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Extra virgin olive oil

uwsgrazer Jul 3, 2012 09:55 AM

I usually try to buy this when I visit Arthur Avenue but I've run out and have no immediate plans to go to the Bronx.

Do 'hounds prefer Fairway or TJ's extra virgin olive oil? I'm no olive oil expert but I guess I'm just looking for a good bottle to use on salads and such. Now that I've picked up my cooking activity, I seem to go through oil pretty quickly these days. Hence, extra points for good value! :)


  1. b
    BuildingMyBento Aug 30, 2012 10:08 AM

    I've been quite disappointed with the light tastes of a few Trader Joe's olive oils. If I want to splurge, Badia e Coltibuono is my ticket. You can at least find it at Grace's at 3rd and 71st.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BuildingMyBento
      bob96 Aug 30, 2012 02:03 PM

      Then try Fairway's--the Umbrian Trevi might be to your liking. And much better value than Badia.

      1. re: bob96
        BuildingMyBento Sep 3, 2012 09:34 PM

        Thanks again bob96 for your suggestion. Though Fairway frequenters are already keen on the fact, I only recently discovered that supermarket (don't live anywhere near one to do mass shopping) AND its olive oil tasting festa. http://www.fairwaymarket.com/fairway-... if it's harvested in November in December, I might be able to hold off for now (aging doesn't help the flavor), so what's similar in the meantime?

        1. re: BuildingMyBento
          erica Sep 4, 2012 04:29 AM

          I've been pleased with Olave from Chile. You can find it in Whole Foods and probably in many other markets. I discovered it when WF had a half-price sale a few months ago.

          Theoretically, these and other southern hemipshere oils would come from the spring 2012 harvest.

          Fairway will not receive the 2012 harvest oils until well into 2013, if last year is any indication. Their bottles are not dated and it can be difficult to get information about them from the staff in the store.

          About the Badia and those other big-name oils: I asked about the Laudemio (Frescobaldi) in a, upscale shop in Tuscany about ten years ago. The shop owner chuckled, and told me that local cooks would never use it in cooking and that it, along with others of its price, were purchased only by tourists. He pointed me towards a bottle from Umbria with an unfamiliar label, that turned out to be fabulous. I've since seen it in NY, but cannot recall the name. the label is green, if that is any help!

    2. Jim Leff Aug 8, 2012 08:24 PM

      Late to the discussion. I haven't done a methodical exploration of all Fairway's olive oil offerings, but I have been lucky enough to try some of the best olive oil on the planet. And while it's not, like, super great, one specific Trader Joe's oil is pretty exceptional: their California Estate oil, in the tall skinny bottle.

      Has anyone tried that one as well as the Fairway oils, and thinks the Fairway oils merit consideration?

      I realize we're talking apples and oranges to some extent, because there are so many styles of olive oil. FWIW, the TJ California Estate is of the grassy/citrus/buttery school....

      13 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff
        Dave Feldman Aug 9, 2012 02:51 PM

        That's the very olive oil of TJ's that scored well in the Consumer Reports article. Most of the top olive oils were grassy.

        1. re: Dave Feldman
          uwsgrazer Aug 16, 2012 05:57 AM

          Great comments. I'll have to check out TJ's California Estate oil. Thanks for the head's up.

        2. re: Jim Leff
          bob96 Aug 10, 2012 12:37 AM

          "Grassy/citrus/buttery" about covers it all, but I think you're referring to an oil that's not primarily, and sometimes completely, harsh/green/raspy, like some Tuscans are. Traditional California oils, based on Manzanilla and Mission cultivars, were always ripe, golden, fat and smooth, but now being blended with other cultivars (Tuscan, Spanish) for more of the grassy, green fresh notes today's tastes favor. I've not tried the TJ's but have had high quality California oils (Bariani, Corto), and I think Fairway's California Mission blend is good, on the fat side, as is, for smoothness, their Greek Koroneiki. For a more balanced blend of the notes you mention, I'd suggest their Spanish Gata Hurdes from Estremadura, or their Catalan Arbequina. The classy Barbera Frantoia blend from Sicily also captures most of these qualities, and is always an excellent value. Their Pugliese, Umbrian, and Spanish Baena oils might be too bitter.

