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Archive for the ‘Olive Oil & Specialty Oils’ Category

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.

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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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A selection of our olive oilsI’ve been thinking a lot about olive oil recently. I buy the olive oil for our shop and each time I consider a new oil, I taste it with several other buyers to determine its quality and its potential fit into our selection. In addition to my buying responsibilities, I’ve been reading several recent articles about the scandalous world of big olive oil, evidently full of graft and corruption. Tom Mueller’s 2011 book Extra Virginity shines a light on the history, problems and some of the worst (or at least most suspect) and best producers of olive oil. Considering all of this turmoil surrounding olive oil, I encourage you to experience the revelation of tasting truly exceptional olive oil. (more…)

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Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal

Ihsan and Valerie own and run the Formaggio Kitchen family of stores. As is true of any folks passionate about their jobs, work intertwines throughout all aspects of their lives. Their travels – frequent and far-flung – are largely dictated by the food producers they want to meet or to revisit, by rumors of new and exciting foodstuffs and/or food conferences such as “Cheese,” the biennial Slow Food festival held in Bra, Italy. Their larder and wine cellar are stocked with favorite items they have imported or new items they are testing out. Even when on holiday, they are in direct communication with all three stores, coordinating deliveries from Europe and generally checking to make sure everything is on track. (more…)

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Cornelis de Heem - Still Life with a Basket of Fruit

At the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops – in Cambridge, the South End and in New York – fill out a staff survey. We reflect on our year in food, pick our favorites and share memorable moments. Some items are tried-and-true favorites, regularly appearing on the survey. Others are new and exciting products that helped to define and distinguish our year in food. Here are our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results! (more…)

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In northern Italy, the olive harvest happens late in the growing year, usually during December and January. We’ve recently gotten in the first bottles of the new-harvest olive oil from our friends the Cottas, who live in the hills outside of Imperia in the Liguria region of Italy. Giuseppe and his twin daughters, Simona and Monica, live in an apartment above their frantoio, the traditional mill they use to press their oils.

Their “Inprimis” oil is pressed from Taggiasca olives that are harvested a little earlier in the season. The slightly underripe green olives produce an oil with a bit of a peppery finish, similar to oils from further south in Italy.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Cotta family in Liguria

Cotta Organic Olive Oil

A beautiful oil with balanced flavors at once ripe Taggiasca and green grass

Cotta Inprimis Olive Oil

The Cottas traditional organic olive oil comes from darker, riper olives. It is mildly sweet and fruity — more characteristic of oils from Liguria and the south of France. Both are organic, and both are great for finishing pasta or fish (staples of Ligurian cuisine), or a plate of fresh greens.

For more on our visit last year to the Cottas’ estate, visit our travelogue page.

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