Last weekend I attended a tasting of organic olive oils at the Whole Earth Center in Princeton. It was run by Carlo Momo, of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group (Mediterra, etc.).
First Carlo discussed olive oil in general (a product, he reminded us, that is not made locally, due to climate). He discussed what to look for in extra-virgin olive oils, such as low acidity, and emphasized that one of the best bits of information to look for on the bottle is the harvest date – I know from experience that while there is often a “use by” date, I’ve almost never found a harvest date, and I have splurged on some pretty expensive oils. Some bottles have a date code, but you have to know how to figure those out; maybe I’ll remember to look online some day for a “key,” if there is such a thing for imported products (different for each country?).
Our tasting, which included 4 oils, started with the relatively mild WEC bulk Spanish oil, from Spectrum, and proceeded to Zoe, another Spanish oil (in a colorful can) that had a greener flavor, on to my personal favorite, the somewhat pungent Olio Beato (“blessed”) from the Apulia region of Italay, and, finally, to the Manzella e Iannello, an estate oil from Sicily. That was also quite good, a little more floral, to me, than the Beato.
We had a nice chart for rating each oil on color, aroma, flavor, texture, and finish. A little bread between each one was a nice palate cleanser to remove leftover oil tastes. At the end. Carlo gave us each a tiny bottle of Olave olive oil from Chile, pictured here, which I gather is a new family endeavor (the Momo brothers’s mother lives in Chile). I haven’t opened mine up yet, but I’ll bet it’s good. Bring on the tomatoes!