchasing a product of genuine distinction." La Tourangelle products are also available in bulk or for private labeling.
Kohlmeyer is confident that attendees at Fancy Food Show 2004 will feel they are tasting something new and different in La Tourangelle's oils. Indeed, educating people about the uses of nut oils is one of the company's main goals. "Just dipping bread into our Roasted Walnut Oil instead of olive oil is enough to open your eyes, and they are all sublime in vinaigrette. But people should experience the pleasure of using very fine nut oils or grapeseed oil in other dishes: fish, risotto, fowl, pesto, pastries. I hope you will try carrot cake with walnut oil sometime. You will understand what we are trying to do and have been doing in France for a long time."
La Tourangelle was founded in the idyllic French town of Saumur before Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The traditional process employed at their new oil mill in Woodland, California upholds the company's artisan tradition. Even in Europe, it would be one of just a few mills keeping the traditional production methods alive.
In addition to stopping by Booth 1352, West Side level 3 (June 27-29), you can obtain more information about La Tourangelle at www.latourangelle.com. La Tourangelle may be reached at 1145 Harbour Way, South Richmond, California 94804-3695. Telephone: 510.970.9960 or 1.866.NUT.OILS. Contact the company via email at [email protected]. For samples and product information contact Christie Communications at (805) 565-4122.
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