Evviva! The new extra virgin olive oils have finally arrived in our
warehouse. Try them as soon as you can. You will not find fresher oils than these; one month ago the
olives were still on the tree. The magnificent five are:
Our baby tins and bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil were
practically made to be king stuffers. Unlike many doodad type
stuffers you may be considering these are super functional and as they say
in Sicilian, "sono duci a vedersi", so cute looking! Even
the most ardent EV Olive Oil consumers we know find these little tins/bottles a
staple in their lives.
The small tins of Pianogrillo & Antichi Uliveti are about 11 inches tall and the small bottle of Vicopisano
is about 16 inches tall, and they all contain about 8.5 ounces of the
green good stuff. As we said, a great size for stocking stuffing.
But which to choose for your empty stockings? We
recommend the mono-varietal (bosana olive) Antichi Uliveti Del Prato EVOO
from Sardinia for the fish lover in you life. For someone who loves an
intense spice, go for mono-varietal (tonda iblea olive) Pianogrillo from Sicily. And for that special someone who always chooses a fruity
EVOO, we recommend mono-varietal (frantoio olive) Vicopisano from Tuscany.
1. EVOO should taste like a fresh squeezed olive. If you are not sure what that means, we suggest you visit Italy in early fall for some good old-fashion olive squeezing.
2. The best EVOOs have a great smell. ALWAYS sniff your olive oil. We suggest you sniff your oil from a shot glass. Like wine, great EVOO has an identifiable fragrance and perfume which may make you think of fresh cut grass, tomato plant leaves and/or green almonds.
3. Great EVOO develops nuances in your mouth. The intensity of the oil will change in your mouth and identifiable flavors, different from those you detected on the nose, will come out.
4. EVOO should leave your mouth clean. After you swallow a teaspoon of EVOO, your mouth should not be left greasy.
5. The best EVOO is peppery. Depending on the olive variety, an EVOO will leave some degree of spice in the back of your throat. You may even cough. This is a good sign. Pepperiness is an obvious indicator of polyphenols and antioxidants.
While this year's olives are ripening on Italy's trees, we are finishing off last years EV olive oil for dessert! We recommend a scoop of vanilla gelato and a teaspoon of our Sicilian Pianogrillo Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Vincenzo Gucciardo's Sea Salt from Trapani, Sicily, sprinkled on top. The combination of creamy vanilla and fruity EV olive oil is reminiscent of the divine mozzarella/EV olive oil combination. To make this dessert even more Sicilian, and arguably more delicious, eat it on a brioche!
According to this article in the NYTimes, there are products in the supermarkets which are classified as nutricosmetics and functional foods. I've never seen them. Have you? This thing is huge! The article says it is a growing business, expected to reach $8.5 billion in 2015. It's drinks and foods with names such as Age Defying Water, Slimming Chocolate Chews, Clear Skin Capsules... Who buys this stuff?
Of course, doctors say that no, good skin does not come from "slickly marketed drinks and food", but from vegetables, whole foods, plain water. The designer Norma Kamali (picture left), interviewed in the article, is among the critics of all this madness and is a strong supporter of olive oil, which she has been been using all her life... she ingests and applies olive oil to reap various benefits. She says olive oil is ideal for massage and stress relief. You can brush your teeth with oil and cinnamon to clean and remove bacteria. Use olive oil liniments for rashes and burns. Take a tablespoon or more a day to stay regular. This is all she said. Well, look at the results in the picture! She is in her 60s, doesn't she look wonderful? Forget all that nutri beauty garbage, buy good food and you will become beautiful and healthy, also!
The new olive oils are coming in. They are arriving in waves, to accentuate the fact that they are ready at different times, depending on where the olive trees are located. Clearly, the first olive oils to cross the finish line are the ones from the South. We have just received Pianogrillo and Il Tratturello, both from 2011-2012 harvest, meaning that the olives were on the tree literally a month ago!
