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Shiva

Olive Oil Questions, Options, Favorites

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I'm looking for a good quality, affordable olive oil for general cooking.  It should be flavorful, moderately priced, and available at a decent supermarket.

There are plenty of different brands on the shelf.  Which ones are your favorites?

I'm not looking for 'Shop-O-Rama Olive Oil Lite', nor am I looking for ุ/fl. oz. oil cold pressed by barefooted Albanian midgets only during full moons if you get my drift.

Thanks In Advance,

Shiva

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My current default olive oil is Davinci Extra Virgin.  Good color and flavor.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I have been surprised at the quality of the bulk extra virgin olive oil at whole-foods supermarket.  Most of the whole-foods markets do such high volume business, their inventory turnover is excellent and the oil is usually very fresh.

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I use two different types of olive oil for everyday cooking (and for those other days, too)....

#1

For cooking (and uses where the oil’s flavor isn’t a big issue), I use Trader Joe’s extra virgin, which costs about Ŭ/liter. This is the default oil in my kitchen...I usually don’t have any other vegetable oils on hand, and it seems to work fine for anything that needs to be cooked in oil as well as for recipes that call for the addition of oil as the primary fat. It’s not too strongly flavored, but I don’t think the flavor of olive oil is really detrimental to anything I cook. Trader Joe’s is, I believe, located only in western states, so look for something in the same price range.

I’ve also used Bertolli extra virgin that I could buy at the local Mega-Lo-Mart (aka Costco) for about the same price. I’d recommend trying a few of the less expensive oils available in your area to find one that you like.

The key is to use extra virgin oil....other grades have olive oil have been extracted from the first pressing paste using high heat and solvents, so they lack the healthful benefits of olive oil (and may contain some residual from the chemical additives).

#2

For flavor, I use mostly the oil I import (from Michelin 3-star Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890 on the northern edge of the Amalfi Coast...more about that at my web site: www.realgoodfood.com), but also other ‘estate’ quality extra virgins from other regions that use different olive cultivars so the flavor is different. I drizzle this on almost everything, but only after it’s cooked.

Once olive oil is heated over about 180 F, the volatile flavor elements start to disappear, so it’s a waste of money to use the good stuff in anything that’s going to be cooked very much at all.


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I'll concur with Jim Dixon on the Bertolli. Also, if you have a Whole Foods supermarket near you, their 365 brand olive oil is also a very good generic virgin for cooking, as is their balsamic vinegar di modena, which won some awards recently.

Jim's specialty oil from Don Alfonso is also really awesome stuff, and well worth it at the price he's selling it at. I'm almost done with my second bottle and I'll have to order some more from him soon. However I wouldnt cook with it, its so emerald green and such a good first pressing that I would only use this with salads, for dipping or for streaming over already cooked pasta.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The best cheap olive oil I've found is the product from Lucca sold at Teitel Brothers grocery on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. A close second is Fairway's house label. These are so satisfactory that I often use them in salad dressings and even occasionally for dipping bread. In general, with these cheaper olive oils, provided they are extra virgin and meet certain basic standards of flavor, I think the critical factors are freshness and how well they have been handled. Both Teitel Brothers and Fairway have massive and continuous turnover, and that surely helps.

I don't, however, use olive oil for all my cooking. I don't even use it for much cooking. I basically use it only when it is required for authenticity, such as in some Mediterranean recipes where they just don't taste right with any other oil. But grapeseed oil is what I use most often, and it is my oil of choice when flavor neutrality is desired, such as when browning meat, as it has an extremely high smoke point and barely affects the flavor of food. I prefer to cook with grapeseed and drizzle high quality olive oil on the finished food if appropriate. For frying (be it deep frying, stir frying, or whatever) I almost always go with peanut oil. Many chefs will tell you peanut oil is best, but many restaurants choose not to use it because of the risk that a customer might have a peanut allergy. I also keep some canola oil around, which I use mostly for popping popcorn (it seems to give an almost buttery flavor to popcorn) and for applications where so much oil is required that it would be prohibitive to use anything else.

Just a quick note: There are plenty of Trader Joe's markets in the East. Just in the past few weeks I've been to one in Westfield, NJ, and another near Fairfield, CT. Take a look at http://www.traderjoes.com/tj/locations/ for locations


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I second Jim's suggestion regarding the Trader Joe's brand, and I prefer their "President's Reserve" label.  It's only ũ more per litre, and there is a noticeable difference.  I've subjected friends and family to "tastings" of everyday oils and even the least discerning eaters have detected the better flavor.  

Trader Joe's has migrated to the east coast -- I know it's in the Boston, NY and Washington, DC areas at least, and in the Chicago area.  

(Edited by Terrie at 5:11 pm on Sep. 19, 2001)

(Edited by Terrie at 12:10 am on Sep. 20, 2001)

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Having tried a few, I think “San Giuliano” (from Alghero, Sardinia, I think) extra virgin is very good for everyday use. Very reasonably priced too. Look out for green bottle that has bulbous upper half.

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For years we have used Tiger brand pure olive oil from Lucca for all sauteing.  Echoing Steven, we use extra virgin as a condiment (dressings, dipping, drizzling) but not for cooking per se.  Tiger brand is a neutral flavored oil, and is very reasonable and a huge seller at traditional neighborhood Italian markets.  We are now paying around ป-12. for a 3 litre can, and since we buy a case of four cans, they also give us a 10% discount on top: almost free.

I have to admit that I'm a bit of a whore when it comes to extra virgin olive oils.  I will buy whatever is delicious when I find it at a tasting.  We also buy a lot of local EVOO at our local farmer's market.  

