Extra Virgin Olives?

2007.Apr.07 Saturday · 4 comments

in Food & Recipes, Life

“The flavor, color and fragrance of olive oils can vary dramatically depending on distinctions such as growing region and the crop’s condition. All olive oils are graded in accordance with the degree of acidity they contain. The best are cold pressed, a chemical free process that involves only pressure, which produces a natural level of low acidity. Extra virgin olive oil, the cold pressed result of the first pressing of the olives, is only 1 percent acid. It’s considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive oils and is therefore also the most expensive. Extra virgin olive oil can range from a crystalline champagne color to greenish golden to bright green. In general, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor. After extra virgin, olive oils are classified in order of ascending acidity. Virgin olive oil is also a first press oil, with a slightly higher level of acidity of between 1 and 3 percent. Fino olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin oils (fino is Italian for “fine”). Products labeled simply olive oil (once called pure olive oil) contain a combination of refined olive oil and virgin or extra virgin oil. The new light olive oil contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fat as regular olive oil…and it also has exactly the same number of calories. What the term “light” refers to is that – because of an extremely fine filtration process – this olive oil is lighter in both color and fragrance, and has little of the classic olive oil flavor. It’s this rather nondescript flavor that makes “light” olive oil perfect for baking and cooking where regular olive oil’s obvious essence might be undesirable.

– The Food Network, online Encylopedia

Extra Virgin Olive Oyl?

Buenos Aires – No, seriously folks, as I’ve mentioned many a time, or at least twice, really good quality olive oil makes a difference in cooking and flavoring. If I were to use the WayBack Machine and turn the clock to a couple of years ago, in NYC, I could walk into any of dozens and dozens of stores and find myself confronted by shelf after shelf of imported olive oils of various levels of purity, color, etc., from all over the globe, or at least, for the most part, places that actually grow olives. Here in Argentina, the market is dominated by a brand called Cocinero (cook), that produces various oils – olive, corn, sunflower, soy, etc…. In many stores, you won’t find anything else. While serviceable, it’s not what I’d call a high quality oil.

So, it was with some delight that I received an e-mail from the representative for a company here that is growing olives of various varieties in their own orchards, pressing them properly, and bottling them both as single varietal extra virgin olive oils – and just as there is a difference in the flavor of different olives, so there is in the oils produced from them – as well as a blended cooking oil. We arranged a day to meet and smell and taste the oils (in wine glasses, swirling and the whole works), and I was won over immediately. Sure the individual varietal oils are a little pricey, but you use just a little to finish dishes – they currently offer four varieties – arbequina (Spanish olive with very smooth, with nutty notes), frantoio (Italian olive, very fruity, with a touch of spiciness), picual (Spanish olive, very spicy, and fairly strongly flavored), and one that’s actually a duo pairing that I like quite a bit, very fruity and aromatic, arauco (Argentine olive) and farga (Spanish olive). The company name is eliá, and you can find more information on them at their local representative’s website here (in Spanish) – they had their own website up in both Spanish and English until recently, I’m not sure where it went.

Elia Extra Virgin Olive Oils

We’ve been using them exclusively for about a month now and it makes a huge difference. Apparently they’re the hit of the puertas cerradas world as well, the representative, Alfredo, had asked me for some contacts at the other spots I knew about, and one by one, we’ve all switched. We will also be making them available for people who want to buy them through us, since as of yet, they’re only available in a few, fairly high priced specialty stores.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

ksternberg April 7, 2007 at 16:04

What a pleasure to finally find some truly excellent olive oils. I take it for granted that I have a fairly wide selection, even in an edge of civilized living such as Ipswich, Mass.

asadoarg April 9, 2007 at 19:01

I remember being told once of a shop in Palermo that sold primarily their own olive oil. You could even take an empty container and have them fill it up if you wanted to go that far. Not sure if they are still around and if so the quality.

dan April 10, 2007 at 08:34

I’d love to find it if it is! Though, I’m quite happy with these, I must admit.

martin April 11, 2007 at 16:34

If the shop in palermo is the one I’m thinking of (Almacen Something, it was called) then the olive oil is really bad.

We opened a bottle of “Abra de los Olivos”, Manzanilla which is just -great-

It’s not cheap, but really high quality

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