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Best Olive Oil You've Ever Had

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Over the years I've had the good fortune of enjoying some exceptional olive oils, although over the past few years I've not been able to easily afford the finest oils as in the past. However, I recently came across a dish that I want to make for a couple of friends - it's a simple pasta dish and I can see that by using the finest ingredients the results will be fantastic.

I have sources for an exceptional Parmigiano-Reggiano, superb spaghetti, top quality balsamic, and amazing tomatoes, and heavenly herbs. I even have a source for some outstanding olive oils, but before spending the outrageous sum required I'd like to see what else may be out there. So, regardless of price, what is the best olive oil you've ever had?
post #2 of 38

Best Olive Oil

Best olive oil I have ever had was from Henwood Estates in Northern CA. I help him press some of his oil- he did not use a hammer mill but a cider grater that he built to process his olive pulp. It was amazing stuff. He closed down his operation but if there are any bottles left floating around somewhere it is exceptional.
post #3 of 38
just slurged at WF with birfday monies.....next to the fancy cheese selection is an olive oil boutique (huge bonus is being able to taste the products!!!!)
The one i ended up with is a big dog.....French, Oliviers & CO .....Moulin Des Penitents Cooperative des Mees Andre Pinatel.
16.8 fl oz $50.99

It was hard chosing, I had to try an awful lot of oils to reach a decision.

Umpteen years ago in Walnut Grove, CA there was a bizarre specialty store that had their "house oil" that was greener than green and so fruity. Great shtuff.
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post #4 of 38
Thread Starter 
There are quite a few excellent, and even superb, Provençal oils. Coincidentally, I am waiting for another batch to arrrive at one of the places I buy oil.

The last French oil I had was Moulins de la Brague, which is a blend of sunflower oil and E.V olive oil infused with dried red peppers, bay leaves, rosemary and other herbs. It's medium hot and a bit spicy, with a great depth of flavor. The bottle comes with the herbs and spices inside, and makes a lovely presentation.

The WF I generally frequent doesn't have such a nice olive oil setup - just a nice, but not great, selection on a few shelves. There's a new WF that opened within the last year to which I've been meaning to return. Maybe they have a greater, more interesting selection. It's the biggest WF I've ever visited, and has many more items and higher quality items than the others I've seen.

Thanks for the tip.
post #5 of 38
The biggest producer and exporter of olive oil is Spain. I have tried several expensive Spanish evoo and have found it all to be too acidic for me.

The next biggest producer is Greece, primarily from the island of Krete. If you can go to a mediterranean specialty store you will easily find Kretan olive oil, the best being from the Sitia region of Krete. Don't get swayded by the Kalamata olive oil. Any greek will tel you it's just not as good. The primary difference in Kretan olive oil is the type of trees and the farming methods. Kalamata olives are huge, Kretan olives are the size of a navy bean. Kretan olive trees are kept pruned very tight, almost like grape vines, where in the rest of Greece they are left to grow tall and wild. The effect is a much better tasting olive.

I'm lucky enough to get olive oil straight from Sitia, made by my parents who harvest their own olives.

French olive oil? Never heard of it. Even the Italians concede to the greek olive oil.

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post #6 of 38
The best? Romeu, a Portuguese oil. There's some information here: Olive Oil from The Olive Tree -- Olive Oil, Cooking, Travel, Books and Music

Some of us received Romeu oil from a Chef Talk member, "Papa". While we haven't heard from him in several years, we harbor the hope he'll show up one day! Still, there's information to be learned from his earlier posts. Try searching here for "Papa's oil" and you'll see what I mean.
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post #7 of 38
For me it's a greek olive oil. I don't know what type exactly. I was talking to Dean Themy, the then owner of the Hungry I in Salt Lake City. He poured some out of gallon can. I don't recall the labeling other than it was greek. Very good. He sold the restaurant some years ago and the new owners promptly hiked the prices, lowered the quality and service and it soon closed.

I've had some good Spanish oils too. I'd be very interested to try the Portuguese oil Mezz mentioned.

Phil
post #8 of 38
For your purposes I'd either go with Senorio de Vizcantar -- which is a very, smooth, well balanced blend from Spain; or Can Solivera Wild Extra Virgin, which is something right up your alley -- organic, from wild trees, extracted without centrifugation. It's balanced on the extremes rather than down the middle -- butter/lemon if you will.

As an everyday, the "Kalamata" at TJ's is pretty darn good.

BDL
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post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
TJ's has some "good value" oils. I've tried the Kalamata oil, or one of them - I recall that they carry two brands. The one I had was OK, although there is another of TJ's oils that I prefer.

