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Aug 16, 2007 12:31 PM

Any preferred *brands* of olive oil here ?

Just curious.....

Testing some recipes for this Sat's BBQ

Ciabatta grilled with Stonehouse Garlic Olive Oil and Roasted Tomatoe Mixture.
Topped it off with Buffalo Mozzarella and some Prosciutto.

I plan to just make a bunch of these as quick appetizers..

Tell me more about olive oil ?
I tend to just buy what I can taste at the *stores* but there plenty of bottles that I have not *tasted* on the shelves as well.

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  1. I love Bariani Olive Oil. It's available at Whole Foods.

    Speaking of, I just read an interested article about adulterated olive oil in the New Yorker:

    5 Replies
    1. re: citygrrl

      Ditto Bariani. Their orchards aren't too far from my house, and elder statesmen of the family routinely man their booths at local farmers markets in Sacramento, providing those who took Italian in college with a rare opportunity to mangle the language.

      The standard EVOO is a very good unfiltered Tuscan take on the stuff. And some of their "special" oils are very interesting, though they may be an acquired taste. The '04 late harvest, bottled in Summer '05, had a fairly intense bitter black pepper note that I grew to love, but that nobody in my family enjoyed. Ah, well, more for me...

      1. re: alanbarnes

        Put me squarely in your family's camp. I don't think the Tuscan version is the standard, and neither do my friends from Tuscany who do mail order purchases of olive oil from Liguria for cooking/eating.

        I can't get past the sting -- what you're calling the bitter black pepper note. I learned something interesting about that sting. Apparently, the fall rainy season begins in Tuscany before the olives are fully ripe. Therefore, as an practical economic move, Tuscan oliver growers decided to harvest the crop early. That under-ripe condition produces the characteristic bite.

        When this change in harvesting took place, the new version of Tuscan oil was resoundingly rejected and sales went down. What to do? Market the bite as a virtue -- the flavor profile of a true Tuscan oil. Sales skyrocketed.

        1. re: Indy 67

          Just to be clear--the standard Bariani oil does not have the bite you're talking about. It's grassy and olive-y and smooth, with just a hint of bitterness in the finish. Were it not for caloric constraints, I would drink it by the teacup with good bread on the side.

          The "late harvest" oil was somthing that Signor Bariani indicated was a little different. I'm confused as to why a late harvest oil would have the "sting" you ascribe to UNDER-ripe olives, but hey, I just eat the stuff.

      2. re: citygrrl


        ....what can I say; other than, that I'm a Williams-Sonoma nut!?

        1. re: citygrrl

          have you tried Vida Oliva Organic Olive Oil. It has an excellent taste and fantastic health benefits. I tried it in Carmel and I know that is in many stores througout california

        2. I really like a brand called Olio Carli - it's available at a great price at Di Palo's in Manhattan - if you don't see it ask them - it's sometimes hidden away. For everyday cooking I often use the WF 365 brand.

          I also find that the Costco Kirkland brand is surprisingly good.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            I have wondered about the costco olive oil. Is it tasty enough to drizzle on salads or dip bread into or is it more of the cooking quality?

            1. re: jrmd

              It is tastier than you would think - I tend to use it to cook with, but if I don't have anything else around (rare), it's fine in a salad dressing in a pinch.

              1. re: jrmd

                The standard Costco evoo is best for general cooking but works well in seasoned and emulsified salad dressings. I prefer something better for dipping and salads with a straight oil or simple vinaigrette. Costco carries an estate bottled evoo at around $12. I used to use another brand that was about 3x as much and the costco estate OO is just as good.

                  1. re: jrmd

                    Costco has two EVOOs that I know about. One is the Kirkland first cold pressed in a 2-liter plastic bottle. I use that for cooking. It's not a wonderful, fruity oil, but it is totally acceptable.

                    Then they have a Toscano EVOO in a 1-liter bottle. It has a dated harvest (mine says October/Novermber 2007) and, while it's not the best I have ever tasted, it's pretty darn god for the price. I would be more likely to use it as a topping or in a vinaigrette.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    A big second on Olio Carli. I've used it for years; love it. And it's only about $7 at Central Market in Texas.

