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Olive Oil Recommendations?

Hi, I need some good Olive oil that preferably won't break the bank but is good, flavorful oil that could be used to finish dishes like pastas, salads, etc. I guess I'm looking for what they might use in a restaurant that adds that extra bit of flavor.
I bought a bottle of Zei from St. Lawrence Market on recommendation of one of the shop owners there but was very underwhelmed!

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  1. You should try Spartan Rolling Hills olive oil from Greece. I use it myself.

    http://www.spartanrollinghills.com/

    1. For finishing salads and where I am really going to taste the olive oil (not heating), I buy Olearia San Giorgio Sarafino Virgin Olive Oil. It's about $25 or so for 750ml but used where it should be it lasts a long time. Like any good olive oil should have as a prerequisite, it is in a dark glass bottle, has an expiry date, serial # and other important identifying information. It has a really great taste and I feel it is worth the money. I found out about it and the importers based in Toronto after reading an article in the Globe & Mail. I like that the guys importing this olive oil have connections to the producer, they are passionate about the product, take time to educate people and often appear locally around Toronto to present their product in stores. They have 4 different types from the same farm. Here's a great article about their olive oil and just olive oil in general that is a good short education about what to look for.

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

      19 Replies
      1. re: Flexitarian

        That is a great price if the oil is good. I stopped buying Italian EVO as it was getting hard to find a decent one at a reasonable price, and there seem so be more bad ones than good. Now I look for Greek oils. The oil I buy from Rolling Hills is around the same price as what you mention. The owner of the olive grove (or his friend) is often at Fresh From The Farm on a Saturday, sampling the oils and olives.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          Yeah, I'm definitely looking for something for taste, and not for heating. Something to give dishes that little finish that theyre sometimes missing.

          1. re: spartanrollinghills

            Would it be amazing because you represent it?

          2. re: Flexitarian

            That is an excellent olive oil. I purchased this several times. It has wonderful fresh grassy notes, and you can taste the difference when you make salad dressing with it. A little goes a long way.

            1. re: Whiskey sour

              Which of the two are you recommending?

              1. re: Nocontact

                Olearia San Giorgio Sarafino Virgin Olive Oil.

            2. re: Flexitarian

              This is my everyday finishing olive oil (I use their virgin olive oil for cooking) and it is excellent. Wonderful peppery notes (a result of a high level of polyphenols, which is a sign of its quality).

              As a country, I find Spain to produce my favourite olive oils (e.g. Pons estate, ParqueOliva).

                1. re: Nocontact

                  Olearia San Giorgio extra virgin for everyday finishing oil (e.g. salad dressing) and I use their virgin oil for cooking. When I want to "up" my oil, I use the spanish.

                    1. re: BDD888

                      Fiesta Farms has it.

                      I use a lot of the virgin one at work, works great as a finishing.

                      I also like Frantoia a lot, also available at Fiesta.

                      I'm interested to try this company that sells 3 brands in Fiesta. They're always grouped together. Morgantino, Sella Orlando, Mio Bambino. Alas they're ungoogleable.

                      1. re: aser

                        i prefer the fruitier tasting kind of olive oil to the grassy tasting kind. which Olearia would be this? or some other brand? (i live right near fiesta farms)

                        1. re: aser

                          Yes. Frantoia is my go-to. Some Loblaws carry it.

                  1. re: Apprentice

                    About three weeks ago, 'Olive.Olive', who specializes in Spanish Olive Oil had a 'special promotion' of over a dozen brand/style...etc in the Richmond Hill Costco. Very good price!

                  2. re: Flexitarian

                    The Olearia San Giorgio Sarafino Extra Virgin *Monocultivar* really stands out :)

                    1. re: Flexitarian

                      Where can I find this oil? Would love to try it.

                      1. re: SNACKeR

                        It's available at City Fish Market. 2929 Dufferin St. (at Lawrence Ave. W.) 416-256-7373, but I've seen it around at many different stores in the city (that I can't remember right).

