Essential Oils

Con' Olio hosts Extra Virginity author Tom Mueller at exclusive Fonda San Miguel pairing dinner

Con' Olio hosts Extra Virginity author Tom Mueller at exclusive Fonda San Miguel pairing dinner

Who would believe that the worldwide exchange of extra-virgin olive oil has a history of scandal, deceit and corruption?

In his 2011 book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, Tom Mueller unlocks a surprising number of secrets behind the turbulent industry and offers a bigger picture on the lax regulations on "pure" foods that are highly prized throughout the world.

Turns out, the term "extra-virgin" is loaded with a rich history and rhetoric that lurks below its innocent-sounding moniker.

Ever since his groundbreaking 2007 exposè on the "slippery business" surrounding olive oil in The New Yorker, nonfiction writer Tom Mueller has established himself as the quintessential expert on the history and importance of this all-purpose miracle oil that has prompted so much hullabaloo.

This weekend, Mueller comes to Austin for a book signing event at both of the Austin Con' Olio locations followed by an exclusive dinner at the historical Fonda San Miguel. The specially prepared chef's menu will include foods that highlight the freshness of the world's finest EVOOs.

Jeff Conarko, the owner of Con' Olio, Austin's only locally owned olive oil and balsamic vinegar importer, retail store and tasting bar, is more passionate than most about the flavor and health benefits that come from only using the most premium EVOO in cooking. He's so passionate, in fact, that he has made it his life's mission to afford Austinites only the most quality of ingredients for their meals at home.

Likewise, Tom Gilliland, the owner of authentic Mexican award-winner Fonda San Miguel shares Conarko's passion for bold flavors and fresh ingredients.

Together, these gastronomic geniuses agreed to create a very special tasting event that would put the attention front and center on the world's best olive oils, to demonstrate their bold flavors and effects on various gourmet foods.

Styled after the highly specialized tasting events taking place in the world's cutting edge culinary hotspots, Conarko and Gilliland invite you to the first joint dinner of its kind in Austin: the Con' Olio/Fonda San Miguel Olive Oil Dinner.

As the night's special guest, Mueller will share a bit of the juiciest details from his research into the history and intrigue behind what the Greeks call "liquid gold."

Afterward, Conarko will have bottles of his signature oils and vinegars available tableside for sampling and will provide details of all of the night's food and oil pairings.

Included on the evening's mouth-watering menu: whitefish ceviche with Chilean EVOO, lobster ceviche with blood orange EVOO, summer fruit salad with Chemlali vinegarette, pescadero and Frantoio EVOO and, of course, churros fried in Australian Natural Butter olive oil. An indulgent meal clearly worthy of some scandal and intrigue.


Tom Mueller will be at the Arboretum Con' Olio location from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and at the Downtown location from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Seating for the Con' Olio/Fonda San Miguel Olive Oil Dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. and is limited to only seven event tables. Reservations are required and tickets are $85.00 per person.

Austin Photo Set: News_Layne_con olio_may 2012_bottles
A sampling of some of the signature oils at Con' Olio Courtesy of Con Olio
Austin photo: News_Extra Virginity_Book Cover
Tom Mueller's book, Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
Austin photo: News_Olive Oil Dinner_Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel Photo courtesy of Fonda San Miguel