Olive oil – I love it and use it for cooking, salad dressings, and over vegetables to add a little extra flavor. Several years ago I would have told you that it is all much the same. Yet since that time I have traveled to Europe and tried many different types of olive oils from many different regions – Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Much of the olive oil in the United States is a mix of blended olive oils from various locations, so tasters are unable to distinguish regional flavors. My advice is to investigate regional oils and compare them to your typical grocery store olive oil and the taste difference will astound you.
This month I’ve been sampling an Estate Grown Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil which comes from Greece (above). My whole living mind IS BLOWN. I have sautéed with it, used it as a salad dressing, and drizzled it over vegetables for several weeks now. The flavor is green and peppery with a hint of kalamata olive tang. The difference was more powerfully noticed when used raw and not heated.
Olive oils have experienced a bit of controversy lately due to disreputable companies marketing their products as higher quality than they actually are. If you truly want better tasting olive oil much like the olive oil I tried from Greece (I’ve named it “Nectar of the Gods”), I recommend you seek small estate grown olive oil companies which are reputable and have a name in the industry. This means you might pay a little more for a bottle, but will be well rewarded with a full flavored, authentic, and 100% natural taste. How can you tell the difference? Do a taste test — set out a plate and pour any cheap grocery olive oil on a raw vegetable, then use Greek olive oil on another raw vegetable and compare flavors. There is a clear taste difference – the kalamata will stand out as far more flavorful.
Greek olive oil is delicious, is incredibly healthy for you, and is the only olive oil which can be labeled with the fresh, green handpicked Koroneiki – or Kalamata – olive name. My favorite treat with Greek olive oil is a snack I make (below) with hummus drizzled with kalamata olive oil and served with carrots. Crunchy, spicy, and delicious. Give it a try!
Special thanks to HomerLaughlin.com for their wonderful white ramekin and blue dish in the above photos. Aren’t they lovely? And absolutely the perfect way to set off the delicious Greek olive oil.