                    2. You can get perfectly good, "First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin " Greek (Hermes) olive oil for $ 16 for a Three Litre can from Massellis Supermarket. North side of Danforth, West of Donlands. Excellent for salads. It does not come in a fancy package, however.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: AzulH

                        With all due respect, I cannot fathom how $5.33/litre olive oil, in a can nonetheless (with the added taste that can impart), can be of decent quality. Take out the cost of the can, retailer, distributor, importer and exporter overheads, transportation costs, etc and there is not much money left for the producer to create a quality olive oil out of.

                        1. re: Flexitarian

                          All I can suggest is that you try a blind tasting, you might be surprised!
                          For example, the number of times that Segura Viudas is rated more highly than non-vintage Champagne in blind tasting by cognoscente of Champagne, who often start their sentences with the patronising phrase "with all due respect..." is quite remarkable, and the price differential is about 4X

                          1. re: AzulH

                            I have blind tasted olive oil and have yet to taste one for the price you are paying taste as good as one for 5x+ the price. You might want to read this article from the Toronto Star today wherein it outlines how companies doctor olive oil so they can sell is for the $5.33/litre price you are paying for it. Note the quote that 'the biggest culprits are six big Spanish and Portuguese bottling companies, which have driven down the price of olive oil to about 1.80 euro per litre — an “impossible” low price. Five years ago, it would have cost 5 euro.' So, you might not want to be so smug and do a little more thinking before commenting. The article also references and entire book that investigates the shady business of subpar olive oil.

                            The article is here:

                            http://www.thestar.com/news/world/art...

                            1. re: Flexitarian

                              I had read the article with interest, and thank you for posting it for others to read. The article indicated that the Canadian authorities might be more vigilant in their testing to ensure that the claims of the various olive oils were accurate.
                              In your blind scramble to appear all knowing and as you say 'smug' you failed to note that the Hermes oil I invited Chowhounders to sample, without prejudice, was neither Portuguese nor Spanish but Greek.

                              1. re: AzulH

                                Please excuse me for butting in here, but I've been following this thread with some interest, and found a couple of things online I'd like to share.

                                Assuming this is the same product mentioned by AzulH, Hermes is imported by Krinos, and is listed in the following link. You'll notice that all their other oils are stated to be Greek, but Hermes is claimed only to be from the Aegean. It's possibly Turkish, then, but I have no idea. If it is, that might help explain the low price point.

                                http://www.krinos.ca/products.asp?cat...

                                Hermes has been caught adulterating its olive oil in the past:

                                http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFam...

                                One would hope they've cleaned up their act since then. Having said all this, however, I would agree with AzulH that you can't know how good a product tastes unless you've tried it yourself.

                                1. re: 5secondrule

                                  Many thanks for your very good additional research. Interestingly, they have even backed off "Aegean" and replaced it with " Mediterranean" ( so it could even come from those villians of the piece, Portugal & Spain!!)

                                  1. re: AzulH

                                    Sure...or Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with the olives from those regions.

                                2. re: AzulH

                                  AzulhH: Just because my views may differ from yours does not mean that you need to claim that I think I am 'all knowing'. I certainly don't and am always willing to learn. for sure though, I know way more about the olive oil that I buy than if I bought what you suggest and that's because the producer cares to let me know on the pacakge. And, as the article says, the biggest (not necessarily the 'only') culprits are Spanish and Portuguese. As such there was no need for me to point that out as it pretty obvious the writer was not restricting his observation to only those two countries. Culprits can exist geographically anywhere as can top quality purveyors.

                                  As for the olive oil from Massellis Supermarket that you are urging us to try, the presence of 'fancy packaging' is irrelevant and nowhere did I suggest such fancy packaging is necessary, The point is whether enough 'information 'is printed on the bottle to determine its provenance and be informed of indicia of it's quality, as I noted above. None of these appear to be evident on the olive oil you suggested, even though it could very easily be printed on the container, nor is the olive oil even Greek as you have claimed. It is telling that a company that neglects to put much information on their unfancy packaging has also been caught adultering their oil in the past. This all makes the olive oil highly sus.

                        2. The Spice Trader (with it's onsite subsidiary call The Olive Pit) at Queen/Walnut has a whole range of olive oils ... while some are very pricey, they also have several reasonably priced "house" choices ... and you can sample a dozen before making your final choice, so you won't get home and find yourself underwhelmed ...

