Olive oil – luscious, complex, alive and yet divine. It is a gift from the earth, healthy and versatile – but why not make it a gift for the holidays?
It is a good idea to learn something about olive oil first. Start with Tom Mueller‘s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (Norton 2011) for a in depth review of all things to do with the fragrant oil. Even in the first pages you can begin to learn how to taste olive oil – how to appreciate a great oil like a great wine:
I learned that oils made from different olive varieties, or from the same varieties grown in different places, can be every bit as diverse as wine from different grape varietals: the straw-colored casaliva from Lake Garda was almost sweet, with hints of pine nuts and almonds, while the emerald green moraiolo
The book will give you insight into the fraud and fakery that plagues the olive oil world – why much of the “extra virgin” labeled olive oil isn’t any such thing.
Want more? Then attend an olive oil pairing dinner hosted by Tom and Fig & Olives restaurant owner Laurent Halasz in the Meatpacking District location of his restaurant on December 19th. It follows an olive oil tasting and book signing. Here is the menu:
§ Zucchini Carpaccio with Olive Oil, Lemon Pine Nut, Parmesan paired with Chemlali Olive Oil from Tunisia
§ Striped Bass Papillote with Zucchini, Eggplant, Fennel, Saffron served with Olive Oil Mashed Potato & Chives paired with Arbequina Olive Oil from Portugal
§ Salmon à la Andalucía with Chickpeas and Verdial Olives paired with Picual Olive Oil from Spain
§ Organic Chicken with Provence Vegetables with Roasted Fig and Polenta paired with Nocellara Olive Oil from Italy
§ Roasted Veal Tenderloin with Fig Chutney paired with Manzanillo Olive Oil from California
If you want to share you newfound love of olive oil and growing expertise in identifying the myriad different flavors in real extra virgin oil, then try Fig & Olive’s oil selection. Super Chef tried three different oils that arrived in corked wine bottles: Nocellara from Italy (medium & green), Coratina from Australia (assertive & peppery), and Hojiblanca from Spain (assertive & peppery). Have your own olive oil tasting – or bring them as a hostess gift to a holiday meal, along with some good bread for dipping.
Get a head start on an easy-to-accomplish New Year’s resolution: eat a Mediterranean diet. Start with great olive oil.