From the Historic Olive Groves of Andalucía to Your Cocina—a Stunning Trio of Extra Virgin Olive Oils from Spain!
- Hand-chosen by yours truly, each of these dazzling oils is pressed from a single native Spanish cultivar (a Club first)!
- Brimming with vibrant flavors and health-promoting polyphenols, all have been rushed to you at their peak—just in time to enliven your springtime menus.
- All three have been independently lab-certified to be 100 percent extra virgin.
- All three are Club exclusives, available nowhere else in the US!
Saludos desde España—greetings from Spain! This land has been an olive oil–producing powerhouse for millennia. Cultivated olive trees were introduced to Spain and Portugal an estimated 3,000 years ago, by the Phoenicians. It was the ancient Romans, though, who really got the millstones rolling. Spanish olive oil was highly prized, especially that of the Bética region (modern-day Andalucía). The Romans had insatiable appetites for olive oil—at the height of the empire, around 100 AD, the city of Rome consumed an estimated 25 million liters of olive oil annually—about 7 gallons per person, per year. Almost all of it was imported from Bética, and most was used for cooking and eating.
This massive flow of olive oil was transported in terra cotta jugs called amphorae, which were stacked in ships’ holds and sailed down the Guadalquivir River to the coast of Spain, then across the Mediterranean to Roman ports.
The same export dynamic continues to this day—much of the olive oil consumed in Italy and the rest of the world actually comes from Spain. To give you a sense of the output, the Spanish province of Jaén—an area about the size of Connecticut—produces more olive oil than the entire nation of Greece.
The Rime of the Olive Oil Hunter
“Sounds like you’d be in heaven,” I’ll bet some people are thinking. But the conundrum is that most of it is mediocre bulk oil. A sea of low-quality bulk olive oil. Olive oil, olive oil everywhere, nor any drop to drizzle.
The talented producers I aspire to work with, who are dedicated to creating olive oils of the very highest quality, comprise less than 1 percent of the growers in Spain. From an economic standpoint, I understand the bulk approach. The same grove will yield twice as much low-quality lampante (literally, lamp oil) than EVOO. Selling lampante to a refiner, who chemically strips the oil until it is flavorless and scentless, then tops it off with just enough actual olive oil to give it an aroma, is by far the “superior” economic proposition. But it’s inferior in every other way that counts—nutritionally, environmentally, culturally, and gastronomically.
“It’s an Entirely Different Product”
As soon as I touched down in Madrid, I was off to meet with Juan Peñamil Alba, the CEO and editor of Evooleum, an annual ranking of ultra-premium EVOOs from around the world. Juan and his daughter, Pandora, wanted to hear my thoughts on Spanish premium oils. I described how, over the course of more than a decade, I had admired the technological advances and the unstinting pursuit of excellence among the top Spanish producers. Juan concurred, adding that he felt the biggest changes had happened in the past five years—that we were all witnessing the birth of something new and transformative.
The three of us agreed emphatically on the importance of educating people about the worlds of difference—in flavor, aroma, and nutritional benefits—between top-tier fresh-pressed EVOO and supermarket oil. “It’s an entirely different product,” Juan proclaimed. “It should have a different name.” I agree!
One of Spain’s most esteemed producers labels his elixir “olive juice” to make this exact point: it is pressed, not extracted; fresh, not chemically preserved. (Read more about this incredible man below.)
My scouts on the ground reported a challenging season, regionally. Portugal had a terrible year, as did the northern parts of Spain. Our friends at Finca la Gramanosa, near Barcelona, saw only a quarter of their usual olive crop, and none of it was up to my exacting standards.
So, my Merry Band of Tasters and I piled into a rented SUV to head south, to Andalucía. The weather had been odd there, too. “This was the rst ‘normally timed’ harvest in ten years,” one of my scouts noted, meaning that the warmer temperatures during the past decade had moved up the schedule, so many producers were taken by surprise this year.
