Selecting the perfect olive oil
by Tracey Ceurvels
It’s the ingredient that launches a million dishes, whether it’s within a salad dressing or the basis of a stew, whether it’s the fat in which you sear salmon or the oil you add to a cake.
But with so many options—extra virgin, first pressed or hand pressed, Spain, Italy, Greece, the South of France—it can get confusing, right? Just as wine has different varieties, flavor, aroma and so on, so do olive oils. But with the carefully handpicked oils at Dean & DeLuca there certainly aren’t any bad choices, yet certain oils shine best in different situations.
I tend to use the absolute best olive oils (first pressed and hand pressed) for salad dressings, which means I’d opt for the Frantoio Oleario Muraglia “Intenso” if I were making a simple olive oil based dressing with herbs and garlic. But honestly, this oil is so flavorful you may want to let it shine on its own and simply drizzle it over greens as is. From the same family, the Frantoio Oleario Muraglia “Delicato” EVOO comes in a green earthenware jug and is another winner.The Olio Verde Novello 2010 is another star. This unfiltered and first pressed oil is packed with flavor and needs no extra ingredients.
Do you like to dip crusty bread into your olive oil? Then opt for Il boschetto arrabbiata dipping oil from Italy, which is infused with chile peppers, capers and oregano. Grill some sourdough bread and you have an hors d’oeuvre without much effort. Or for dipping oil with less pizzazz than the arrabbiata (which means angry in Italian) but no less flavor, two classic ingredients are infused into the basil and garlic olive oil.
If you’re looking for an exceptional oil for everyday cooking, the Full Moon extra virgin olive oil from Spain is an excellent choice. Made with olives that are picked during a full moon in October when they’re apparently at their peak, Full Moon is a sublime everyday olive oil. Plus, the packaging is unique, making it a great gift. Another great choice is the Nunez de Prado: full-flavored and fruity it’s a perfect addition to your kitchen.
Tasting different oils and using them in a variety of dishes is a fun way to experiment in the kitchen. Do you have a favorite olive oil? Or a favorite way to enjoy olive oil? Tell us in the comments below.
NYC-based food writer Tracey Ceurvels is a busy writer-mom-food lover who blogs about dining in + out at The Busy Hedonist. She offers busy food lovers an easy + convenient dinner plan of fresh, seasonal dishes with weekly menus + shopping lists. Tracey’s articles about food + travel have appeared in The Boston Globe, Haute Living, PAPER, The New York Daily News, Time Out New York among other publications. Stay tuned for her iPhone App launching soon called iFoodShop: A Food Lover’s Guide to Shopping in NYC.