                          1. As odd as this may seem, I've been buying and using the EVOO sold at the Terroni restaraunts. Its got great flavour and spiciness and its only $15 a 750 ml bottle.
                            Its the one they use so I figure if its good enough for them its good enought for me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. If you have a costco card they have the one liter bottle of organic oil that has passed all the tests, there are a lot of problem getting real olive oil that has not been cut with hazelnut oil. If you scroll down this document shows the brand names they tested. http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/news-e...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Shapeup1

                                According to that study, Shapeup1, the Costco Organic EVOO is a great deal. It's unfortunately bottled in clear plastic which certainly won't enhance it's longevity. It's also a 1.5 litre bottle. The one that I have at home here indicates that it uses oils from Italy, Spain and Portugal.
                                Have you tried the Kirkland brand Toscano olive oil? I prefer it for salads etc., but I also like the Organic EVOO.

                              2. We use the Spartan Rolling Hills oil as well as the Villa Zottopera oil. The Villa Zottopera is about twice as expensive as the Spartan Rolling Hills. Both are very good. We use the Villa Zottopera for finishing and sometimes for cooking. It gives a wonderfully green and fragrant touch. Seems to really enhance the flavours of everything it touches. It's imported by Lugano Fine Foods, and available at Alimento on King St.

                                1. There are a few places in town where you can buy 'bulk'. I tasted the oil at Alimento at 522 King and it was very user-friendly. The Cheese Boutique usually has two or three different 'house' oils available - sometimes Turkish, Greek, Italian. If you have access to a car or are ok with long ttc rides try Highland Farms for a really great selection of moderately good-quality oils. They usually have one or two on sale and have a decent selection of vinegars et al. I use less-expensive oil to cook with, moderately expensive oil for salads etc ($15-20) and a few bottles of really good stuff for 'eating'.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Captain Maplesyrup

                                    A discussion of what oil to use for olive oil ice cream and gelato has been moved to the Home Cooking board at http://www.chow.com/topics/834034#715...

                                  2. I have used exclusively Ralo Olive Oil for several years now. They sell it at the St. Jacob's Market and on-line. I have also given bottles to friends and all have said it was the best they've had. I buy the 5 litre tin, which keeps the price under $30/litre.

                                    http://www.myolivetrees.com/

                                    1. For a reasonably priced, fruity olive oil, I like the Cretan olive oil that can be found in shops on the Danforth and on Pape.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: prima

                                        I've bought some pretty good oil at Ellas on Pape, it was $50 for 5l. I'm not sure what you get when you spend under $20 for 3L, but it's proabably good for lamp oil.

                                        1. re: foodyDudey

                                          You're an olive oil snob, foodyDudey ;-) I use the 3 L for $20 Greek, Spanish and Italian olive oils for salad and veggies all the time. Perfectly fine for Chowhounds who aren't olive oil snobs.

                                          1. re: prima

                                            No, the snobs buy the oil at Pusateri's and McEwans at $20 or more for 500 mL!

                                            I'll gladly try any suggestion that's cheaper if you have a name and location to buy! I'm always interested in good value.

                                      2. Like I said before - give the 'bulk' bottled olive oil at the Cheese Boutique a try - they have Turkish oil for $12 L and a Greek oil for $15 / 500mL. The best thing is that you can taste them before you buy. The Prestines know the folks who make the oil and can guarantee it's authenticity. Tasting oil is the only way to know whether or not you are going to like it. Think of it like wine - unless you've tasted enough olive oil to 'know' that you prefer fruity Luccesse oil from Italy over nutty Barossa Valley oil from Australia - you'll have to try as many as possible. To keep the wine analogy going - have a table wine / oil that you can cook with - one or two 'good' brand-name wines/oils for salads, veggies etc and a few top-drawer oils (Vintages selections) that you can 'eat'. Make sure to store the oil out of the light and away from heat (just like wine).

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: Shapeup1

                                            You might also want to try olive and olives on Queen East. Great selection, tons of samples. We buy our olive oil from there in the larger cans as it is definitely better value than the bottles.

