One of the many delights of traveling around Italy is having many opportunities to taste wonderful Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I have a fondness for the oils of Umbria. They differ in taste from Tuscan oils. Both are delicious. I fell in love with and brought home, an oil from that year’s harvest referred to as “new oil”, from a farm near Montefalco. It was a gorgeous green colour with an amazing flavour, with a slightly peppery aftertaste and properly olivey. We mourned when we used that final drop!
Last time we were in Panzano in Chianti, we picked up a bottle of new oil from one of our favourite places, Macelleria Cecchini, the oil comes from Dario’s farm. A couple of nights later, in Rome, we couldn’t hold out any longer and so unwrapped this treasure. Of course that required the “ceremonial tasting” of oil drizzled on some great bread bought earlier in the day, absolutely wonderful. The Macelleria makes a seasoning salt called “Profumo del Chianti”. Written on the label is “To open if necessary to breath in deeply for sudden attacks of nostalgia”. No kidding. We always return home with as much as we can, along with their fennel pollen.
There’s a problem with bringing home treats and that’s running out of them!
Luckily for us, a couple of years ago we went to a tasting of EVO imported from Amelia, Umbria. The olives are picked in November and the oil is received here usually in January. There is nothing like “new oil”. Do yourself a favour and try and get some. Amelia Oil also sells a gorgeous salt called Sale Alle Erbe delle Marlunghe (see below).
If you are traveling to California, look for the excellent EVO made by McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma. We were gifted a bottle and it was very good.
Mort Rosenblum wrote a book about olive oil and olives called “Olives”. He visited McEvoy Ranch and recommends their oil. If you are interested in learning a lot more about olives and the making of olive oil, this is the book for you.
Nancy Harmon Jenkins also has written about olive oil in “Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil” and “Extra-Virgins: Tasting the Best.”
ATTENTION Costco shoppers. Having done some research I discovered that Costco’s Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Toscano passed the University of California’s Test for EVO. The oil is tested for acidity, taste, etc. Harvested in November/December each year, it is new oil. This required a quick trip to get some and it is good. Did a comparison with Amelia Oil. Both wonderful but each have a different taste and finish. Try their Mediterranean Sea Salts Grinder too, great for travelling or a picnic!
Helpful link to making seasoned salt Sale Aromatico.
Since the writing of this post Rebecca the person who imported the olive oil from Amelia, Umbria has retired.