When we stopped for gas, I went inside to stock up on my favorite Spanish road-trip snacks: perfectly roasted and salted Marcona almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Up at the checkout, on a wooden stand, were two wine glasses, each with an inch or so of olive oil: it was an olive oil tasting, in a gas station. This little setup perfectly illustrates the impact of olive oil in this part of the world. It ows through the culture, touching every aspect of life. (I wish I could report that the olive oils at the pit stop were spectacular—wouldn’t that be a great story?— but I suspected they had been sitting out and getting stale for quite some time. I took a sniff, then opted to preserve my palate for the road ahead.)
Three Single-Varietal Stunners
I’d learned that Finca Gálvez, in the province of Jaén, had excellent results from their newest parcel of land, a grove of Arbequina trees planted six years ago. Arbequina is rare in Jaén, where close to 98 percent of the olive crop is Picual. How delighted and relieved I was to taste the very rst fresh-pressed oil from these young trees and pronounce it a winner!
Onward, to the province of Córdoba. Several years ago, one of my Spanish experts tipped me, “Great things are happening in Priego de Córdoba,” and he wasn’t talking about the mountain vistas and bubbling spring water. Five major olive mills are located within a ten-mile radius. Here, at Finca Aroden, I secured the rst-ever single-varietal Spanish Hojiblanco for my Club, and I am ecstatic—as are the devoted artisans who produced it.
What could we do for an encore? As my dear friend, the lauded producer Paco Vañó, has said time and again, “Consistency is key.” His sizable groves at Castillo de Canena, in the Guadalquivir River Valley, give him extra discretion over which special fruit he can earmark for me and my Club. You are in luck, my friends—Paco and I blended an extraordinary Picual from two separate plots, just for you.
These three exclusive extra virgin olive oils, each featuring a unique Spanish cultivar, represent the very nest Spain has to offer. Enjoy them, share them, use them in your favorite dishes, and celebrate one of the greatest historic collaborations between humans and Mother Nature.
T. J. Robinson
The Olive Oil Hunter®
P. S. Cold weather may cause cloudiness in your bottles of olive oil. Pay it no heed, as this has no effect on quality or avor. Simply bring your oils to room temperature and most of this cloudiness should disappear. For best results, always store your oil in a cool, dark place, preferably in a cabinet away from heat and light.
This Quarter’s First Selection
When we saw the familiar brick-and-stone façade of Finca Gálvez, with its pile-up of antique millstones out front, my Merry Band of Tasters and I laughed over our unsettling reception the previous year. You may recall we were halted in the parking lot by members of Spain’s intimidating Guardia Civil—police officers dispatched to safeguard the notary responsible for guaranteeing the authenticity of an olive oil sample Finca Gálvez was submitting to a government-sponsored competition. Fortunately, my messenger bag passed inspection!
I first visited this family-owned mill in 2005, soon after it harvested its inaugural crop of olives. In the ensuing years, I’ve watched with satisfaction as Finca Gálvez evolved into the top-tier olive oil producer it is today.
Unlike many producers I’ve met, the Gálvez clan did not start out in the olive oil business, with inherited olive groves and a long history of olive oil production. Recognizing that there was an unsatisfied need for premium Spanish olive oils, the family invested in two local olive farms in 1999, La Casa del Agua and Los Juncales. (The land is rich with flora and fauna, the spaces between the trees roamed by deer, lynx, and even the occasional Egyptian mongoose.)
The family also built a state-of- the-art almazara (olive mill) to ensure they had as much control as possible over the olives. As much control as Mother Nature will allow, anyway!
For nearly two decades, the Gálvez brothers, José and Andres, have worked tirelessly to produce the best extra virgin olive oil they can, winning numerous awards, including first place in the intense fruitiness category in the prestigious Mario Solinas Quality Award in New York City.