                                        1. I took a closer look at Costco's Kirkland brand 'Toscano' Extra Virgin Olive OIl today. It sells for $12.49 for a 1L bottle. It has all of the attributes that you should look for in an olive oil, such as:

                                          - Dark glass bottle which protects the contents from degradation due to light (not can or plastic which can impart a taste, not to mention leach chemicals). This was the only olive oil at
                                          Costco that was available in a glass bottle.

                                          - States the date of harvest on the container, which is in this case is a very recent November/December 2011. Some producers base the 'best before' date on the date of bottling, when it should be based on the date of harvest. Without the date of harvest you don't really know how the best before date was determined. The olives used to produce this olive oil were harvested recently, which is good.

                                          - States on the container that it is 'From Tuscany' and has a seal of Geographical indication indicating that it was not merely 'bottled in Tuscany' or 'Product of Italy' but indeed was produced from olives that were harvest in Italy. Italy is one of the largest importers of olive oil from which it then bottles. Although, not necessariy bad (but likely so), this does mean that the provenance of the olive oil cannot really be determined. Also, it is easy to be tricked into thinking you are getting olive oil from olive harvested in Italy when the container says 'Product of Italy' and nothing else. You need to know what you are getting and where it comes from. The rear side of this particular bottle also specifies that the olives come from Tuscany and how they are harvested.

                                          - The bottle has a serial number stamped on it which allows the source of the olives and the production date to be traced

                                          - The bottle has a best before date stamped on it, in this case 2013 Aug 01, which is a maximum 21 months after harvest. This is well within the acceptable range for olive oil to remain of high quality.

                                          If you buy olive oil and the above attributes are not present then chances are what you are buying is not the greatest quality, regardless of how good you think it tastes. If a producer really cares about the olive oil they are producing it is very little extra effort to put this information on the bottle, or to bottle it properly. And, if you are paying way less than the $12.49 for 1L that this olive oil costs at Costco then you are getting what you pay for, which is not much.

                                          At $12.49 or a one litre bottle, this may not be the be all and end all but it is very good value. Pics attached.

                                           
                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Flexitarian

                                            Over a year ago Costco stopped carrying the good Tuscan EVOO here in the Richmond, VA area. I've been just devastated. However, just a week ago I found that they've started carrying a Spanish EVOO, same bottle, same Kirkland brand. It is TERRIFIC! I've always liked Spanish OOs because they're so fruity. This one is right up there with the best Spanish I've had.

                                            Linda (Frank's wife)

                                            1. re: fcbaldwin

                                              Ohhh, I hope that they start carrying this product in Canada soon. I really liked that oil from Tuscany. I'll be watching for the Spanish one. Thanks, fcb.

                                          2. 'Silver Leaf' Greek Kalamata Olive Oil from Pusateris. About 25 bucks but excellent. Makes a wicked Greek dressing.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                              Yes, a great olive oil (about $4-$5 cheaper at Lady Yorke, E side of Dufferin St, just south of Lawrence)

                                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                Perhaps it's a smaller bottle, but I noticed when I was in the Yorkville Pusateris this afternoon, their 500mL bottle of 'Silver Leaf' was priced at $17.99. I don't need any olive oil at the moment but when I do, I'm going to give it a try.

                                              2. I love a fresh, grassy olive oil and believe it or not, I have been very happy with President's Choice New World EVOO. Very reasonable, but not cheap like Gallo or anything like that.

                                                1. there is a store in leslieville (somewhere east of broadview, on the south side) that specializes in olive oil and balsamic & wine vinegars. they let you taste test very freely!

                                                  1. anyone know what brand of olive oil the use at enoteca sociale? i really enjoyed the stuff i dipped my bread in!

                                                    1. Seafood Depot has a huge selection of Italian Olive Oils (and other products Italian). Not high end oils but at fantastic prices. I use Colavita as an "everyday" EVOO. 1L about $10.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Winking Judge

                                                        With all due respect I don't think $10/1L is going to provide the flavourful quality that the OP is looking for. Of course, it's difficult to really discover what can be had unless one does some blind taste tests against a more flavourful oil. I've tested many olive oils and have found that unless you are spending close to $20 for a 750ml bottle of olive oil (and only in a glass bottle, not plastic, with a harvest and expiry date) its very difficult to find something with the flavour nuances of a quality oil. You get what you pay for.

