There used to be several grades of olive oil available: Extra Virgin, Extra Fine (or fine), and just regular olive oil. The Extra Fine was a second pressing. I've not seen it around in years. Is it still produce and brought into the US?
According to Wikipedia...what was "fine" is probably now "virgin".
Retail grades in IOOC member nations
Since IOOC standards are complex, the labels in stores (except in the U.S.) clearly show an oil's grade:
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil.
Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.
Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined virgin oil, containing at most 1% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil's ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
Let me establish up front I'm as American as you can get, so I'm not some guy from outer Mongolia bad-mouthing the U.S.
I died laughing when I read your question inquiring about grades of olive oil in the United States. In the U.S. you get one grade of olive oil, it's fit for running lawn mowers — not for food. Our grading system is a fraud. Virtually all (thankfully, with the possible exception of olives grown and pressed in California) the labels on oils we encounter in our markets are figments of a marketing guy's imagination. Do you really believe an American label that says 100% Virgin Olive Oil or such baloney phrases (in this country) as first pressed, cold pressed, etc? In the united States it is perfectly legal to refine inferior oil and call it 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
In Europe, by law, when you buy olive oil, or even beer, there are strict labeling laws. In the United States, our entrepreneurs invent whatever label sounds impressive to them. I don't know from experience, but I'm told that California growers adhere to strict, self imposed standards, and I suppose you can buy fine oil from them with harvest dates to guide you — but you'll pay for the privilege.
I go to Europe on business only because I have to — but while I'm there I taste olive oil like you only dream about here in the states. When you buy expensive olive oil from specialty shops, count yourself lucky if it's not rancid. In a word, olive oil is a crapshoot in the U.S.
I'm not sure if you're putting me in my place or just kidding around — but I was serious when I said that olive oil sold in Europe is what it says on their labels. I'm not an expert on anything, so anything I endorse could be engine oil, but I remember buying olive oil from Costco, when I lived in Chicago, it at least was dated. The quality — good, bad, or indifferent aside, you were assured that weren't buying oil from two or three harvests ago.
We Americans will get decent olive oil when we demand it. In my mind it's criminal to allow supermarket O.O. to be labeled cold pressed, or first pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil when it's not. They have have all been refined to reduce the acid level to that of real Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I don't want to be misunderstood, let me say it this way: American bottled olive oil is a perfectly good product and deserves to be in the American kitchen if it is honestly labeled — I just get ticked off when American producers call it: first pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. No laws are broken in the U.S. when oil pressed from pomace is labeled Extra Virgin Olive Oil! That is wrong and wouldn't be tolerated in the ECU.
It's true that America as a country does not comply with the european guidelines on olive oil, however with a little education it's not so difficult to know what you're getting *if* you know what you're looking for.
In the case of California olive oils, look for the seal of Extra Virgin certification from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) and check the date of certification (even EVO oils eventually age beyond Extra Virgin standards). The COOC follows International standards when classifying California olive oils as Extra Virgin
Producers who receive this certification from COOC will definitely put it on the label.
For foreign olive oils purchased in the US, it is more difficult. (Foreign oils purchased overseas are subject to labeling requirements, and thus are trustworthy.) Check the label for an indication of authenticity, such as a D.O.P. (Denomination of Origin Protection), which in Spanish is D.O., in French is A.O.C. and in Italian is DOP Additionally, check for a vintage date, and be suspicious of bargain prices. Finally – and this applies to all uncertified extra virgin olive oils – take an educated guess, and see what you get. You can find uncertified ones that are quite good in flavor, it's just riskier.
Whenever I'm in Spain, Italy, France or Greece, I always bring back a stock of olive oils - many bottled on the estates where the olives are grown. Between my husband and I, we make sufficient trips (thank goodness for cheap European travel) to keep us more or less well-stocked at all times.
In fact, we're off to France in a few weeks, through the channel tunnel to pick up supplies of wines and oils.
