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Extra virgin olive oil

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! :)

Thanks.

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

    1. 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. 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

          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. 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. 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

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

            2. 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

                Thanks, bob96. That's really helpful info!

                1. re: uwsgrazer

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

                  1. re: erica

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

                    1. re: erica

                      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. 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.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    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:

                    http://www.npr.org/2011/12/12/1431541...

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      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.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        I can personally attest to how great the TJ's California Estate is. Always fresh, distinctive peppery finish, and an excellent value for such a drizzle/dipping worthy olive oil.

                         
                      2. 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.

                        JeremyEG
                        HomeCookLocavore.com

                        1. 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. 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....

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              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

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

                              2. re: Jim Leff

                                "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

                                  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

                                    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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      "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

                                        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.
                                        http://www.goya.com/english/products/...

                                        1. re: bob96

                                          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

                                            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

                                              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

                                                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.

                                  2. re: Jim Leff

                                    Jim I shop at both stores regularly so I've tasted a whole lot of Fairway's and not one of them can compete with the very best at TJ's without an accordingly higher price tag.

                                    Yes, Fairway has some superb oils but the only ones I found that bested the California Estate were almost twice the price at $19.99 a liter.

                                    If someone can point me to a Fairway offering at $12 a liter that is comparable without having to purchase 2+ liters at a time I'm all ears. (no point in seeking out quality fresh oil if it's going to oxidize for months after opening in my pantry)

                                    Also if you've only bought the California Estate at TJ's you're missing out on an even better value for another exceptional oil. Their 100% Greek Kalamata is shockingly good for the price and replaced the California Estate as my budget EVOO.

                                    I was turned on to it by this article at TruthInOliveOil.com and feel the praise they gave it is well founded:
                                    http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/2013/0...

                                    Mind you, it is a bit less complex than the California Estate but it has a more distinctly forward olive flavor and despite it's ridiculously low price of $8.99 a liter it still has the familiar peppery cough inducing phenolic content you generally only find in more expensive oils.

                                    I've also heard excellent things about the TJ's Spanish EVOO (non-organic) but haven't tried it yet. (NOT to be confused with their organic Spanish which was thrashed in Tom's review above)

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: NuMystic

                                      Just finished a 2-liter bottle of 100% Italian-olive EVOO under the Kirkland label form Costco--$12.99. Harvest and use-by dated; fresh, green, with the characteristic pepperiness and fruit of Pugliese evoo (coratina olives, probably) which it likely is, given Puglia's enormous crop. It's a super buy. Also, Whole Foods now has varietal bottlings from Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Sicily: the hojiblanca from Sevilla in Spain ($12.99 liter) is very good--warm, fruity, a little bay leaf and nut flavor.

                                      1. re: bob96

                                        Bob, have you tried the "premium" Kirkland Toscano EVOO in the smaller slimmer 1 liter bottle? Most people (including Tom over at TruthInOliveOil) suggest it's superior to the 2 Liter.

                                        That said I'm encouraged to hear such a positive review of an oil that only runs only $6.50 a liter! That's a super buy indeed. I'll definitely keep it in mind if I ever need a whole lot for a special occasion.

                                        I never buy anything larger than 1 Liter as that lasts me a good amount of time and I see no point in hunting down a good quality oil if it's just going to sit after being opened in my pantry for months oxidizing.

                                        So it would take finding a superior oil to the TJ's Kalamata for under $10 per liter and sold in bottles no larger than 1L to replace it as my staple of choice.

                                         
                                        1. re: NuMystic

                                          I usually keep a liter of their Toscano IGP, and it's really nice, and a great bargain. It's a Tuscan olive blend, so it's going to be different than the everyday Italian evoo in the 2 liter. This is my first try of the 2 liter evoo, and I was completely surprised when the green, fresh, snappy olive aroma hit me when I opened it. It's more one dimensional than the Toscano, but just fine for everyday cooking. I use this for all my cooking, so it doesn't sit around long. I also keep Greek (koroneiki) and Spanish (hojiblanca) evoos on hand, just cause I like 'em, too.

                                  3. 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

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

                                      1. re: bob96

                                        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

                                          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!