                                                        Silver Leaf is one of the least expensive higher end olive oils that I've come across and it's about $20 or so for the 750ml olive oil. I only use it for salads, drizzles, dipping with bread, etc as cooking with a higher end olive oil ends up muting the delicate flavours of such an oil. Lady Yorke, E side of Dufferin just south of Lawrence tends to always have the lowest prices on this olive oil, but I have also seen it at Big Carrot and Whole Foods for more.

                                                        (For cooking I use Il Grezzo Cold Pressed EVOO in a glass bottle Costco Billy Bishop Way has it at around 2 1L bottles for about $12-ish)

                                                        1. re: Flexitarian

                                                          Hey F,
                                                          Don't knock it till ya try it. Good EVOO at a great price, plus I thought the OP and others might appreciate the value tip.

                                                      2. I would try:

                                                        the oftmentioned Olearia San Giorgio. Monocultivar (gold label) if you're looking for a fruitier flavour or the multicultivar (blue label) if you enjoy a peppery hit. Me, I've been more inclined towards the latter lately. Low $20s for the 750ml or mid teens for the 500ml.

                                                        Acropolis Organics - biodynamic, even. Fulfills all the labeling criteria, widely recommended. $11-13 for the 500ml.

                                                        Kirkland Organic - Passes all the lab tests for veracity.

                                                        Country Meadow Organics - from the Greek family that shows up at various farmers markets around the city (they also sell olives, feta, yoghurt, heritage turkeys), usually have a large container from which they spout into bottles, beautiful oil from their groves back in Greece.

                                                        1. Hi:

                                                          For health and enjoyment reasons have gone Mediterranean meals and use more Extra Virgin oil and less butter and sunflower oil etc(salads). I enjoy it all--pastas, salads, fish, meat etc more each day!!!!

                                                          Just finished a seriously overdetailed but awesome book:

                                                          Extra Virginity--the sublime and scandalous world of Olive Oil
                                                          by Tom Mueller-- a New yorker writer living amongst olive groves in Liguria Italy and self taught Extra Virgin Olive oil savant--

                                                          Mueller has collected a raft --280 pages-- of information that when filtered and consolidated says about 3/4 substantive things :

                                                          1) there are 3 characteristic background tastes to "good" Extra virgin Oil that every expert agrees upon which are: -a bitter background taste indicating good anti oxidant content (some people dont appreciate this taste like some people dislike certain expensive cru wine flavours; a fruity taste that is reminiscent of fresh olives and must be present legally; a peppery pungent taste that indicate health promoting ingredients.
                                                          I just compared 2 under $10/ lt Extra Virgins neglecting to temper to 88 degrees F or use a snifter glass for aroma . Tasting technique was much as wine someliers do--aroma, taste on inner lips, then tongue,then roof of mouth and finally swallow a little etc.
                                                          Surprisingly I recognized all 3 characteristics at differing levels for each partial cap of oil tasted. An hour later the peppery taste is still in the back of my throat but diminishing. Frankly I enjoyed both but probabely the stronger, more bitter and peppery most.
                                                          2) Every country with olive trees or high Extra virgin oil use cheats and commits adulteration fraud for profit . 80 % of all brands are substantially sub standard in opinion of expert tasters. No real useful law standards exist worldwide to protect users. Aficionados have only their ears and taste testing to find suitable oil. Supplies of popular oils stocked in specialty stores are pricy !!!!
                                                          3) There is only one way to find suitable Extra virgin to your taste. Listen to best experts you can and choose the ones they suggest to taste to the standards you set yourself. Dont neglect supermarket brands when testing. Experts wont necessarily agree with you, but its your gastronomic taste adventure , not theirs.!!!!

                                                          I used one oil at lunch today to make an asparagus with onion and peppers and tomato and oil simmered in a frying pan a on whole wheat toast. I enjoyed that before I self tested the 2 kinds I had; I believe either would have made my tummy happy.

                                                          Best of luck.

                                                          chas

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: chas888ca

                                                            I am resurrecting this thread because I thought that chas888's post - beginning with "Hi:" was so useful. And well written.