Kitchn Love Letters

The Splurgy Bottle I’m Gifting to All My Friends This Year (No, It’s Not Wine)

published Nov 30, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

I have a love/hate relationship with gifting. I want to give everyone on my list a good gift. And by good I mean something that makes the receiver feel seen. In years past, that meant making a mental note when a friend chips a pie plate, or spending way too much time searching for a particular set of picture frames for my brother-in-law’s new office. 

Unfortunately for me, loved ones aren’t regularly nicking their bakeware or starting new businesses, so sussing out these kinds of personalized gifts can be complicated. But fortunately for me (and them, and maybe even some of you), I found Piro, a premium bottle of olive oil that I can truly see anyone on this year’s list being thrilled to receive.

What’s So Great About Piro High-Antioxidant Extra-Virgin Olive Oil?

It’s not every day you watch freshly harvested olives — I’m talking picked from the trees in the morning and driven straight to the mill in the afternoon or overnight — become oil right in front of your eyes. But in early November, I traveled to Tuscany to witness first-hand the care and attention (and sleepless nights) the folks behind Piro put into making their award-winning oil.

Of course, it starts with high-quality ingredients. In this case, it’s olives, most of which are grown locally in Tuscany; the remaining arrive overnight in trucks from nearby Puglia. Once at the mill, the olives are cleaned before going through the crusher, which pulverizes them, followed by a malaxer (a trough with spiral mixing blades that stirs the olive paste for roughly 45 minutes until the oil starts to separate out).

The mix then goes through a series of centrifuges (first horizontal, then vertical) where the oil is separated from the pomace (pulp, crushed pits, water) and more particulate matter and water.

Now, here’s where Piro differs from other olive oils: Before bottling, the oil is filtered a third time. It passes through an air-pressurized dual lenticular filter — similar to the ones used in wine making — to remove even more particulate matter. (While chatting with co-founders Daniele Lepori, Romain Piro, and Marie-Charlotte Piro, I learned the machinery they use is a prototype and currently the only one of its kind being used in this way.)

This inventive process is, in part, how the olive oil received a gold award at the New York World Olive Oil Competition four years in a row and, most recently, a 97/100 from the Flos Olei, a prestigious international guide to extra-virgin olive oil. Beyond that, it’s what gives Piro a wonderfully robust flavor — the kind that lingers a bit and finishes with a peppery exclamation point. The high-antioxidant oil also has 25% of the daily value of vitamin E, although several other oils — sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil — are also rich in the nutrient. It is truly delicious enough to drink, which I did.

What’s the Best Way to Use Piro High-Antioxidant Extra-Virgin Olive Oil?

While slurping down olive oil is surely a good time (seriously, grab some friends, some bottles, a green apple to cleanse your palate, and have yourself a tasting party!), the hands-down best way to use this oil is often and with complete abandon. One night, I repeatedly drizzled it into an already delicious bowl of mushroom soup between bites. 10/10 recommend you try it.

It adds freshness and brightness to pizza, pastas, beet salads, and straight-up leafy greens. But don’t stop with those two: Sauté (or roast) your favorite vegetables with Piro and some seasonings. Same goes for your go-to meat and seafood dishes.

It’s surprisingly at home over pistachio cannolis, and I recommend you try drizzling some over your favorite pastries (hello, biscuits and croissants) and baked goods (cheesecake, anyone?). Or end the night a few scoops of just-as-luxe vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of olive oil, and some sea salt flakes for garnish instead of sprinkles.

Have you tried this olive oil? Tell us about it in the comments.