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where to buy good olive oil?

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I'm finally ready to splash out on a bottle of fine olive oil. Ideally, I'd like to be able to taste a few before making my selection. Any suggestions on where this might be possible in Toronto or Ottawa? Thanks.

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While I in no way claim to be an olive oil expert, Pusateri's on avenue road in toronto has an absolutely HUGE selection of olive oils, ranging from reasonably priced to waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my league.

They have a website at pusateri's.com

For the full selection make sure you go to the avenue road location as the yorkville one doesnt carry everything

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Indeed, Pusateri's has a large selection, including a regular tasting bar with a few open bottles. However, having purchased a few bottles myself there, (the prices are wide-ranging and go upwards of $50 for half a liter, if not more), don't assume that high price and fancy bottle means better olive oil necessarily. Italian producers have perfected the marketing of olive oil, and you will be disapointed with many of them. It's becoming more difficult to find a great value without being suckered in high prices.

I personally go hunting Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and from Lebanon because I like my olive oil "fruity smelling" and full flavor. If you see some sediments in the bottle, that's OK. It means it wasn't filtered according to modern techniques which take the fruityness out of it. The bottom of the bottle may give you some bitterness, but it is usually mild and acceptable.

Olive oil eventually becomes like trying wine; you're always trying the next best one, and what you think is great may not be for someone else. If you are used to paying $7-8 and you want a jump; go to $20 but after trying a few.

A note of tasting olive oil: you don't do it with bread, although that's what they offer you at Pusateri's. Do no taste it with the bread; you won't get its real flavor. You can dip the bread in the sampler, but smell it first and try to taste it without the bread.

Several Italian bakeries/grocers carry varieties of Italian olive oil. For other countries, you can go to the local ethnic areas such as Danforth, Victoria/Lawrence, College, etc...

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

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Where do you go oil hunting???

There is a wonderful middle eastern store called Nasr at Lawrence Av. East near Warden Av.

They have a very large selection of olive oils from the entire Mediterranean area. Even Lebanon and Jordan. No tasting that I could see, tho' olives can be tasted.

Remember the old adage about oil and wine purchases: Olive oil should be as fresh as possible, and wine should be aged!

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This thread aroused my curiosity about the price/quality issue. There is a good discussion of this in September Consumer Reports. They preferred two pricey Calif. oils at more than $50. per litre, but some much cheaper Euro oils were not far behind.

I don't think I'm ready for Pusateri's, so I headed to Costco and bought the cheapest and most expensive extra virgin olive oils they had: Bertolli 1st cold pressed at $5./litre with the in-store coupon, in a 3 l. jug (no date); and Kirkland Toscano 1st cold pressed, Dec. '03, at $17./litre. There were two other brands I did not buy.

This morning, after coffee, but before breakfast, I tasted both: I put 3T of each in two white bowls, and examined them. Both were green-gold but the Toscano was greener.

Both had a mild, fresh olive scent. The Bertolli was fruitier to taste, especially on the roof of my mouth. The Toscano was more pungent or peppery, especially on aftertaste.

But they were both very good, and the Toscano was difficult to justify by price.

If used in a salad or pasta with herbs, vinegar, or a sauce, the slight differences would be hard to discern.

Spending more, on the $50/litre bottles, would be a bad risk for me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've just purchased a bottle of organic oil from greece (malvasia?) from a fellow at the dufferin grove and riverdale markets.

it was 14$/L (with my own litre bottle) and I can't recommend it more highly. It is not particularly green - more golden coloured but the flavour is sharp and fresh and peppery. Not quite as spicy as I would ideally like but a tasty oil at a fair price.

"There never was an apple, according to Adam, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it"

-Neil Gaiman

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