Just got the word…the shipment of extra virgin olive oil from Amelia in Umbria has arrived in Vancouver! And I’ve been told it’s extremely good this year. Fabulous news!
The 2014 harvest was hit particularly hard. Either the oil was in short supply or not available at all due to terrible weather conditions at the most crucial times. As the flowers on the trees were beginning to fruit in the spring it froze and then suddenly turned scorching hot, causing the trees to drop their olives. The summer was hot which brought on more problems, followed in September by a huge hail storm that knocked much of the remaining olives to the ground. On top of all this, the temperatures in the winter were not cold enough to kill off pests. Due to all the bad weather, a fly called Bactrocera oleae spread the disease known as “olive tree leprosy” to an astounding degree. We counted ourselves lucky to get any oil at all.
Some of you may not get excited by this annual event but not us! A few years ago we were given, what turned out to be a lucky “tip” and since then we have been privileged by the arrival of new oil every February/March.
With all the shenanigans going on with the adulteration aka fraud of olive oil these days, it seems you just can’t trust that your oil will be pure and from Italy if you are purchasing Italian oil. The recommendations are to look for bottles labelled “produced and bottled by” and also “harvest dates,” and I don’t mean “best by” dates.
Extra Virgin Olive oil is our go to cooking, drizzling or salad making oil throughout the year but that first taste of the new oil is something to be relished (she says rubbing her hands together).
So, once again, a great piece of bread in hand…it’s time to taste! Step 1: dip bread in oil, Step 2: a scattering of coarse sea salt, Step 3: fill our glasses with wine! Salute!
Since the time of writing this post, our friend Rebecca who imported the oil from Amelia has decided to retire. Fortunately we have managed to locate another source of oil imported directly from a farm in Puglia.
If you are interesting in finding out more information about Olive Oil, Nancy Harmon Jenkins is where to start with her book Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil. She is arguably the leading authority on olive oil and the healthy Mediterranean diet, and her book is an illuminating look at olive oil. Or check out her website: www.nancyharmonjenkins.com
And also this from Julia della Croce one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian Cooking and author of 15 cookbooks. She has been published in the New York Times, Food & Wine and The Washington Post to name just a few.