          1. re: bob96
            Sloth Aug 10, 2012 07:14 AM

            I've been buying the Fairway Baena in the 3-litre can and haven't experienced any bitterness. But my new favorite is the Luque Andalusia novello. Same olive grove as last year's Andalusian Early Harvest, but for whatever reason this year's harvest hits the high notes I didn't experience last year.

            1. re: Sloth
              bob96 Aug 10, 2012 08:05 AM

              I like the Baena--it's big and rich but does to my taste have a bite some might not enjoy--and it's a classic Andalucian. The Luque is a superb novello and a great find and value..

          2. re: Jim Leff
            Jim Leff Aug 16, 2012 10:23 AM

            Tried the Gata-Hurdes from the sample bottle. Started great, but finished so harsh and bitter that I almost gagged. Obviously, this is an age and storage issue, but the sample oil's got to be moving out of there at a superfast clip.

            I'll stick to TJ's california estate oil, which (if I'm not mistaken) comes boxed, and always at peak of freshness. I've spent a lot of time in Spain, so I'm a tough critic of olive oil, and I can drizzel this stuff on most anything and be left happy.

            BTW, for cooking, I totally love Goya Extra Virgin. Anyone who knocks it either hasn't tried it or is a snob. It's good stuff (not subtle or delicate, but that's why it's for cooking rather than drizzling).

            1. re: Jim Leff
              bob96 Aug 16, 2012 01:03 PM

              Jim, Goya EV is also a classic Andalucian oil, smoothed out a bit, and a greta bargain. They now offer a premium version of this standard, touting at last its Spanish qualities; shelf-life and freshness might be the only problem with the Goya line, though. The Gata-Hurdes does have a bitterish finish, which I like, at the same same time as I don't like the unbalanced, super harsh Tuscans and love the fatter flavors of California , Provence, and Catalonia. Never have too many good, different-tasting oils around, I say. My Italian immigrant grandfather always kept a gallon of El Toro or Ybarra Extra Virgin (both still in the same can design!) in the basement for his own personal use--he loved the thick green olive flavor, and could not abide the popular blends and "pure" oils so popular among Italian Americans and used upstairs in the kitchen. Much if not most of the oils imported for packing domestically came from Spain anyway back in those 50s and 60s, even if the packaging has a loud Italianate flair. We thought him oddly old-fashioned and nostalgic, which he was, but now....

              1. re: bob96
                Jim Leff Aug 16, 2012 04:23 PM

                "shelf-life and freshness might be the only problem with the Goya line, though"

                really? My bottles of Goya stay rock solid long after my fussier/fancier ones start falling apart!

                I didn't know about their premium product. not sure how I feel about it....but I'll try it.

                I needed to clarify that I don't mind a bit of bitterness in finish. But when I said Gata-Hurdes made me gag, I meant it. I'm quite sure it was light-struck. And, again, the samplers move FAST, so I'm reluctant to invest in a bottle.

                I know what you mean about a generation of Italians imigrants coming to prefer really denatured olive oil. One exception I love (though not as lusty as the Spaniards) is Don Alfonso. Comes in a big can. Great stuff.

                If you ever get a chance to visit Spain, I would very highly recommend spending a week or two traipsing around villages south of Seville (I love, fwiw, Manzanilla). They tend to have cooperative olive oil operations, and the oil is several times better than anything you get here, and costs mere pennies.

                1. re: Jim Leff
                  bob96 Aug 16, 2012 08:17 PM

                  Jim, I was referring to length of time on supermarket shelves, where Goya is such a staple that it might be sitting for a bit. The oil itself is not the problem. As always, buyers should check sell by dates. I bought the Fairway Gata-Hurdes last year and liked it so maybe this crop is different. I'll be sure to sample next time I can. I've been reading up on olive oils (a personal passion, plus my family was sort of in the business, making tin cans for Progresso and Gem until the 1970s) and Spain amazes with its output, quality, and variety. As another Manzanilla lover anyway, now more than one reason to head south of Sevilla. Thanks for the tip.
                  Here's the special edition Goya.