I recall reading something about the Solivera oils a few months ago - maybe at the La Tienda site or at The Spanish Table. I made a mental note to call TST's Berkeley store to see if they carry it. One thing I don't like is that, in certain sizes, the oil is packed in plastic bottles. Sheesh! Glass bottles are also available, but it just galls me that olive oil - especially a special oil - would be packaged that way.

Not familiar with Senorio de Vizcantar - will look into it. Thanks!
post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 
The oil sounds like it's something I'd want to try. Looks like we both paid Papa a visit yesterday :)
post #11 of 38
Shel-

We found a California oil we liked very much at the Walnut Creek Sunday farmers' market:

Bariani Olive Oil
9460 Bar Du Lane
Sacramento CA 95829
916-689-9059 (phone & fax)
email: Bariani@aol.com

Give it a try if you run into it.

We like many of the Kalamata oils, too.

Mike :chef:
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post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestion. Bariani is good stuff :lips:. Been using it for years. I usually buy it at the Saturday Berkeley Farmers' Market, in part because the price is better there than in many of the local stores, and because I can usually choose from early or late harvest, but mostly because I get to chat with Santa Bariani. She is "old country" Italian ...
post #13 of 38
Where I live, south of Chicago, we just get the usual suspects when it comes to olive oil. We could go to Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Caputo's...etc. There are some ok olive oils at these stores...but it's really hit or miss (at least I've found). I would like to find a better way to narrow my chances of getting a less than mediocre olive oil when spending decent money.

I've been trying for years to get some fresh harvested olive oil direct from a grower. Most require you to buy large quantities or simply don't sell directly to the consumer at all (which I could understand).

Fall harvest is coming and living in California is certainly a plus! California Olive Oil Council



Have you ever ordered from Terra Savia? I may send them an e-mail to see when the 2008 harvest will be available for sale. There's also Jim Dixon who is supposed to have good olive oils, though I've never ordered from. I did noticed all his oils were 2005 harvest.

good luck,
dan
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
Bariani is a very good, maybe even excellent, oil. Better than anything that's found at the Trader Joe's stores that I frequent, and reasonably priced for the quality of the product. One nice thing about Bariani is that the harvest and bottling dates are printed on the label.

AFAIK, They will ship anywhere in the US, and you can ask them for the freshest oil they have. They'll tell you. But, depending on your style preference, the freshest oil may not have the flavor profile you like. They have a young, grassy, peppery oil and a smoother oil pressed from older olives. That's why I like to buy at the farmers' market when Santa or one of the other Barianis are in the booth - especially Santa - as they offer tastings and answer questions.

Coincidentally, I picked up a liter just this morning - one of the local produce markets had it on sale for about the price of a half liter. It was bottled in late June of this year.

Edit: There are quite a few excellent California olive oils that can be purchased on line. Many of these are quite fresh. A couple of times we visited a producer, saw the olives being pressed, and were able to buy some of the same oil that had been pressed just a short time earlier.

Your link to the COOC is very handy. Here's a link showing more than 400 olive oil producers in the US, with most of them in California. Perhaps it, too, will be helpful. California Olive Oil Producers

A couple of articles that I found interesting:

The Olive Oil Scandal -
Bariani Olive Oil Feature

No, but I'll look into their product(s)

Too old! Here's an address for an olive oil club that I know of from which you can purchase very fresh oils: Tasteful Selections

And take a look at Nancy Loseke's site: Fresh Press
post #15 of 38
What do you mean by "fresh" oil?

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post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 
If you click on the links I provided you'll get a vey clear understanding of the problem with many olive oils - by the time they reach the consumer they are old, sometimes very old. Olive oil loses flavor and potency with age. You want an oil that's bottled close to the crush date and on your shelf as close to the bottling date as possible.

Compounding the problem, many, if not most, oils don't indicate when the olives were crushed or bottled leaving the consumer in the dark.
post #17 of 38
The freshest olive oil I can consume is the one that was made last winter. The only season that olives are ready to be crushed are in early December. We have to wait a full year before the process can begin again. Most olive trees are only harvested every other year to ensure brilliant and tasty olives. Much like grapes - throw away the first year's harvest and wait.

Perhaps in the California climate olive oil can be made year round but not so in the Mediterranean.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #18 of 38
Thread Starter 
Our crush is in the late fall. It doesn't matter where the trees are grown, the fruit can only be harvested once a year, after it's developed and reached the desired stage of ripeness. I know of no trees that bear fruit continuously - certainly not olive trees.

