Among the variety of pantry and cooking staples that we’ve sourced and stocked over the recent months, landing a quality olive oil has been the most fulfilling — especially since we all cook with and drizzle it on nearly everything. Unfortunately, what’s on most shelves is not to quality standards and can end up being more harmful than beneficial in the long run.
In comes Aishwarya Iyer, the woman who founded Brightland, a line of extra virgin olive oils that are consciously crafted in the golden state of California. And speaking of golden, Brightland is truly the new gold standard — authentic olive oil that’s never rotten, over processed, or fraudulent. And absolutely no fillers or artificial preservatives. Currently, Brightland offers two distinct varieties : AWAKE has herbaceous, green, grassy, artichoke, and complex tasting notes. It’s been a popular one during the fall/winter seasons as it pairs nicely with homemade soups and stews, hearty pastas, warm bread, baked potatoes, roast chicken, roasted veggies, fried eggs and crispy potatoes. More comfort-like foods, if you will. ALIVE is such a nice pantry staple for the spring/summer months, as it has nutty, green tomato, green pear, and smooth tasting notes. Perfect to pair with fresh spinach and arugula salads, kale and greens, dressings and marinades, hummus, baked goods and drizzled on sorbet or chocolate.
We had a moment to get a bit of inspiration and proper extra virgin olive oil knowledge from Aishwarya, and are thrilled to share her story of Brightland with our community. We are in the process of developing a few seasonal recipes inspired by Brightland’s ALIVE olive oil to feature in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for some creative ways to enjoy these golden blends!
What is the inspiration and philosophy behind Brightland?
After learning that most of the olive oil that Americans consume is rotten/rancid/adulterated, I wanted to do something about it - I wasn’t sure what that looked like. After moving to California I wanted to champion American-made, beautiful extra virgin olive oil that is also elevated - and that’s where the journey began.
Olive oil is a foundation of wellness; a cornerstone of nourishment for thousands of years and a historic source of wellbeing and ceremony. Athena’s gift of the olive - useful for light, heat, food, medicine or perfume, was one of the most useful and beloved gifts of the gods. I truly believe in honoring the beauty of the land - the California sun and soil and respecting the nourishment it provides.
When it comes to sourcing and searching for quality olive oils, what should consumers be aware of? And, how does Brightland deliver on the promise of a truly exceptional olive oil?
The three most important things when looking for quality olive oils are:
Harvest Date, not a Best By Date
Polyphenols, if they’re available
What kind of bottle the oil is stored in — clear containers are a big no-no! Dark glass, tin or better yet, powder coated glass (like Brightland) is the best.
Brightland works with a farm partner that is a family run olive farm in the Central Coast of California, with a certified organic mill on-site. The olives are pressed within hours of being picked, so the oil is fresh and has a high polyphenol count.
How do you foster creativity both inside and outside of the kitchen?
I am inspired by nature, art, fashion and literature. I love to spend time in bookstores and as a classical indian dancer, I am constantly creatively inspired by dance.
What are a few of your absolute favorite ways to cook + create with ALIVE?
ALIVE has a bit of a buttery, nutty flavor that makes it perfect for baking - since I have a sweet tooth, I love making olive oil cake, olive oil brownies and just drizzling ALIVE on some dates for a healthier snack/dessert.
How do you visualize or describe your personal Boketto Moment?
My favorite Boketto Moments are with my dog. When I am walking him, or simply cuddling with him, I am focusing on nothing else but the present moment. It’s a form of meditation for me!