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? Like truly excellent coffee, a really good olive oil appears to be very expensive, especially when compared with the $7 liters at the grocery store. Why pay so much more for this stuff? Isn't it overpriced? Well, first of all, if you break down that heavy cost into dozens and dozens of meals, it comes out to just pennies per use.
As for whether it's worth it, a good finishing olive oil is meant to be drizzled over a final dish, or tossed with greens in a salad. A good olive oil will have fruity, grassy, bitter, or even banana notes that come out when paired with dishes. It's an affordable luxury when you consider that one good bottle can last for months. This stuff shouldn't be slopped into a pan or used in cooking; it's full of flavors for finished dishes only. One of our favorite restaurants in the whole world is Oliviera in Nice, France, where the owner pairs every dish with a different olive oil. They all taste different, and so rich and complex.
We have gone through many bottles, now, of finishing olive oils, but we're curious if you have some favorites. We hoarded and scrimped through our Oliviera bottles in particular but they are definitely gone now and we'd love some ideas on what to try next. Here are two other favorites from the past (also pictured above).
• 2008 Marqués de Valdueza Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $29.50 at Market Hall Foods
• 2008 Frescobaldi Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $36 at Market Hall Foods
Do you have a favorite finishing oil? What are your favorite flavors to taste in olive oil?
Related: Home Cooking: Laurie Colwin on Luxury and Frugality
(Images: Market Hall Foods)