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Feb 28, 2014 05:23 PM

Olive Oil

I am pretty much hooked on Olio Santo California cold-pressed evoo. First started using it when it was apparent that Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) uses it pretty much exclusively on TV. It's an excellent well-balanced olive oil that at least to me works well for both cooking and dressing salads. So why change…it's $30 for a 750 ml (25 oz) bottle. Sure I can afford it, but with so many other olive oils on the shelves at other nearby markets (and Costco) I'm wondering if I'd be equally happy with something else that's less expensive. I there something else widely available at the larger chain grocery stores (Bristol Farms, Whole Foods, Costco, etc.) that I'd likely enjoy as much??

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  1. Many of the cheaper olive oils are imported, and have lots of preservatives. The New York Times did an interesting piece on this a while back. Spanish olive oil is shipped to Italy. It's labeled Italian olive oil and is shipped here. Meanwhile, it's been sitting on docks for a long time....and if it's in light colored bottles, the sun has broken it down. I live in Los Angeles and buy fresh local oil from the Santa Ynez area. My favorite is Rancho Olivos. I find all better, artisinal oil is fairly expensive....but worth the cost. And the old "wives tale" about not being able to use olive oil when cooking at high temperatures isn't true when the oil is fresh.

    1. I like California Olive Ranch ($12) and it is found in all grocery stores in my area. Trader Joes California Estate is great too. ($7)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Njchicaa

        Cola Vita is my every day OO.
        I'm moving towards using walnut oil instead though.

        1. re: Puffin3

          My wife uses only Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and we currently have 9 1-liter bottles in our cellar. I buy it at Bjs Wholesale Club at $8.99 a bottle while supermarkets in our area charge the same price for a half liter.

          I'm a peasant (contadino) and buy a less expensive EVOO for my personal use that is made with olives from 4 countries...Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia. My palate is not as particular as that of some other people.

        2. re: Njchicaa

          I used to use California Olive Ranch until I discovered TJs California Estate. Also to the OP, there have been many discussions on this before, might try a quick search for more opinions.

        3. $30 for a 750ml is pretty good. Every year I go to Italy and high quality premium Nuvo EVOO was $75 US per liter. Unfortunately, Italy does not import it's premium EVOO's, the US gets the dregs. I've had good luck with Costco's Tuscan EVOO and Kirkland Organic EVOO, both are good for everyday use and are reasonably priced.

          29 Replies
          1. re: treb

            Do you mean export??

            I find the olive oils that Costco/Kirkland sell to taste awful.....

            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              No, that $75 per liter was purchased in Italy and shipped via my suitcase. If it were available, which it's not, and purchased in the US it would be well over $100. per liter.

              1. re: treb

                Wow…I've never seen such pricey olive oil. I can't imagine spending $100 for a liter…but I guess it must be pretty special.

                1. re: josephnl

                  In Italy, a typical premium EVOO's can easily run from a low of 30+ Euro's shipped to the US. I know, it's not cheap but, the premium EVOO's never make it out of the country and the few smaller producers that do will cost you. Prior to 2000, I would have 6 375 ml bottles shipped for aprox. $200.

                  1. re: treb

                    Are they really that much better than evoos available here? I love the terrific arbequina oil that I buy in St. Helena for about $25 for 500ml., and Olio Santo at $30 for 750ml is an excellent oil. Are these oils really worth that much more?

                    1. re: josephnl

                      I doubt they are anymore than a 50-dollar bottle of wine is that much better than one that costs 15 bucks.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        Actually, I think that $50 bottles of wine are generally (certainly not always) better than $15 bottles of wine. I'm much less sure that $500 bottles of wine are that much better than a $50-60 bottle of wine.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          Better--but more than 300% better? I'm dubious.

                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                          I have to disagree at a reputable wine shop a $50 bottle will generally be superior. ex. last weekend I had the opportunity to taste 2 syrah's from the same vintage and location only difference being selection of grapes - the $20 bottle was fine, the $50 bottle brought an instant smile to my lips and to the lady tasting simultaneously. The leap between the two was quite staggering. I have on rare occasion had opportunity to taste wine in the $500 dollar range - its a whole other world.

                          Does that mean its always the better choice - no. I left with a $11 bottle of Cotes Du Rhone (that tasted like an $11 bottle) I was not really up for spending $50 for a everyday dinner.

                          For olive oil, like wine, you need different qualities for different uses - for cooking and basic use I use a cheap extra virgin - sometimes Spanish, sometimes middle eastern it really does not matter its a supporting favor - sauté with mirepoix will really waste any top quality olive oil like braising meat with sock and onions is a waste of Barolo. For drizzling on a precious dish or over top quality ingredients I have some beautiful stuff smuggled back from Tuscany - I use sparingly.

                          1. re: JTPhilly

                            The most expensive bottle of wine that I recall buying was a bottle of Chateau Carbonnieux for $35 back in '98 (nowadays I imagine Carbonnieux goes for around $50). And frankly, it was quite bad. Since then I've been leery of buying expensive, let alone astronomical ($500) wine.

                            I should also say that I'm a connoisseur of zinfandel, and have found that many of the best zins are the least expensive. Truant Four Vine, Redemption and Temptation Zin, and Rosenblum are examples of tremendous bargain zins.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              note I said "taste" not "bought" LOL

                              and yes, there are some horrible $35 bottles

                              I generally drink inexpensive wine because it is usually accompaniment to food (and because I am cheap) but it is interesting and fun to taste some higher dollar stuff where all those fancy wine words start to make sense. Occassionaly I indulge in an $50 range - this syrah in particular was lovely - I am considering it..

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                Re Four Vines Truant, here's what Wine Enthusiast had to say:

                                Wine Enthusiast
                                A bit rustic and rough around the edges, but for the price, not bad. Fruity and spicy, it’s the kind of wine you drink with pizza, lasagna, barbecue or just bacon rinds, and who cares if it’s not subtle. (Web-2013)

                                Many things in life are personal preference, not just wine and olive oil.

                              2. re: JTPhilly

                                I have on one or two occasions been able to taste some very expensive wines (in the $500 range) and thought they were wonderful. Nevertheless, I'm not sure that in a blind tasting I (and I'm speaking for myself, and perhaps most of us) would necessarily find such a wine superior to a well chosen $50 bottle of wine. Something about knowing that the bottle was very expensive, perhaps made me think that it was more wonderful than it actually was.

                        3. re: josephnl

                          Just today I ordered a couple of bottles of Meyer lemon olive oil. Cost was $38/375 ml bottle. I'd pay more.

                        1. re: ChiliDude

                          Yah, OOPS... I meant export. Brain Freeze!

                        2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Yah, the mind thought export and the fingers typed import.

                          1. re: treb

                            Did you bring me back some of the good stuff?

                              1. re: treb

                                Cool. .
                                That means you saved a bottle for me..

                                ; )

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  If you bring your bottle, I'd gladly fill it as I buy 5 liter cans.

                                  1. re: treb

                                    Sweet. .
                                    Do I have to fly to BOS?
                                    What is the brand of EVO you buy in Italy?

                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                      Fattorie Parri, you'll never find it in the US, amazing EVOO.

                                      Call me when you arrive!

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Love the label of the Frantoio Franci with the orange flowers with the olives..
                                          Looks easy to order with free shipping to US too.

                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            I was pleased to find it also. Nowadays it seems like there's little we can't get.

                                        2. re: treb

                                          Oh, I've got your number. .

                                          Abbracci e baci

                          2. re: treb

                            Absolutely wrong about what Italy sends. You may buy Nuovo (not Nuvo) EVOO in Italy, and that's fine. But one doesn't have to: there are loads of high quality, premium, single-varietal, estate-bottled oils, many protected by DOP, available in places like Eataly, gustiamo, Buon'Italia, Ferrara, and many other places. You really seem to know nothing of what's available here--I can start a long list of prize winners you can buy with little trouble. You can get inexpensive mediocre Italian-packed blends that include, legally, oils from Spain or Greece, and the Kirkland Toscano is a fine value, but you can also and easily get, say, superb Sicilian evoo from Cutrera or Barbera for under $30. Lord, I just bought a fresh harvest Nocellara di Belice denocciolato from Barbera at a Home Goods store in NC for $20. Look around: you'll be surprised, and, I hope, corrected.

                            1. re: bob96

                              Thanks for this. Could you look as this list available from DiPalo's in NYC and see if you recognize/like any of them.



                          3. IMO the Costco premium EVOO is pretty good and is reasonably priced.

                            1. The Cretan olive oil at TJ's is pretty great.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: linguafood

                                I'm running low on my every day oo so will check out TJs. I've been pleased with them previously.