Encouraged, the family added more acres to their holdings in the Guadalquivir River Valley. The oil I selected for you this quarter—a stunning Arbequina—came from Finca Gálvez’s newest grove, which is, Andres said, at a higher elevation than their other properties. Compacted red soil minimizes tree growth, which is actually beneficial to the olives, as they have less competition from foliage for water and nutrients; this amplifies their flavors and aromas.
This is only the second time I have selected an Arbequina from this producer. Generally, Arbequina as a varietal did not fare as well in other parts of Spain this year. This example is exceptional, a testament to Finca Gálvez’s unwavering commitment to quality.
Weather-wise, the region enjoyed fairly good conditions overall during the growing season. The olives flourished during the hot days and cool nights (characteristic of the Mediterranean) throughout the summer months, and the harvest was well-timed. (All the Finca Gálvez groves are within easy driving distance, meaning the fruit can be milled within two hours of being picked.)
In addition to making consistently fine olive oils, Finca Gálvez has committed substantial resources to teaching consumers about the special benefits of premium olive oil. In 2016, they added a bright classroom to the mill, where they host olive oil seminars, tastings, and food pairing exercises for tour groups from all over the world, as well as a small but handsome tienda (retail store).
Their wall of awards continues to expand; this year, they were once again named a Jaén Selección, one of only eight farms (including Castillo de Canena) to receive the honor from a eld of more than 70. They also won gold medals in 2018 in the world’s largest olive oil competition, the NYIOOC, held annually in New York, as we learned during a bountiful lunch at a local taverna. Their oils have often been included in Flos Olei’s top 20, earning the phenomenal score of 98.
The family’s passion and talent will be evident from the moment you open your bottle. I am thrilled to be able to bring this delightful, food-friendly olive oil to your table.
Impressions and Recommended Food Pairings
An appealing golden green in the glass, this oil is very vegetal on the nose, teasing with whiffs of grassiness, sweet baby greens, and golden apple. A secondary wave of aromas carries Tuscan kale, green banana, white pepper, honey, macadamia nuts, and almonds. Very clean-tasting in the mouth—mild, but surprisingly full-avored. My tasters and I noticed the nuttiness of fresh walnuts, almonds, and macadamias, along with fennel, lemon peel, and Belgian endive. Basil-like sweetness with a touch of bitterness. The nish is lingering and well balanced, with a touch of white pepper spiciness.
Pair this lovely Arbequina with eggs, potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, olives, roasted red peppers, fresh cheeses, beans, grains, chicken, mild sh, jamón, and salads using tender lettuces. It can also be used in baked desserts.
This Quarter’s Second Selection
“WE WON, WE WON!” The small office of Finca Aroden erupted with shouts of jubilation when I announced that their exquisite Hojiblanco would be featured as a Club selection. “It’s been a lot of years,” said general manager Luis Torres. “This is like winning an award!”
My Merry Band of Tasters and I first visited Aroden in 2011, drawn by its prizewinning reputation and charmed by the small, hands-on production team, led by Luis and mill supervisor Fernando Sánchez. The picturesque area surrounding Priego de Córdoba—a richly historic village, with white-stucco buildings lining the narrow, winding streets, and mountains rising in the near distance—is home to several important olive mills, and Aroden has been a fixture on my annual Spanish itinerary.
You see, ever since I donned the hat of the Olive Oil Hunter, I’ve been on a quest to nd the perfect single-varietal Hojiblanco to share with my Club members—an oil that expresses the personality and complexity of this cultivar in an authentically Iberian way. (An olive varietal can exhibit surprisingly different flavor profiles when grown in another region of the world. For instance, an Hojiblanco from Australia would be notably different from a Spanish one.) And for eight years running, Aroden’s oils, while invariably excellent, had not captured exactly what my palate was seeking.