                  1. re: bob96
                    erica Aug 30, 2012 01:25 PM

                    I thought that the region of Andalucia most known for olive oil was in the vicinity of Cordoba and Baena,, as well as in and around Jaen. But since I am headed to SEville in October, and will have access to a car, I would love more detail on villages south of the city that might offer a chance to taste and buy oils. I do know of one mill in Zahara de la Sierra, southeast of Sevilla, but where else?

                    1. re: erica
                      bob96 Aug 30, 2012 02:16 PM

                      According to my handy DK Olive Oil Eyewitness Companion, a few options in Huelva/Seville/Cadiz: Santa Teresa SAT, a leading coop in Osuna (www.1881.es), Nuestra Senora de los Remedios,in Olvera (Cadiz), Olivarea La Campana in La Campana (oleocampana.com) and El Agro in Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz), all leading coops. In Periana (Malaga), Olivarea San Jose Artesano has a small museum attached. The largest coop in Periana, with 800 giowers, is San Isidro (aceiteverdialperiana.com). Also in Malaga at Fuente de Piedra is the prize-winning Almazar El Labrador (satlabrador.com) Having no sense of Southern Spanish geography, I can only hope these are attractive and viable destinations. I can only imagine the enormous vistas of olives.

                      1. re: bob96
                        erica Sep 4, 2012 04:26 AM

                        Bob96: Incredibly thorough, as usual! I had not heard of the DK olive oil book; would you recommend buying a used copy (available on Amazon for a few dollars)?

                        I'll be in Malaga at the end of my trip in late October, so will look for those names at the market when I pick up my treats to bring home..

                        1. re: erica
                          bob96 Sep 4, 2012 02:34 PM

                          It's probably the only thing out there--packed with amazing amounts of info, a region by region buying guide, overall primer, and arm-chair travel time suck. And as with all DK stuff, beautifully designed. Got it at Kitchen Arts and Letters a few years ago. Worth it. Enjoy your Spanish sojourn.

          3. j
            jester99 Aug 8, 2012 08:16 AM

            the filling station in chelsea market has a few good olive oils. though i hate shopping at eataly, they do have a wide range of oils and are fairly priced. I generally buy my olive oiils at Buon Italia or Dipalos. For Spanish olive oils Despana has a good small selection

            1. j
              JeremyEG Aug 7, 2012 03:58 PM

              I get my oil at either Murray's Cheese or Brooklyn Larder. The Larder obviously requires a trip to Brooklyn but they have a big keg that you use to refill your bottle. They have had some amazing Spanish and Sicilian oils over the past year and they change them every few months.

              Murray's has the best selection I think across different price ranges. Their Greek oil is very good as is their Spanish.


              1. d
                Dave Feldman Aug 7, 2012 06:28 AM

                The latest issue of Consumer Reports rates more than 20 olive oils, ranging in price from 28 cents to $1.79 per oz. The two highest-rated oils, deemed excellent, were McEvoy Ranch, one of the most expensive oils, and Trader Joe's California Estate, one of the cheapest. In general, the big surprise was the performance of California oils vs. Italian and Spanish brands.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dave Feldman
                  von_levi Aug 7, 2012 08:10 AM

                  Did they actually test the oil to see if it was pure olive oil?

                  A lot as been written about how many extra virgin olive oils don't meet the legal definition of extra virgin olive oil:


                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                    bob96 Aug 7, 2012 03:46 PM

                    CR does this test every so often, and compared a boutique California Oil, McEvoy, against mostly industrial Italian and Spanish blends. The ratings are always subjective, and often odd with CR. The other California, California Olive Ranch, got a fair middling ratings. I love that California is finally ramping up quality oil (no surprise at all) but the range of quality choices across price ranges will always favor Italy and Spain, given their enormous, and improving, production. Things have changed for the better in the EU, with stricter regs and critical and consumer pressure from books like Mueller's and articles elsewhere. The trick has always been to look for producers, not blenders or bottlers; for certified area of production (DOP in Italy, other certifications in Spain and Greece), get fresh oil (check sell by dates--don't buy if the bottle doesn't have one), and taste, taste, taste. Never buy super cheap stuff from a supermarket. There are superb, distinctive extra virgins--and yes, real extra virgin--from Sicily, Greece, Catalonia, Portugal, and Chile for less than $20/liter. Fairway in NY offers wide ranging tastings all the time, and I hope other stores elsewhere can as well. Barbera from Sicily, Unio from Catalonia, Iliada from Greece, and Bariani from California all, among many others, make excellent, distinctive, and legitimate evoos--at affordable prices.

