When The Smoked Olive sent me some samples of their Sonoma smoked olive oil, I was both excited and dubious. On the one hand, it combined two of my favorite things: Olive oil and smoky flavor. On the other hand, was it just a gimmick? An odd combination of two things that didn't belong together?
Well, let me deal with any suspense here and now and say that any doubts I had have been excised; this stuff is amazingly good, and it's a new pantry favorite.
These olive oils are created by a small family company in Napa Valley. They use a cold-smoking process to smoke the oil and give it flavor without exposing it to light and heat. (Light and heat are the two chief enemies of olive oil; it would get rancid and lose flavor if exposed to the heat of traditional hot-smoking.) Somehow they get a deep, smoky flavor into the oil without adding bitterness. The oil still retains its buttery richess and golden color, but there's this woodfire quality to it as well.
Now, this isn't the oil to use in everything, of course. Drizzled over a simple green salad it tasted distinctly odd; it was too heavy and too smoky. But just a bit tossed with hot boiled new potatoes? Oh my! — it elevated them to a new level of deliciousness. This oil works best on hot foods, I think; the heat releases its smokiness. But I have used it on heartier raw greens, like kale, with good success. It would also be great as a dipping oil for bread or roasted vegetables.
It's not the cheapest oil in the world, but it's also not an oil to use in great quantities. I have been using small amounts over the last several months, and I still have 3/4 of the smaller 200ml bottle left. It should last some time, and it earns back its cost in flavor.
• Find it: Sonoma Smoked Olive Oil, $24 for 200 ml/6.75 oz bottle or $34 for 375ml/12.68oz bottle at The Smoked Olive.
It comes in several varieties. I only tried their signature flavor, Sonoma. The others have varying levels of smokiness. I was very happy with this one; when I purchase another bottle I'll stick with this variety.
Have you tried this smoked olive oil? What did you think?
Related: McEvoy's Olio Nuovo: An Olive Oil for the New Year
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Faith Durand)