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Three Olive Oils: Xertoli Coupage, My Olive Tree, La Bandiera Toscano

Three Olive Oils: Xertoli Coupage, My Olive Tree, La Bandiera Toscano

Last month Tim tackled the biggest question on many olive oil consumers’ minds – guaranteeing authenticity in the face of fraud. While some may be tempted to solve this problem by swearing off certain countries of production, Tim argued that the key to finding great olive oil is finding a source you can trust. As we have experienced in our search for the best products for our shops, there are excellent, fair, and yes, fraudulent olive oils in all olive growing regions. It is only by knowing the producer and building trust with them that we can guaranteeing an excellent oil every time.

With that in mind, and as somewhat of an olive oil novice myself, I took it upon myself to taste through a few of our favorite olive oils, settling on three producers from three different countries representing some of the best oils Europe has to offer.

 

SPAIN: Xertoli Coupage

One of the first oils Tim recommended to me, this Spanish olive oil from Catalonia is made from olives grown on trees ranging from 100 to 1000 years old in the Baix Ebre-Monsià region, some of the first ever Catalonian olive groves. The blend features three local Spanish olive varieties – Sevillenca, Farga, and Morruda. The aromatic Morruda olives blend well with the more standard Sevillenca olives, a variety that is also popular locally eaten green, tossed in salad. This sweet, fruity olive oil is rounded out by Farga olives, which were brought into Spain by the Arabs during the Middle Ages. Hints of apple and the sharp, bright flavor of green almonds, I found it to be a wonderfully light finishing oil for any Mediterranean-inspired dish.

 

GREECE: My Olive Tree

Representing Greece, this olive oil is produced by the Karelas family in the small town of Karpofora in Messinia. Their family has been growing the small, highly prized Greek Koroneiki olives for oil, as well as Kalamata olives for eating, in their groves for five generations. The full-flavored Koroneiki olives yield a beautifully smooth, almost buttery oil with a peppery kick. I found it balanced and fruity in the middle with a pleasingly astringent finish, well deserving of its 2014 Gold award at the New York International Olive Oil Competition!

 

ITALY: La Bandiera Toscano

This Italian olive oil is produced on a privately owned estate near Bolgheri, a small medieval village in Tuscany with olive groves dating back around 1000 years. Tuscan oils are highly sought after for their density of flavor, a result of harvesting the olives young, before winter frosts set in. La Bandiera uses three iconically pungent Tuscan olive varieties harvested just as they begin to ripen – fruity Moriaolo olives, the milder Leccino olives, and lightly grassy Frantonio olives. After harvesting and pressing each variety separately, they then expertly blend the oils to minimize acidity, yielding a beautifully sweet, smooth oil.

 

Rob Campbell is a culinary adventurer, world traveler, science geek, and also the blog manager at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

Fennel and Potato Salad

Fennel and Potato Salad

August is here, and with it comes the peak of our produce season. With more and more amazing local fruits, vegetables and herbs to complement our bi-weekly deliveries direct from California, the options are pretty much endless.

This delicious and light potato salad uses the brininess of preserved lemon and balances it with the brightness of fennel and fresh herbs. Potatoes are generally associated with winter and colder months but they are actually dug from the ground now. The summer brings us new potatoes with thin skin and a more pronounced potato flavor. Fennel balances this dish with a light crunch.

Fennel and Potato Salad

1 pound of new potatoes
1 medium bulb of fennel
1/4 cup  of olive oil
1/8 of a preserved lemon, finely minced (available at our cheese counter)
1 small clove of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of a fresh herb of your choice, minced (oregano, dill, parsley, or thyme all work well)
Black pepper to taste

Wash the potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces (leave the skin on). If you are using a small potato, you may not even need to cut them. Cook the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water.

Meanwhile, very thinly slice the fennel bulb and pull off one small handful of the fennel fronds. Toss in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Add potatoes when they are finished cooking (fork tender). Gently blend all of the ingredients together and chill for at least about an hour to allow the flavors to blend.

 

Grace Lichaa is a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, loves bike adventures, and has a special love of turning good food into beautiful meals.

Mottura Vineyard

Porcupine’s eye view of the Mottura Vineyard

This past April the Formaggio Wine Team took a pleasant trip to visit Sergio Mottura’s estate on our way to VinItaly 2014. We flew into Rome’s Fiumicino airport early in the morning and drove north-east towards Umbria. We eventually split off from the crazy A1 autostrada onto small, one-lane roads. Just along the northern border of Lazio we reached the medieval hamlet of Civitella d’Agliano, and the home, hotel and cantina of the Mottura family.

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Italian Olive Oils

A selection of some of our Italian olive oils — left to right: Raineri Unfiltered, Salustri Olivastra, Madonna Antonia, Podere San Biagio, and La Bandiera

The other night, while having dinner with a friend, she said “I’m not buying Italian olive oil anymore because of all the fraud – I just can’t trust it.” and my head just about exploded.

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Fresh Chai Hot or Iced

Fresh Chai Hot or Iced

After a winter that seemed like it would never end, we have finally made it to the hot and humid days of mid-summer. Somewhat ironically, these days I find myself coming back to the same drink that got me through that long cold winter – fresh brewed chai tea.

The phrase “chai tea” is actually redundant. Our word chai comes from the Hindi word for tea, and it turns out that most people across South Asia and the Middle East, and even most of China, use some variant of cha or chai for the word tea (the Hindi word chai comes from the Chinese “cha” (茶); however, in some southern Chinese dialects the same word is pronounced “teh,” which is how we got the English word “tea” instead).

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Consider Bardwell Farm

Consider Bardwell Farm

Four years ago, when I first moved from New York to the Boston-area, I can only describe it as a collision of worlds. Although the change of pace is less noticeable for some, it took me extra time to adjust to the relatively gentle mobility of Beantown as compared to that of the Big Apple.

After finding work at Formaggio Kitchen, and as I established a comfort zone with my newly adopted environment, I was given the opportunity through the shop to visit a series of farms in western Vermont. I had never traveled that far north in the United States before, so I jumped at the opportunity.

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Gruyère Alpage

Gruyère Alpage

We knew it would be a fast trip, and the time spent waiting for our flight in the Newark airport did not make it any easier. Switzerland was calling and we could not have been any more prepared (and less ready) for what we were going to experience.

We landed in Geneva and made haste to the Jura region of France for a brief stop at Marcel Petite’s famed aging rooms at Fort Sant Antoine. As always, visiting Claude and the crew to taste and pick our wheels of Comté was a resounding success. The Comté offered to us was as spectacular as ever and we were introduced to new fruitières* with all new flavor profiles. This means in a few months, our customers will also be introduced to these new flavors. Exciting, but I digress…

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