What is it? Olive Oil

Oh. Yes.  I love olive oil.  And I’m all fired up about it after reading “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil.”  Again, this is a super basic food to spotlight, but a very important one in my kitchen.  Knowing a bit about cooking oils is a good idea.  We use different cooking oils for different things — for frying, on salads, in sauces, and as flavorings.  I probably have half a dozen or more types of oil in my pantry at any given time.  One that’s always in my kitchen is good quality olive oil.   A few facts:

1. Olive oil is one of two commonly available oils made from fruit.  (the other is avocado oil)  Nearly all other oils are made from seeds.

2. Extra-virgin olive oil should be used on the cool side.  Though it’s not going to hurt you or your food to cook with extra virgin olive oil, the real stuff can be costly, and is best savored unheated or added at the last minute to warm dishes to retain the delicious peppery, grassy flavors it provides.

3. Olive oil is an ancient product.  For centuries it has been used as lamp oil, in religious rites, to clean and moisturize skin, and – of course – as a delicious food.  Very old olive trees can still bear quality fruit – even past the venerable age of 1500 years.

4. Olive oils tasting bars abound here in Northern California, often in the same areas where good wine is produced.  If you’re not sure what great oil tastes like, go try some.

Good olive oil will be green and smell and taste fresh, peppery, and subtly fruity.  Some great oils are unfiltered and cloudy, but most are clear.  Here’s an extra virgin olive oil from California Olive Ranch I recently purchased and am enjoying:

Simple olive oil recipe:

Olive Oil Sundae:  Top a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream with some extra virgin olive oil and perhaps a small sprinkle of salt (fleur de sel is a nice crunchy fancy salt to try).  This is a divine dessert, and will help you appreciate the greatness of extra virgin olive oil.

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