Cultivating Local Cuisine

We Olive offers culinary standards — with a twist
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Photo submitted

Ervin Galvan takes the science behind olives and wine seriously. 

Through his We Olive store in Pasadena, he learned to appreciate them.

“Since opening We Olive, I decided to get my wine and spirits education trust certification, and I am studying for my level three test,” says Galvan, who earned an undergraduate degree in ethnic studies from the University of California Riverside. 

“I have decided to take my wine knowledge as far as I can take it, and right now that means taking organic chemistry classes at PCC, studying for the WSET level three certification and the cicerone certification. Who knows what will come from the additional knowledge, but I’m hoping that it does translate to a better experience for our guests.”

Galvan has been providing that since the store opened as a retail-only pop-up in October 2015. The following February it closed so crews could begin work on the kitchen and wine bar. 

Just about exactly a year later, his We Olive franchise debuted filled with gourmet spreads, locally cultivated olive oils, vinaigrettes and creative takes on balsamics. 

“What first intrigued me about the franchise was the quality of the olive oils and the stories behind the products,” Galvan says. 

“All of the oils had stories behind them, and the knowledge the staff had about the products blew me away. I had never done an olive oil tasting before or been properly educated about all the wonderful benefits.”

For years, Galvan was a customer at the Paso Robles store before taking the “plunge” into his own shop. 

“I also fell in love with Paso Robles wines and caught the California win bug,” he says. “The business model of supporting local California producers also appealed to me because I think we are lucky to have the caliber of agriculture and artisans to stand up to the rest of the world.”

Artisan culture is highlighted at Galvan’s We Olive store most notably, he says, with the Hasi artisan bread from Studio City.

“It’s baked using traditional Austrian baking methods,” Galvan says. 

“The flour is freshly ground and incorporates purple pea flour and yellow turmeric flour. This gives the bread a unique purple and yellow pattern that is delicious and nutritious. I’m a Laker fan as well, so there is a bias toward the purple and gold. 

“Another one of my favorite products is Sweet Duet chocolate-covered fruits. The owner of the company is a Pasadena native and hand-makes every package we carry.”

We Olive’s signature items are the oils and balsamics, however. Sourced from small California farmers, the extra virgin oil is certified by the California Olive Oil Council. They rotate seasonally, but the Arbequina oil is a staple as most California olives are of that varietal. 

“For flavored olive oils, garlic is the one I use the most often,” Galvan explains. “We also have a traditional aged balsamic from Modena, Italy, that is sweet and acidic.”

Recently, We Olive added a wine bar with California artisan wines and food made from We Olive’s oils and vinegars. At the bar, Galvan serves Hasi artisan bread plate ($7); burrata bowl with burrata cheese, extra virgin olive oil, coconut curry nut crumbs, lemon zest and garlic olive oil baguette ($9); and veggie chopped salad with mixed greens, peppadews, kalamata olives, mozzarella, red bell pepper, peach balsamic pickled onions, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic dressing ($13). 

Shoppers can follow in Galvan’s footsteps with classes at We Olive. They can learn how to taste olive oil like the professionals, evaluate extra virginity, and pinpoint defects in olive oil. 

Complimentary olive oil sensory courses are set for 3 p.m. Thursdays. Classes must be booked in advance and are only open to those 21 and younger. 

We Olive & Wine Bar

32 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena


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