Tangentially, Nick Sciabica in Modesto, CA makes and bottles some very interesting varietals.  Sevillano, which is floral and excellent for dipping; Manzanilla, which is fruity, and Mission, which is so light and neutral that is perfect for both sweet and savory baking, as well as three augmented extractions in which he cold-presses lemons, oranges or jalapenos along with his olives to create very interesting flavored oils.  While I have never been a big fan of flavored oils, his citrus oils are extraordinary when drizzled on fish prior to roasting, or as a simple dressing on mesclun or arugula with only the addition of salt and pepper.  


eGullet member #80.

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We've been buying olive oils at DiPalo's on Grand Street in NYC. We use a 100% Pure Olive Oil from DiCarli brothers as our cooking oil and when we don't want a lot of olive taste. For ease and freshness, we buy it in the one liter bottle. Colavita is a more widely distributed brand and it's okay as well.

We also keep a bottle of Extra Virgin open at all times. I'd like to keep several, but even in summer whan we're having more salads it seems reasonable to ensure freshness by having only one bottle of EV open at a time. DiPalo usually has a few recommneded oils in an open bottle and will offer tastes. The current bottle on our shelves is from Sicily. It'a a Novello from the Fontanansalsa Farm in Trapani, Sicily.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The Food Network recently had a show all about an extra virgin olive oil from sicily, Ravida, thats been getting a lot of awards of late. Anyone try this stuff? Its like ำ a bottle!

http://www.demedici.com/Products/Ravida/default.htm

O&CO in NYC seems to have their own 16oz pacakges of this for ศ

http://usa.oliviersandco.com/browse.cfm/4,479,1,8,41.html


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Can you tell me what king of extra virgin olive oil you use?

There are so many, made by so many people.  With many being great.  I would like to taste different ones.  

My favorite is the Terra Bormane Taggiashe.

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Can you tell me what kind of extra virgin olive oil you use?

There are so many, made by so many people.  With many being great.  I would like to taste different ones.  

My favorite is the Terra Bormane Taggiashe.

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I just brought home another quart bottle of the Whole Foods olive oil today, and for the second bottle in a row, the cap broke as I was opening it.  The threads get stripped enough that you have to yank on it while opening it or grind your hand against it while closing.  I'm going to complain to them;  has anyone else had this problem?


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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In the interests of "full disclosure," I should note that sometimes we buy DiCarli's extra virgin olive oil and sometimes we buy the 100% olive oil. There's a bit more flavor in the EV, but the price differential is not that great. Both may be used for cooking and general purpose when you don't want too much olive oil flavor.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I agree with Jason about the Whole Foods Olive Oil.  It's good.  It's cheap.  It's good and cheap.  Well you get the idea.

Mamster:  nope... never stripped a cap.

BTW: Whole Foods has various names for different locations.  I've seen it called "Fresh Fields" "Bread & Circuses" and "Whole Foods Market".


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Quote: from yvonne johnson on 6:20 pm on Sep. 20, 2001

Having tried a few, I think “San Giuliano” (from Alghero, Sardinia, I think) extra virgin is very good for everyday use. Very reasonably priced too. Look out for green bottle that has bulbous upper half.

Hey, I've been using S. Giuliano for a long time (among others, actually). Here in Italy one liter costs about Ŭ. How much do you pay for it?


In vino veritas

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I just got the Rare Wine Co.'s annual nuovo olive oil mailing, which means that by the end of the week they'll be sold out. If you're interested in serious olive oil, you should act right away:

http://rarewineco.com/home.html

The inventory isn't listed on the site yet. The thing to do is just call and order whatever is available.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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was at the williams and sonama store yesterday sipping and dipping in their olive oil selection. i found some that were peppery, fruity, one that was downright disgusting (tasted strongly of fish oil), different weights, from all over europe. is it all personal preference? i really wanted to buy a bottle, but didn't know if i was going to make a wrong choice...

mike

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This post is very informative about Olive Oil

Olive oil is like wine in the sense that the variety of olive used, the technology used in production and the place where it is grown determine the style and flavors of the final product.

Here is a good overview of olive oil

and here


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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so if olive oil is like wine, then it really does come down to personal preference, right?

mike

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so if olive oil is like wine, then it really does come down to personal preference, right? 

mike

Like everything else on the planet.

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A couple of things to look for on the label:

Year of harvest...good extra virgin olive oil can be stored for up to a couple of years, but it's really best if consumed within a year or 18 months of harvest (in the Mediterranean, harvest occurs in Oct-Nov). If there's a "best used by" date, this is usually 18-24 months after harvest, at least for Italian oils.

Polyphenol content...pretty rare to find this on the label, but sometimes..expressed as mg/kg, higher numbers like 100-400 mean the oil will have a taste most often described as "peppery." The sensation is actually a chemical irritation and is called pungency is olive oil tasting...it's similar to the heat of chiles, which is also a chemical irritation from capsacin...so it can be a desirable thing.

You may also see 'acidity' which is really the percent of free fatty acids, not the acid level. For extra virgin oils it has to be under 1%, but most people, including me, are hard pressed to taste any differences between 0.8 and 0.2%

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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Never tasted any olive oil at Williams Sonoma that wasn't nearly rancid. Overpriced, to boot. I wouldn't buy it there if you have any other sources at all. You can sometimes find decent, relatively fresh olive oil at Marshalls (yes, the discount clothing store), of all places. You can't taste it, but the dates on the bottles do help a little.

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It is definitely a personal taste. But there are different uses for fruity vs. peppery. I like the fruity oils raw on top of anything basically. The peppery ones i will cut sometimes with regular oil if making a dressing say. Get a big solo taste of a real peppery oil and it could send you into one of those coughing fits.

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