This year was different. Perhaps the deciding factor was the weather: temperatures were hot in the summer, ideal for olives, and cooled off earlier in the autumn than they had in the past decade. Luis recalls that on the day they picked the Hojiblanca olives, the temperature was around 65˚F—quite a bit below the usual. The olives were rushed to the mill to be crushed and pressed, with temperature-controlled equipment helping to preserve the perfumes and flavors in the resulting liquid gold.
Fernando and Luis are the longest-tenured members of the team. Both men have been with Aroden from its beginnings, in 2002. Five olive-growing families in this region banded together to purchase state-of-the-art milling equipment, with the collective aim of producing ultra-premium olive oil. They knew of Fernando’s talents through his work with Subbética, a prestigious nearby producer regarded as the “anchor” of this area.
The five family farms that comprise Aroden all operate independently; collectively, they possess close to 1,900 acres of olive-producing land, with some groves dating to the 13th century. Clara Isabel Parejas, Aroden’s charismatic business manager, who recently joined the team, informed me that the total olive trees number 81,400. (I wonder who counted them all!) The groves lie in the foothills of Mount La Tiñosa, the tallest peak (5740 ft) in the Sierras Subbéticas range, which curves along the southeast corridor of Spain. “The trees around the mountain produce the best olive oil,” Luis confided. “We like to say, ‘La Tiñosa has magic.’”
Similar to other top-quality olive oil producers in Spain, Aroden has a super-premium label, CLADIVM. The term comes from the Latin scientific name of a grassy plant plentiful in this region, Cladium mariscus (known in North America as the less mellifluous “sawgrass”). Luis explained that they chose the name and its antique spelling (with “V” for “U”) to invoke the Roman heritage of olive oil production in Spain. For centuries, under Roman rule, this very region produced nearly all the olive oil consumed by the city of Rome. The striking tile design of the Cladium label also reflects this region’s deep historical connection, with a mosaic reminiscent of the meticulously inlaid stones that pave many of the streets in Priego de Córdoba.
The olives destined for Cladium oils are the best of the best—during the growing season, Luis keeps close tabs on all the groves, observing and sampling the fruit as it develops in order to reserve the very finest for Cladium.
This divine oil, sophisticated, fruit-forward, and complex, is the very first Spanish Hojiblanco to be featured as a selection of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. The entire Aroden team and my Merry Band of Tasters are so proud to share it with you!
In Case You’re Wondering: Linguistically speaking, when referring to the oil, it’s “Hojiblanco,” with the masculine ending, “-o”; when referring to the olive variety, it’s “Hojiblanca,” with the feminine ending, “-a.”
Impressions and Recommended Food Pairings
Hojiblanca is a tenacious cultivar that helped Spain satisfy the Roman demand for more olive oil during Caesar’s reign. Gold with green hues, it is revered as a natural sauce. My tasters and I detected peach and tomato leaf on the nose, along with grapefruit, romaine lettuce, carrot, pear, wheatgrass, celery leaf, and culinary herbs like basil and parsley. Other flavors assert themselves in the mouth, including spicy greens like arugula, watercress, mustard greens, and radicchio. Extraordinarily well-balanced, with the tang of lime zest, the restrained bitterness of celery leaves and parsley, and the fire of Szechuan peppercorns. Expect an elegant finish.
This oil is very versatile in the kitchen and will complement a number of foods, among them grains and pulses, pasta, paella, shellfish, salmon, roasted fruits, tomatoes, salads featuring dark leafy greens, whole grain breads, dark meat poultry (such as duck or goose), rabbit, and root vegetables.
This Quarter’s Third Selection
I recently ate the best egg, ham, and potato dish of my life at Palacio de Gallego in the Andalucían town of Baeza. Smoked over olive wood, the potatoes were mashed to a silky, creamy texture, topped with a fried egg, crispy shards of jamón ibérico, white prawns, and shaved truffle— all surrounded by a jewel-like moat of extra virgin olive oil.
