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OLIVE OIL TIMES-pick of the best

Olive Oil Times? Made in ancient times!
Olives were very important in ancient times. Cultivation spread far and wide through the ancient Mediterranean to Iberia and North Africa. Fine olive oil became a valuable trading commodity.
The olive has a cultural significance as well. A branch of peace and the winners crown at the Olympic Games

Olive Oil, liquid gold that date back to ancient Greece

More than 200 varieties of olives are grown in Spain but olive oil has been with us for thousands of years. It really all began in the Middle East and was produced and consumed throughout the Mediterranean 

The Greeks knew its value and began to make and sell olive oil for many purposes other than culinary.
But it was thanks to the Romans that took it to all their empire. Spanish olive oil was the most appreciated throughout the Roman world. The olive tree was a symbol of power as well as peace

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The symbol that has lasted until today

 

 

 

Does it matter if not virgin?

I receive quite a few questions about cooking oil, especially olive oil. I understand the questions. Most recipes simply call for olive oil, but there seem to be an array options from extra-virgin to pure, and light olive oil. Is there really a difference?
What is it?

The way olive oil Is graded

Looking at regular olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil side by side one can see that the virgin has a darker color while the regular is lighter and brighter

This color difference varies from brand to brand so you cannot always use color to tell two grades of oil apart. They can vary drastically in taste as well as quality. So color is only one factor and not the deciding point.
Olive oil is graded by its level of free oleic acid. The amount of this acid indicates the extent that fat has broken down into fatty acids

Refined oils have very little olive aroma, flavor, or color. They also lack the bitterness  characteristic of virgin oil

Unlike unrefined extra-virgin olive oil organic, refined oils lack the important attributes  that make extra-virgin oil so special.

Trust my experience

I have worked as a chef for the past 40 years in many of the top hotels and restaurants in the world and I would have to say that my main dedication has been towards the cuisine of the Mediterranean. I recently arrived in Spain after 5 years in Cyprus at the head of the top Mediterranean restaurant on the island.

I have also been lucky enough to have a family home in Tuscany where olive oil is almost a religion!

Personally, and I may be somewhat bias, I prefer the Italian oil. This said Greece has won many of the major awards as has Spain, Portugal, Croatia and a host of other countries have won top awards in 2020

Access to the best will of course depend on where you are located.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here though are some tips to guide you on how to spot good from bad:

Choosing an olive oil from a shelf of bottles at wildly varied price points can be somewhat confusing. Here are some pointers.

1. Only buy oil labeled extra-virgin. This is not a guarantee that the oil will be the best, but it will probably not be among the worst. Bottles labeled just plain “Olive Oil” and “Light Olive Oil” are refined oils like vegetable oil, and not very interesting.

2. Read the label. Even if it’s written in Italian, French or Spanish, you can probably figure out enough to recognize harvest and “use by” dates. The finest producers always put the harvest date proudly on their olive oil. The use-by date can be a little deceptive since it is usually 18 months from bottling, rather than from harvest.

3. Avoid anything in a clear glass bottle, even with a pretty label. Olive oil hates light and the oil inside will perhaps have lost most of its flavor and aroma. Look for extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles or, better yet, in tins.

4. The term “first cold pressing,” although widely seen, is redundant. By definition, extra-virgin oil must come from the first  pressing, which must be accomplished with no added heat 

5. Extra-virgin olive oil does not improve with age. Fresher is better, and right out of the mill, olive oil is a fabulous experience. Fresh oil may have unexpectedly assertive flavors of bitterness and pungency that sometimes override the fruitiness. These diverse flavors are treasured by connoisseurs because they indicate high quality, and by nutritionists because they’re evidence of lots of healthful things

6. Light is the enemy and so is heat. Keep your precious bottles in a cool, dark environment. 

Food pairing with olive oil-Quality is King!

Let me use a simple example:

Salad of ripe figs, San Danielle ham and buffalo mozzarella 

You don’t have to be a star chef to put this combo together, that is of course, providing that the ingredients are the best of the best.

However, and here is the rub;

-dressed with a mediocre olive oil-mediocre result at best;

-dressed with the best virgin olive oil organic-sublime

Why spoil exotic ingredients with a weak punch line?

Lots of options-Olive oil of the world

I will direct you to a marvelous site where not only can you retrieve huge amount of information on olive oil, best oil awards and so forth but you can also type in where you live and you will be directed to suppliers of quality oil nearest to you-Click here

These will not always offer online ordering, however I am busy sourcing the best options for online purchasing. Leave a comment if you think this is a good idea and I will update this article with suitable online links.

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