Importer of olive oil feels the press of timeWhere do you...

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January 17, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,STAFF WRITER

Importer of olive oil feels the press of time

Where do you put a 6-ton, 200-year-old antique that's a gift from a valued relation? Well, if you're Pompeian Inc. and the present is a restored olive press from the parent company in Spain, you give it a place of honor in front of your newly expanded headquarters in East Baltimore.

The huge stone device was assembled from pieces found in several villages around Cordoba, where the parent company, Hispanoliva, has its headquarters. The press is a gift to "the people and the children of Maryland" as a reminder of the ancient tradition of olive oil (which has been continually produced in its current form for more than 3,000 years) and the importance of world trade. Pompeian, established in Baltimore in 1906, imports, bottles and distributes olive oil, olive oil products and red wine vinegar in the United States and around the world.

The press will be unveiled and dedicated at a private ceremony at 4 p.m. Tuesday; Pompeian welcomes school groups and other groups for tours of the facility, including the bottling line, storage tanks and quality-control lab. There's also a light snack and presentation of information about olive oil. To make a reservation for a group tour, call (410) 276-6900. You can see the olive press by driving past the company headquarters at 4201 Pulaski Highway.

When, after a hard day in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton sends down to the White House kitchen for a snack, what will he order? According to San Francisco newspaper columnist Herb Caen, he'll ask for Ro-Tel cheese dip and crackers.

Ro-Tel is a canned mix of tomatoes and green chilies long popular in the South and Southwest -- the company says, however, that Little Rock is its "hottest" market, a place where "Ro-Tel is something of a religion."

Ro-Tel cheese dip is also one of the all-time simple recipes. Chefs at the White House should have no trouble whipping it up whenever Mr. Clinton gets a craving.

Ro-Tel cheese dip

1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies

1 pound pasteurized processed cheese spread (Velveeta)

Cut cheese into cubes; place cheese and Ro-Tel in a covered casserole dish. Microwave on high power for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Stir before serving. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips or cut-up vegetables.

You probably don't think of vintages when you think of pears, but the Oregon Washington Pear Board wants you to know that the current crop is one of the best since 1983. An extra-hot summer contributed to extraordinarily large-sized and sweet-tasting fruit, the pear board says. Probably most pears are eaten out of hand, but they're also good baked or poached. This is the peak season for pears; here's a dessert recipe from the pear board.

Pears with spicy yam topping

Serves six.

4 Bosc pears

3 tablespoons of butter or margarine

1 16-ounce can cut yams, drained

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of salt

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pare, core and slice 1 pear; saute in 2 tablespoons butter or margarine for 10 minutes. Puree in food processor or blender with yams, orange peel, cinnamon and salt. Halve and core remaining three pears; place cut side up in baking dish either buttered or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon yam mixture into center of each pear half, or use pastry bag with large fluted tip to pipe yam mixture into pears. Dot each pear with 1/2 teaspoon of butter or margarine and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Bake 30 minutes, or until pears are tender.

Safeway is introducing a new line of branded products, called SELECT, it says are designed to address consumer demands for products that have natural ingredients, no preservatives and cost less than major national brands. The first group of products is a line of soft drinks -- colas in regular and diet and in caffeine- and sodium-free regular and diet versions, plus 17 other soda flavors -- introduced earlier this month nationwide.

Next month, the soft drinks will be joined by Very Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. Oakland, Calif.-based Safeway has three other "house" brands: Lucerne; TownHouse and Bel-Air.

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