The point I was making is to get the oil to the market and into the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible. Most commercial olive oil is old by the time the consumer gets it. While within a year is acceptable, sooner is even better, but that's not always possible considering travel distances, distribution channels, and other constraints. However, living in Greece, near the olive groves, means that it's easier to get fresh Greek oil. By the time that oil reaches California, it's often a lot older. Here in California the oil I can get from our California trees is going to be fresher than what customers in Greece will get.
post #19 of 38
This conversation makes me wonder if freezing olive oil makes sense--stock up in prime time and freeze it while fresh, for later use.
post #20 of 38
I'm just not sure how that makes it fresher. I mean we harvest the olives in early December, and press them straight away and bottle them straight away. We then sell those bottles to the distributors who send them all over the world. The bottles that we keep for ourselves are what we use all year long until the next pressing. Whether it is kept in my parents' apothecary for a week or it is shipped to California in a week it is the same fresh olive oil.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #21 of 38
Thread Starter 
Are your bottles light and air tight? How long does the distributor hold on to the oil before shipping it to California? How is the oil stored - under what conditions? How long does it take to get to its destination? What happens at that point - the same questions: How long and under what conditions is it stored? Does your distributor put it directly into the hands of the final consumer? Of course not. It goes to local distributors, it's stored in warehouses, it gets shipped to stores that may also store the product.

I'm not saying the oil is unacceptable, but the process and time from the initial bottling to the time it's used by the consumer can be of some detriment to the oil. There are some oils that I've seen on the shelves that are more than two years old based on the dates on the bottles.
post #22 of 38
True, once they leave our distributors who knows what they go through. Boy do I consider myself lucky then.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
In a word, No! Not for extra virgin olive oil. You're better buying properly bottled oil and storing it in a cool (50- to 57-degrees F.) dark place in unopened bottles. According to an article written about Bariani oil, "The oil keeps 18-24 months in good storage conditions (a cool and dark place) and the Barianis point out that 'our grandmother in Italy has had it for five years and it still tastes fresh.' "

It's my understanding that extra virgin olive oil does not do as well as regular olive oil in the cold confines of the refrigerator or freezer. I read that Harold McGee has written on the subject and I'm waiting to get clarification from him.
post #24 of 38
You can certainly order from Bariani, but it's kind of pricey with the postage. We ordered a 3-liter jug about six years ago, shortly after we discovered it in Walnut Creek, and it came to $60 delivered to Chicago.:suprise:

Mike
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post #25 of 38
Thread Starter 
Just curious - what oil can you get in Chicago that's comparble in quality to Bariani and what does it cost?
post #26 of 38
Shel-

I'm not that much of a EVOO guru - but we have liked TJ's "First Lady" brand of unfiltered Italian EVOO for between $6 and $7 for 1/2 liter.

Costco had a good Tuscan oil (their Kirkland brand) for around $13 for a liter, but it seems now to be out of season.

Mike
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post #27 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hi,

TJ's EVOO is usually a pretty good value. I don't recall if I had the First Lady - may have - but I did have The President (I think that's what it's called, but you know the one I mean). I'm just finishing up one of their Organic brands - they have two, this one's from Spain I liked it quite a bit - $7.00 for, I believe, 500ml (have to check the label). That's one I'll buy again and hope that it tastes about the same. There's a use-by date on the label - nice.

Edit: President's Choice!

I just can't bring myself to shop at Costco ... was inside twice when I went with friends - never bought anything though.
post #28 of 38
I just can't bring myself to shop at Costco ... was inside twice when I went with friends - never bought anything though.


What you got against Costco?

Mike
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post #29 of 38
Thread Starter 
Not just Costco - any of the big-box and big corporate stores: Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, Sams Club, Walmart, Barnes & Noble - I won't go into the details of why on the forum. If you'd like to know, I'll be happy to send you a private message.
post #30 of 38
I'm ironically flipping through my company's "latest" publication. A glossy mag called "WSJ."

It's a...almost gross magazine for the uber-rich (perhaps even the uber UBER rich)

In any case, Eric Ripert has a page (page 69) where he lists a few of his favorite things. Says he won't "cook" with Olive Oil, he won't heat it in a pan...here is his quote


"I don't like the smell of hot olive oil, so I never cook with it. I use it raw with salads but I don't heat it in a pan because the smell gets distorted and it's incredibly unpleasant. I'm a perfectionist and I'm obsessed with Sitia, a Greek olive oil. It's definitely one of the best on the market. The thing that's great is that it's floral, but not bitter or peppery, which can ruin an oil."

based on the other articles in the magazine (Gucci for dogs, maserati ad's), I expected it to be 1000000.000+2 dollars. but very reasonably priced.

Welcome to SitiaOnline ~ Sitia Extra Virgin Olive Oils from Greece

I was also surprised to hear he likes an 8$ decaf blend coffee, and drinks 4 diet cokes a day.


here is a link to the entire article
WSJ Magazine Eric Ripert
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