                  3. The region of the country you are in will determine what brands are available to you. So, rather than focus too much on brands, I can offer a few general tips on selecting olive oil: look for a rich green color that is somewhat cloudy. The bottle should note the type of olive used (one type is better than a mix), and state that the olives all came from a specific place. Note the dates- there should be two of them, one informing you of when the oil was produced, and the other is an expiration date. You want to buy and use the oil well before the expiration date, for optimal freshness. I refuse to buy a bottle of oil that expires within 6-8 months. This may seem overly picky, but once you start paying attention to these details, you realize how many fresh options there are out there, and that it makes a big difference. As far as production technique, look for the phrase, "first cold pressed", or something along those lines. Oil that is in a darker glass bottle will keep fresh longer, as it blocks the heat and light of the sun (much like wine bottles). However, I am always hesitant to recommend that a person require this, because there are so many excellent olive oils produced around the world that, for some reason, use clear glass bottles instead.
                    Spain, France, Italy, and Greece make the vast majority of the olive oil out there. You can also buy Californian, South American, etc., but I never have, so I won't comment on it. French is good, but most of the French olive oil I have seen here in NY has been grossly, absurdly expensive. I do not know why. I have yet to try a Spanish olive oil that really knocks my socks off. Then again, I haven't really gone in search of one-- if I did, I bet I would find it. I like Greek olive oil very much, when it is made to a high standard. I have never cooked with it, but I have used it on salads and in other raw forms (such as in appetizers, brushed on bruschetta, etc.) As far as origins of olive oil go, I prefer Italian to all others. It is also the type that I know the most about. Italian olive oil does not have to be from Tuscany to be good! Tuscan oil generally is milder, and is often very refined. Milder still, Ligurian olive oil. If you like something with more of a bite, try Pugliese. The richest oil, in my opinion, with the strongest olive taste, is Sicilian. Good luck exploring the world of olive oil. I hope this helps! If you want to talk brands, may I suggest that you list a few that you are considering and we can take it from there?

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                      I have a great Spanish one for you - from Despana - will look at the name and post.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        great article about the olive oil bidness in the new yorker:


                        1. re: MMRuth

                          It's made with unfiltered Arbequina Olives, made in Andalusia by Castillo de Canena. The bottle is 16.8 oz and cost $17. Definitely an oil that I use in salads and for drizzling.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Thanks, MMRuth! I will give it a try.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              My favorites are Andalusian and unfiltered. I have had good luck with any I have bought.

                          2. re: vvvindaloo

                            When I'm not sure what to get, I always go for Sicilian, it's never disappointing.

                            1. re: coll

                              In the last year and a half, I have also discovered Kalamata olive oil which has been consistently good. The last can I got at the regular grocery store, it almost looked like a can of motor oil which freaked out my husband when he saw me pouring it into a salad. Yeah times are rough but not THAT bad!

                            2. re: vvvindaloo

                              I'm sorry to disagree with you, but color and cloudiness have absolutely nothing to do with the taste or quality of olive oil. Some of the California first cold pressed are very nice and stack up to the best European oils. You might also consider oils from Chile and Australia; I've had some exceptional ones and since they press roughly six months after the Europeans, you can get novello in the middle of the northern hemisphere winter.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Dissent is most welcome! Cloudy olive oils are unfiltered and unmodified, which I trust as markers of qualities that I prefer. As far as my previous post, I am pretty sure that I wrote only about oils that I know well, and therefore did not comment on New World oils. I do plan to give California oils a try, though, someday when I am cooking a more "American" dish that calls for it.

                                1. re: vvvindaloo

                                  There are some boutique American oils that you'd swear are Italian (really, really good Italian). I think if you were to do a blind-tasting, you would find that you could not tell what color (or cloudiness) an oil was. I actually did this at an olive-oil tasting party I hosted two years ago for 60 people. No one could guess accurately. And I mean not one.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    I am intrigued by this blind oil tasting... I went to an oil tasting once, but it was definitely a "sales event", and I sensed where the cards were stacked right away, so to speak. Tell me about your party: what exactly where the guests trying to guess? origin? olive type? I am curious. Thanks

                                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                                      I ordered oils from many sources on the Internet. My intention was to expose all of my food-loving friends to the myriad wonders of olive oil. The blind-tasting was merely to satisfy my own curiosity. I'd done a lot of research, and it was pretty clear that experts agreed on color/cloudiness having nothing to do with taste. I wanted to see if they were correct. We blind-folded half the group, while the other half supplied the sips of oil, then switched places. The outcome was extremely clear. We then tasted the different oils with different foods (bread, fish, salad greens, beef carpaccio, white beans, pasta with garlic, etc. The biggest surprise to me was how differently the oils were rated, depending on which food they were eaten with. The oil that was least-favored when tasted staight or with bread, came out way on top when paired with beans, carmelized onions, and Gorgonzola. This might have been the best party I've ever thrown -- we all had a great time, and learned a lot.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        Thanks for the description, it does sound like fun. Personally, I do find that I like oils with stronger, fresher raw olive taste, and therefore I only buy unfiltered oils (they inclide some "mosto", or olive juice in them, as well as some sediment)... are there any unfiltered oils that you recommend? In any case, which oils came out on top, overall, at your event?