[QUOTE=Ishbel;159634]Whenever I'm in Spain, Italy, France or Greece, I always bring back a stock of olive oils - many bottled on the estates where the olives are grown. Between my husband and I, we make sufficient trips (thank goodness for cheap European travel) to keep us more or less well-stocked at all times.
Boy, you Brits really know how to break it off in us poor Yanks. Not wishing you any hard luck buying up all that wine and estate bottled olive oil in Spain, Italy, France, or Greece, but I hope you gain 10 pounds.
Hahahaaa, Bigfoot.... envy is sooooo unbecoming :roll: :)
I tell you, that Tunnel under the Channel has revolutionised shopping for many British people. If you could see how many drive over to France, just for the day, to go to their Hypermarkets and fill up with crates of beer, loads of wines and fresh bread and butters, as well as cheeses. Some of them are so stuffed, the vans are overloaded and look like they might collapse!
Edited to add: one woman I spoke to in a checkout queue said she and her husband travelled to France from their home in Dorset (about 2/3 hours away from the port) every 4-6 weeks - and have never been anywhere else in France apart from Calais and the hypermarkets and wine supermarkets just outside the port! Talk about travel broadening the mind....
Having eaten in England, I can understand why that woman from Dorset goes to Calais to broaden her larder even if her mind is failing to follow suit.
I'm teasing of course, I'm really an Anglophile and have always admired British contributions to western civilization as I do to France's devotion to arcane sauces and crunchy three foot long loaves of bread.
While we don't have a Chunnel here, we Americans are not without our tunnel from Manhattan to Brooklyn — that trip is like going to a foreign country too. I may check out the wine and olive oil in Canarsie one day and report back to this forum.
Ahhaaaaa - a bit like we citizens of Edinburgh, who think that anyone who lives outside the central belt of Scotland is a 'teuchter' (gaelic word for a yokel!)
The spaghetti farm is a famous UK April Fool's joke from the very serious-minded BBC, way back in the late 50s. People actually BELIEVED that Switzerland had a spaghetti-tree industry! It's explained here... http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/aprilfool/
They actually do have their own language in Brooklyn- their own alphabet too, but it seems to be missing the letter "R" LOL
UK food has not been well received in the US- don't know why.. other foods are prevelant- Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, etc... but very little Brit. I think it gets a bad rap here- too bland, too simple, etc... I, personally, love it! But no restaurants here. There is one place in town called "A taste of Britain" supposed to have REAL fish and chips- place is run by a Welsh woman- but it is only open during the same hours I work, so I have never been there.
Mochef- perhaps you have found a niche market here in the US- olive oil importer. Perhaps you could set up a side business.... Bring us the good stuff!!!
Ishbel, I'm aware that the culinary life of the UK is blossoming as its artisanal cheeses, smoked fish, lamb, etc. are meriting great appreciation. I suffered through many overcooked, mediocre meals there over the years, but my visit in '02 showed me the tide had turned.
Just the same, I have a tin of mushy peas in my kitchen pantry, just for nostalgia. :smiles:
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"Gordon Ramsay is just one of our new wave of chefs."
Not the best example, Ishbel. Ramsay didn't make it in the Big Apple. Maybe he's learned that the only thing worse than being wrong is being loud wrong.
Jamie, while you're right about Brooklynites having their own language (or, at least, an officially recognized dialect) I don't know where you got that "drop the R" from.
I was bred & buttered in Brooklyn. If anything, we tend to add Rs; as in "idear." The real hallmark, though, is the use of a glottle stop in place of a T in words like bottle and mountain; and replacing the T with a D in most other words.
Dipthongs do not sit lightly on the collective tongue. Thus, in the phrase "waddayatink" you'll note the loss of an H.
Much of New York City picked up the Brooklyn usage and inflections through the years. Thus, "djeet" (did you eat) and similar super-contractions are spoken City-wide. But they originated in what, in the hearts of its residents, is still the fifth largest city in the U.S.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling