All About Olive Oil
A Q&A about olive oil and vinegar with Olivette owner, Alina Lawrence
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Where does Olivette source its olive oils and vinegars?
Freshness is the key factor for great tasting, high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. For that reason we source our EVOO twice a year, depending on which Hemisphere is harvesting at the time. In December-January we bring in oils from the October-November Northern Hemisphere Harvest (Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, California) and in June-July we bring in oils from the April-May Southern Hemisphere Harvest (Australia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, South Africa). All of our balsamic vinegars are sourced from Modena, Italy.
What are some of the main differences between olive oils from Olivette and the ones sold in supermarkets?
The term Extra Virgin is actually an international quality standard. To be labeled Extra Virgin, an oil must pass internationally accepted chemical testing and also be judged free of taste defects by an internationally accredited tasting panel. Each of our oils has met and surpassed every existing chemical quality standard for Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the world and has been judged free of any taste defects that would disqualify it from being labeled Extra Virgin. We provide our customers with both the chemical analyses and taste analyses along with basic information like the country of origin, crush date and cultivar. This type of transparency as to what’s actually in the bottle is not available in supermarkets. The vast majority of oils on the market have not been judged against any quality standard at all, meaning that quality control is virtually nonexistent for what is actually a highly perishable product.
All of our balsamic vinegars from Modena are produced in the traditional style. Trebbiano grapes are picked, squished, cooked in copper and then aged in wood. Unlike with supermarket balsamic there’s never a reason to worry about thickening agents, starches or sugar being added to our balsamic. The syrupy quality to ours comes from the ageing process. There is absolutely no caramel color added to our balsamic. Most commercial brands add caramel color to try to even out the color of balsamic that has not been aged properly, if at all. You’ll also find the acidity of our balsamic ranges from 4% for dark to 5.5% for white. It would be hard to find a dark balsamic in a supermarket with and acidity less than 6%.
What are some of the best ways to use the flavored olive oils in food?
We recommend using our flavored oils for any application where a quick burst of flavor is required. Nothing is off limits. All of our citrus oils make great bases for vinaigrettes or pair exceptionally well with fish and seafood. All of our infused oils are made with an Ultra-Premium Certified oil as their base, so feel free to use them for marinades, vinaigrettes, dipping bread, braising or just to drizzle over roasted vegetables and grilled meats.
What are your favorite olive oils to use as marinades for fish, chicken or beef?
For fish and chicken we recommend all of our infused citrus oils like Blood Orange, Lemon and Lime. Basil is also fantastic for chicken and lean cuts of beef that can handle a long marinade time. Our Dill infused oil is great for brushing on salmon, and our Rosemary infused oil is excellent for roasting potatoes. Our favorite beef marinade is a combination of equal parts of our Espresso BBQ Rub, a Mild EVOO and our Espresso Dark Balsamic mixed into a grill paste.
What are the best uses for the mild, medium and robust intensity olive oils?
It’s really all about pairing the intensity of the oil with the style of food you are preparing. We like to use the milder oils for milder dishes like fish and chicken and the robust oils for stronger flavors like beef, lamb, arugula, kale and ice cream. An oil with a grassy flavor profile would pair excellently with grass fed beef; but in reality it’s all personal preference. We find that over time, most of our customers tend to gravitate to the more robust oils and drizzle them over just about every type of food imaginable kind of like an antioxidant rich condiment!
I noticed you sell Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar. What would be the best use for such a unique vinegar?
Our Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar has tons of great uses because it's infused with 3 different types of cacao beans. The most obvious use would be to top vanilla ice cream. A more savory use would be to glaze sautéed mushrooms to create an earthy side dish for a steak. Of course reducing it a bit and using in bread pudding and/or over baked apples is perfectly acceptable too. You might not usually think of caprese salad and chocolate pairing well together, but if you use a creamy mozzarella or burrata the richness of the chocolate balsamic adds and exquisite touch. And it’s also perfect in dressings for spinach salads, especially if there’s bacon involved!