                                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                                          A Portuguese oil was the favorite. Unfortunately, the only way you're going to get some is by going to Portugal . (A friend brought me a bottle.) My current favorite is an unfiltered Spanish oil -- Valderrama. It's a gorgeous yellow color, and has an amazingly complex flavor.

                              2. re: vvvindaloo

                                I usually prefer Spanish oils. Personal preference, I guess.

                                SilverTree, from Australia, is quite nice.

                              3. I get "Beirut" brand at Kalustyan's....It's lebanese (duh), very green, comes in huge sizes...very very good for a go-to everyday olive oil....

                                Zoe, from Spain, is a much lighter style & also very good.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: fauchon

                                  I love Frantoia. (Italian). My second choice is Lucini. There is also
                                  a big article in either this week or last week's New Yorker on some
                                  of the shenanigans that take place in olive oil labeling and classing.

                                  1. re: KayMae

                                    I must have missed that article, but I'm definitely going to look it up... Frantoia is my mother's favorite, and one of mine, as well.

                                    1. re: KayMae

                                      OK, so I read the article... and I am sorry to say that I am only a little bit surprised. In my line of work, I deal with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act quite a bit, as well as food producers and import and export laws, and this sort of fraud is pretty common across the board- not only in Italy. Hopefully, this type of flagrant adulteration and mislabeling of olive oil is a thing of the past- as Americans get more sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to olive oil and its production, as I think they certainly have since the 1990's, they will know what to look for, how it should taste, smell, etc., and be more savvy when it comes to language re: origin. As an aside, I tend to avoid brands such as Colavita and Bertolli, as they are mass-produced oils of varying origin and methods, and, more importantly, I have never really liked how they taste. A good rule of thumb is to stick to smaller, local producers that make clear, outright statements of quality on their labels.

                                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                                        I was shocked by the replacement of olive oil with nut oils. You would think with all the people with nut allergies, this would have caused many attacks, deaths and/or lawsuits by now if it was as prevalent as the article makes it sound. Thank you.

                                        1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                                          Allergies are triggered by nut proteins, not fats. People with peanut allergies, for example, can eat peanut oil or french fries fried in it.

                                          1. re: aynrandgirl

                                            I wouldn't be too sure about that. Setting off anaphylactic shock is too serious a consequence to gamble on. Surely you've read the disclaimers on packaged foods that discloses that the food has been made on machines that touch nuts, dairy, soy, and other allergens? Surely you read about the girl that *died* because a peanut-butter eating boyfriend kissed her?

                                            Most people with nut allergies restrict anything even *remotely* related to stay safe - moisturizers, sun screens and other topical skin products with nut oils, other types of nuts, etc.

                                            I am no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that peanut oil touches peanut protein at some point or another.

                                    2. re: fauchon

                                      I've seen this "Beirut" brand in Trade Fair in Queens and have been very curious, but hesitant to buy due to the huge size it comes in. Can you describe the flavor a bit more? Does it carry a strong olivey flavor to match its strong color?

                                      1. re: RasLilaNYC

                                        it's cloudy, strong tasting and has delightful herb flavors to it. mostly thyme. Thyme and evoo are a heavenly combination. hehehe. i moved a year ago and can't find that brand anymore. dunno what to do.
                                        you do have to filter it. I use a coffee filter for that and transfer the oil into a dark colored wine bottle and two perrier bottles for ease of use.

                                    3. You appear to be in NYC so I'll mention that the house brand at Fairway Market is excellent. They also have a wide range of regional olive oils under their own name and, at least at the Red Hook, Brooklyn store, you can sample all of them. You can read their promo bumf here:

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: inuksuk

                                        I second that - it's been a while since I've bought any, but they have a great selection.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Fairway's house brand olive oil is wonderful....and a bargain

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            I've been using their Baena DOC and the Kalamata - both are excellent and very reasonably priced.

                                          2. re: inuksuk

                                            second that (or third it, whatever). I love Fairway's regular olive oil for most everyday uses. I buy their Barbera Sicilian for drizzling -- it's got a fantastic peppery bite to it and works really well on fresh mozzarella and also on salads.

                                            at the 74th st. store, you can taste their line-up of regional olive oils too.

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              I LOVED the Barbera olive oil, thanks for the reminder as I'll be stopping at Fairway in about a month and have a shopping list going.