                  2. b
                    bob96 Jul 3, 2012 08:11 PM

                    The Barbera range of Sicilian extra virgins at Fairway are very good value--no more than $20/liter. The Fairway regional oils, topping out at about the same price per litre, but often less, are also good values--the Greek koroneiki, Catalan arbequina, Puglian coratina, and Umbria-Trevi blends are excellent, but there are many others, which are always open for tasting. Elsewhere, I've also found good buys of the DeCecco extra virgin from all-Italian olives at around $10/liter, but chec k for bottled and use-by dates.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: bob96
                      uwsgrazer Jul 4, 2012 06:06 AM

                      Thanks, bob96. That's really helpful info!

                      1. re: uwsgrazer
                        erica Jul 4, 2012 06:40 PM

                        For my money, the standout at Fairway is their DOP Gata Hurdes from Extremadura, Spain.

                        1. re: erica
                          bob96 Jul 4, 2012 08:02 PM

                          Forgot about this one--an amazingly complex and delicious value.

                          1. re: erica
                            uwsgrazer Jul 4, 2012 08:29 PM

                            Great. I'll be sure to look out for the Gata Hurdes. Hope to (finally) make it to Fairway in the next day or two ... Had to make do with regular olive oil in my salad today :/

                      2. f
                        foodwhisperer Jul 3, 2012 04:27 PM

                        Eataly has a good selection of Olive Oil. Personally I prefer olive oil from Sicily although I have had good Tuscan Olive Oil. The most delicious Olive Oil I have had was unfiltered from the Druze people in Israel.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: foodwhisperer
                          uwsgrazer Jul 3, 2012 06:21 PM

                          Yup, Sicilian olive oil is what I just ran out of. I was very happy with it.

                        2. David11238 Jul 3, 2012 12:25 PM

                          Frankie's 457 is my favorite. However, as far as I know, you have to hit Carrol Gardens/Cobble Hill to get it. I would stick with Fairway and any O&CO. shop/s. Both of them allow you to sample their selection before purchasing. And they do indeed have a very nice assortment to choose from.

                          1. v
                            von_levi Jul 3, 2012 11:34 AM

                            Whole Foods 365 brand has an olive oil for like $6.99. It comes in a pretty large bottle, I think 1 liter. While it's a blend of different olives, it claims to be 100% olive oil (as you're probably aware, a lot of olive oils are cut with other vegetable oils). And while a lot of the 100% claims are actually false, I'm inclined to trust Whole Foods because they do disclose that they're blending different kinds of olives (though Whole Foods has been caught in the past for cutting their oil with other vegetables).

                            Every month or so they seem to have a premium brand olive on a huge markdown..

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: von_levi
                              uwsgrazer Jul 3, 2012 12:08 PM

                              Thanks. I kind of always forget about Whole Foods, I guess as it's a bit of a longer walk to get to. Their 365 brand does seem to get good reviews, though. I do try to check out their weekly sales via their online posting. I'll keep an eye out for extra virgin olive oil.

                              I'll probably have to head over to Fairway (which seems to be getting more positive feedback on this thread) in the interim as I'm pretty much out of oil for salads, at this point

                            2. iluvcookies Jul 3, 2012 11:01 AM

                              Fairway has the edge because the selection is so much greater, and I can get a small bottle of a better quality for salads and a larger, less expensive one for everything else.
                              Though I don't find fault with TJ's olive oil lately by any means. It's a pretty good value for around $7/liter.

                              1. Sloth Jul 3, 2012 10:28 AM

                                I used to use Trader Joe's but have been converted to Fairway. Better selection, tastings and 3liter oil cans available at great prices.

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