Olive Oil Overload

May 14, 2011

I was looking in my pantry and realized I have 6 bottles of olive oil. Now seriously, is this necessary? So I decided to taste them, catargorize them and well, quite frankly justify my obsessive compulsion to buy gourmet food items.

Since the NE Food Show, I am more aware of the subtleties of olives, much as grapes will vary from region to region, and I decided to set up a little tasting station in my kitchen. The contenders were all Extra Virgin varieties and included:

Fillipio Berio in a can – grocery store variety, used for all my cooking
Manzanilla Unfiltered, from Spain
Alili from Morocco (a Marshall’s find)
California Olive Ranch (a new find at Shaw’s)
PONS Organic from Spain
Olivaylle Non Plus Ultra Olive Nectar from Australia (another Marshall’s find)

The tasting was set up in small dishes, with a whole grain crusty bread to dip. I started with the PB Grocery store brand and realized how “thick” this was, as it coated the back of my throat. It was olivey in smell and taste, with a strong peppery finish. Needed a little sip of something to continue on this one.

Next I moved to the Manzanilla – expecting something heavier, being unfiltered, this olive oil was light, with a slightly nutty beginning, a peppery olive flavor to finish, but all subtle in flavor. No coating of the throat, even when tasted alone. This oil had a slight fruitiness to it, thinking it would be nice on fish, salads or tomatoes.
Now not sure what to expect, I moved to the California Ranch oil, which had a light “green” smell to it, but a very strong green flavor (think grass. There was almost an unripe olive flavor, a bitter edge and strong grassy flavor. This would definitely need a strong partner, as in lamb or beef to compete.
A bit nervous, I moved to the Alili, which had a nice citrusy smell to it. This oil was very smooth, very light and held a citrusy note to it. A delicate salad, fish or even fruit would pair nicely. Lovely overall, and delicate, delicious, and subtle.
On to the PONS…..not having any idea what to expect. I dipped, dabbed and tasted this oil to find a very light flavor with a nice peppery finish. The smell was olivey, but light and was very subtle in its flavors. Not sure I liked this as compared to others, but for cooking a delicate meal, it would be perfect. A good replacement for light olive oil.
Last but not least the oil from down under. What to expect? Where would this oil take me? Dip, dab, taste…..wow! A very unripe, very green twiggy flavor and smell. This would need to be paired with very strong flavors as well…overpowering in its greenness…..I would use this one with caution. They have a great website with recipes, so feel free to experiment at http://www.olivaylle.com/. The Cuban recipes look interesting.

As I type this blog, I can still taste the flavors of the oils every so subtle on the back of my tongue. But I am surprised, and yet should have known, that different varietals, different countries would all produce quite different flavors. And though this exercise was meant to be a justification, it tells me I am way behind on my purchases and need to do more research (i.e. buy more oils). At least olive oil is heart healthy, right? But how much will be too much? To you my reader, please experiment on your own, share your findings with me…there are so many to try, and so little pantry space….a good place to start is http://www.oliveoilsource.com/ to learn more.
Are you a fan of EVOO? Do you benefit from the heart healthy side of this oil? What flavors and brands do you like? I think I need to make a nice salad tonight with the Manzanilla oil. Thanks for reading and always taste theoptions out there…..you just never know what you may find.