Lara Ariss started a career in advertising but determined to follow her passion, she soon left to attend Le Cordon Bleu in London, where she also worked at upscale restaurants. She later spent some time taking writing courses in New York City.
In 2016, Lara published her first cookbook entitled Levantine Harvest - bringing new reverence to a comforting classic from the Levant region.
Lara owns a boutique pastry-catering kitchen in Beirut and is currently working on her second cookbook. She focuses on Mediterranean pastries, by bringing her signature love of medleys of flavor together with a keen appreciation for fresh seasonal produce.
Lara launched a line of extra virgin olive oil in collaboration with Mint Basil Market to celebrate her keen appreciation for fresh produce. She is inspired by her family’s farms in Sarafand and Khartoum in the South of Lebanon that they have been cultivating since the family moved back to Lebanon.
Among the first trees, they planted in Khartoum (located in the outer borders of the City of Saida in South Lebanon) in1995, were olive trees as they have a lifeline of hundreds of years. The village is elevated about 300 meters above sea level, an ideal elevation to plant olive trees as humidity is minimal and the altitude is not too night which could affect the ripening of the olive trees.
Olive trees are planted at an average age of two years old in the early winter, they are watered frequently and fertilized once per year in the winter. They start bearing fruits normally at the end of their second or third year.
The Olive fruits are normally harvested in the fall after the second or third rainfall. They are handpicked and placed in fruit baskets where they are aerated, washed and dried and then taken daily for extraction, using stone grinders so the oil doesn’t heat when extracted. The oil is then transferred to barrels to set for about 2 months and kept in gallons away from sunlight at room temperature.
No additives or preservatives are added to the olive oil, giving it its name extra virgin olive oil. After the two months resting phase, the olive oil taken for bottling and has a shelf life of about to years when stored away from sunlight.
It is that shared passion for everything that is healthy and natural that led me to collaborate with Mint Basil Market and distribute our Extra Virgin Olive Oil!