Olive oil is like coffee, tea, and chocolate in that it is one of the principal yet everyday luxuries of the kitchen. And there is olive oil, and then there is olive oil. We buy enormous cans of economical extra virgin olive oil for cooking, but we also love to have a bottle of really good stuff on hand for finishing dishes. Do you have a favorite finishing olive oil?
A few weeks ago Melissa Clark had a recipe in her New York Times column that we knew we had to try: Homemade granola with pistachios, sunflower seeds, apricots — and a dose of silky, fragrant, slightly bitter olive oil. Zounds! we said, and clipped the recipe. Well, we're back to report on it, and watch out! This stuff should come with a warning label.
Over the last week, my husband and I have started the (seemingly) never ending process of moving. We knew we'd need some bare essentials to tide us over for a short while and determined not to eat out, or have anything delivered, we packed a box, made a few lists and acquired a plan. So far, we're on day 8 of eating (well) at home, while also working day jobs and packing and running loads of our belongings to the new place (movers just aren't our style). All it took was 24 hours of prep time...
We've heard (and discussed) boxed wine, but what about boxed olive oil? Jeremy Meltzer of Yellingbo Olive Oil Company was on Good Food this past week to tell us why he thinks boxed olive oil will be the next big thing to hit his industry...
"There are three enemies of olive oil," says Nadim Beyrouti, proprietor and hospitable host of Oliviera in Nice, France. "Light, heat," he pauses. "And hungry friends."
This is just one of the many things we learned about olive oil from Nadim, a passionate advocate of good, local oil. He owns a tiny restaurant and shop in Nice's old quarter. His two-person staff cooks every meal in an open kitchen with one gas burner and a broiler in a kitchen half the size of my own. And while these meals are invariably transporting and delicious, the real star at Oliviera is the olive oil.
"At times it sees that the search for good health has taken all the pleasure out of life. It has stripped us of butter, cream, marbled red meat, pork, and goose fat, not to mention alcohol and fine, hand-rolled cigars. And just when you settle on your favorite healthful fish, you're told it's laced with mercury. Sometimes it feels as though we would be better off being less healthy and enjoying life.
But then, miraculously, there is olive oil. Olive oil, it seems, is the only really good food we are still allowed."
- Mark Kurlansky from "Essential Oil," Bon Appétit, November 2008
We recently attended an olive oil workshop and learned some things about olive oil labeling, which we wrote about in last week's post, Understanding Olive Oil Labels. This week, we thought we'd share what we learned about olive oil tasting.