As it is a tough topic to discuss and as I was asked many times what is the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), here is what I know and learned throughout my years as a chef.
I believe the first thing you need to understand, is where and how they plant the trees.
Olive trees generally grow in the south of Europe where there is better climate, generally warm.
The trees should be planted first on the outskirt of the land, then coming on the inside, they should be planted in between the first row and so on. This will help the tree to get exposed to the natural sunshine, and also to prevent more of the fruit to be damage in case if rain. Nevertheless to say, that the first row of trees will have a minimal harvest.
Understanding the EVOO and its derivatives.
An EVOO is ALWAYS the product of a first press of olives. Some companies are misleading us by stating that on their bottles.
In my opinion the best of the best of EVOO are the ones that are produce using one kind of an olive variety. Now don’t get me wrong the other are as good but will differ in quality.
Let me explain:
If some olive tree growers based in the south of Italy do not have enough land, they will usually go to a CO-OP, where this said CO_OP will buy their harvest, as well as the harvest of many smaller producers. Then the CO_OP will produce the EVOO and so on. This will be the result of a lesser quality of EVOO, because, since they buy olives from different region and supplier, they will also have different varieties of olives. They then will press their combined olives to give you the EVOO. The end result is a mixed of olive variety, thus in my opinion not as good as if it was coming from only one variety. They will also mix probably the green and black olives, thus producing a darker olive oil. I believe a good grade of olive oil should be on the greenish side.
Now that we understand the process and the quality of the EVOO, something else you should know, is that all producers of olive oil have to be certified by the International Olive Council panel, and pass their requirement, which are:
Being without defect (no trace of byproducts)
Being slightly fruity
Pass both the chemical and sensory evaluation
The International Olive Council is based in Madrid (Spain) and is comprised of 23 states members.
The 3 criteria that makes a great EVOO are:
Fruity taste: Having a pleasant and spicy fruit flavors. Ripe olives will yield olive oil that are milder, aromatic, buttery, and floral. Greener olives will yield olive oil that are grassy, herby and bitter.
Bitter: This will create mostly a pleasant acidic flavor sensation on the tongue.
Pungent: This will create a more peppery sensation in your mouth.
Once more, all those criteria will differ on the variety of olives used, whether mixed or coming from a single one.
On other Olive oil products, I will do my best to explain as it is a bit confusing there:
As we now know the best one is Extra virgin oil, which is made with the process of natural first press. It is also and ALWAYS pressed cold. Depending on the area of harvest, if the weather is too hot, then they will press them at night, when it is much cooler (makes sense!!!)
Then we have virgin olive oil also coming from the first press, but of a lower quality of EVOO, thus cannot called as such. It is also coming from the first cold press.
Pure olive oils, which are usually a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oil. It is of a lesser quality and usually has been treated mechanically.
Olive oils, are basically the same as pure olive oil, a blend of virgin olive oil and refined olive oils. This one is even of a lesser quality than the pure olive oil and does not really taste anything.
Pomace oil, once more the same as the 2 mentioned above, but after being mechanically process for a longer period. Is attribute are its smoking point which can be used for cooking, that is why it is mainly used in the restaurant and hotel industry. Cheaper, last longer, and heats well.
Then we have, refined olive oil, which are of a way much lesser quality. They are made with virgin olive oil of a higher acidic point.
To give you a better understanding, here are some basics know how on the labeling:
1. Extra virgin olive oil, is the highest grade given to an olive oil, meaning it has been pressed cold and only one time and no heat or chemicals were used in the process.
2. Made from refined olives, of a very low quality and it is an virgin oil that has been controlled with chemical to improve the taste
3. Cold press, of a great quality, meaning the olive has been pressed only one time to extract the oil.
4. Bottled in any country, usually meaning that they bought the oil from one or more country and bottled it in that particular country.
5. Made in any country, usually made with oil bought and bottled in that particular country.
Furthermore, it is of a disbelief that most people think that there is always a second press of olives to produce olive oil, it is not true. The same procedure applies for all them.
For a better quality of olive oil, you should always check the date of peremption as olive oil degrade very easily.
As I understand, it is still a subject to be debated on, I do hope that you learned a few things about.
Bottom line, look for an extra virgin olive oil that is made with olives and produce in one country only.
Also look for the point of acidity, the lower, the better.
Awesome dish here. Spaghetti with seafood. What i did was to saute the seafood with some EVOO and lots of garlic, added a bit of dry chili flakes and loads of fresh chopped parsley. Once sauteed, i deglazed it some a nice dry white wine, added a chunck of butter then some salt and pepper. Then simply poured the sauce over the spaghetti. Simply seafoodlicious.
As tomatoes are in season, juicy and ripe. I found some at my local market. Then i went to another local shop where they specialize in imported products and bought the frsh mozzarella, little expensive but really worst it. Then i combined the 2 ingredients, add some fresh basil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper, a splash of EVOO and some balsamic reduction. The result is amazing.
here is a very simple dish that you can definitely do at home. Tofu noodle like stir fried, then topped with minced pork and sweet pepper. i personally added some Sechuan pepper flavored salt to enhance it.