Dear The Kitchen,
Does anyone have any advice about olive oils? I feel like I just can't win. Last night I bought a small $12 bottle to use in a dressing for a salad and was extremely disappointed - it was very harsh and had a sharp spicy aftertaste. I never seem to find olive oils that are mild and good for dipping, like at a good Italian restaurant, and make tasty dressings. Any favorite olive oils that people can suggest?
When you use the words "harsh" and "spicy aftertaste" I immediately suspect you are talking about a bottle that was not "extra virgin" - which means it should have less than .8% acidity. However, if you paid $12 for a "small bottle" (what are we talking here, 10oz?) then I'm confused. If you can tell us more, like the brand, the grade (extra virgin, virgin, etc.) and where you bought it, that might help.
I'm also curious what went into your dressing - is it possible you over-did the acidic element (vinegar, lemon, etc.)?
Next time you're in one of your favorite good Italian restaurants, ask them what kind of oil they use, they're be more than happy to tell you (and you may be surprised by the response.)
As far as specific brands go, I use Spectrum's Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil for most of my oil needs. I'm sure other readers out there can recommend brands they use, however I'm guessing this also might be a matter of personal taste.