Please don't call them "Novello". Francesco, who is a kinder person, would make a face. Lorenzo, who is much tougher, will never talk to you, again! The term Novello is for tourists. These are simply the New Olive Oils. They will stay with us for the next 12 months. Novello Olive oils do not exist.
Next olive oil to hit our shores will be Cru di Cures, made by Laura Fagiolo in Sabina (Lazio region) with leccino, frantoio, carboncella and local raja olives. If everything goes well, Cru di Cures should be in our warehouse early January 2012. What a way to start the new year. We can't wait!
These are the members of the Consular Women Club, wives of diplomats from all over the world, who came to the warehouse in the Bronx to learn about Italy's Best Foods. Their enthusiasm was catching. They all said it was like being in Italy. It was clear they were having a wonderful time. We did too!!!
Stefano (of NYTimes fame), led the olive oil tasting and it was very interesting to hear some of the comments. A lady who says she cooks Italian a lot and buys tons of olive oil, said that when she goes to the store she buys the olive oils that has the prettiest label. Everybody does it!!! Another said that she always asks for the greenest oil. Everybody does it! No more! After listening to Stefano they are now converted to the real thing!
The final WOW arrived when we tasted the first Pandoro of the season (just arrived in the warehouse). And the WOW was from our new friends and from all of us @ Gustiamo. Really spectacular. Dear CWC, great to share this with you! Come again!
When we were invited by the NYTimes for a demonstration of how to taste an EV olive oil and for a blind tasting of oils, we were extremely proud and excited. Yes, we know a lot about EV Olive Oils; we can talk about olive oils forever! Our Stefano is a graduate of the University of Gastronomic Science, near Torino. He talks about olive oils and poliphenols and perossids to anybody who will listen.
As the excitement sank in, we started to panic! A blind tasting? A blind tasting is tricky! We never did a blind tasting before, let alone in the office of the NYTimes, in front of such icons as Florence Fabricant and Julia Moskin!!! What if an industrial olive oil or a Californian olive oil tasted better (for whatever reason) than the artisanal Italian oils that Gustiamo so proudly represents in America?
There was no doubt. Two thousand plus years of olive oil production in Italy, the country's various microclimates and different soils, the passion of our farmers... make a huge difference. No fear of Italy being surpassed by any other country, in terms of the quality of its EV Olive Oil...at least for another couple thousand of years!
Happy Columbus Day! Let's celebrate it with Italy's Best Foods! Will you be watching the Parade in NYC on TV? If you do, you might witness a very important moment: our friend Gennaro Pecchia will personally give a gift to Andrew Cuomo. What is the gift? It is a special bottle of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Why? Read the card that goes with the gift:
From Number 1 to Number 1 - A Gift from Italy to Andrew Cuomo This is the First bottle of the latest harvest of Il Tratturello EV Olive Oil, made by Francesco Travaglini in the Molise region of Italy. Francesco is a young, knowledgeable, passionate farmer and his olive oil is one of the best. Please note that all Il Tratturello bottles are numbered and THIS IS THE NUMBER 1! There is only 1 Number One and it is Francesco's gift to the New York State Number 1, Andrew Cuomo. With all our best wishes of a peaceful and successful mandate.
Left, the placque that goes with the Bottle, made on a piece of wood from an olive tree that felled by a storm last winter. It's the olive oil's ultimate recycle!
Carlo Mirarchi of venerable Roberta's in Brooklyn, was nominated Best New Chef 2011 and he is going to the Food & Wine Classics in Aspen to receive the well deserved award and to cook for food gods like Daniel Boulud, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer... this Saturday. Congratulations!!! Carlo is not going alone, he is bringing along Pianogrillo, his favorite EV Olive Oil made near Ragusa by Lorenzo Piccione from Tonda Iblea Olives. Not for nothing was Pianogrillo nominated Best of Sicily 2011!!! The Best chefs and The Best products travel always together!