Since my dining companion and longtime friend Francisco “Paco” Vañó is olive oil royalty, a restaurant with “palace” in its name seemed appropriate.
Yes, Paco and his sister, Rosa, are pillars of the Spanish olive oil community, scions of a family that’s owned olive groves in the province of Jaén since 1780. Both, though, cut their teeth in the corporate world before bottling their rst olive oil in 2003. They named their mill “Castillo de Canena” after the Vañó family castle, an imposing 16th-century property that overlooks the town of Canena.
It is remarkable what these forward-thinking siblings have accomplished so far. For the seventh consecutive year, Castillo de Canena was awarded the highest score possible—99— from Flos Olei; its Picual was once again named a Jaén Selección, one of only eight from the province.
The duo has the highest respect of other producers, thanks to their relentless pursuit of excellence, innovative techniques (such as harvesting at night when the weather is cooler), and industry contributions. In 2011 the family endowed the “Castillo de Canena Luis Vañó Research Award” in their father’s name. The University of Jaén and UC Davis oversee the annual contest, which has yielded additional evidence of extra virgin olive oil’s effectiveness in reducing cancer risk.
The consistent quality of this producer’s oils is a marvel. I ask Paco, “How do you do it?” He jokes that Mother Nature is his business partner, but she owns 51 percent! “It’s not a matter of making the very best oil in the world,” he said. “That is simply not possible every year. The point is to make consistently excellent oils, year in and year out.” Absolutamente!
Castillo de Canena has vast holdings, an advantage over many producers. It owns more than 3,700 acres of olive trees (including some 50 test plots) in the Guadalquivir River Valley—mostly Picual, Arbequina, and Royal, a rare local varietal. Paco can select olives from many microclimates come harvest time.
But the company’s real ace in the hole is Paco himself. His intelligence, passion, and fearlessness has earned Castillo de Canena the title “Best Olive Oil Company in the World” more than once. He uses some 20 markers for identifying the optimum time for picking the olives, though I’m sure his extraordinary intuition plays a huge role in his success.
This year, rain delayed the harvest by nearly three weeks. But the clouds had a silver lining. My Merry Band of Tasters and I were very impressed with two early-harvest Picuals, representing the top 5 percent of the estate’s olives. With the help of master miller Duccio Morozzo, who was traveling with us, we created a complex and exclusive Picual blend for Club members.
Catching up with Paco is always one of the highlights of my annual trip to the Iberian Peninsula. The relaxing atmosphere in Palacio de Gallego made this year’s reunion especially pleasant. Paco was in great spirits, excited not only about the union of the two Picuals but also about his recent engagement. Happily, his fiancée loves olive oil, as Paco is dedicated to preserving and extending his family’s olive oil legacy for generations to come. To that end, he’s overseeing the construction of a new multimillion-dollar mill, featuring the latest equipment and technology. (“Excellence is a habit,” Paco says.)
Naturally, we took our Picual blend to the restaurant and splashed it on dishes like the aforementioned egg and potato creation, grilled artichokes, anchovies, and a platter of grilled mixed meats. It is sensational with food, as you will soon discover!
Impressions and Recommended Food Pairings
Intensely green, this bold earlyharvest oil leads with herbal scents like rosemary, fennel, wild mint, sage, and arugula, bright and vibrant like a freshly made pesto sauce. Dark leafy greens like Tuscan kale, fresh walnuts, kiwi, and lime zest give it olfactory complexity. On the palate, you’ll experience the pleasant bitterness of chicory and dark chocolate, with echoes of rosemary and walnuts. My tasters also noticed basil, wheatgrass, coriander, and celery. Well-calibrated with a powerful and protracted finish.
Use it to complement assertively flavored foods such as grilled meats; oilier sh like tuna, sardines, or mackerel; roasted lamb or lamb tagine; strong-flavored cheeses, such as aged Manchego; pesto with walnuts or Marcona almonds; salads made with dark leafy greens; strong-tasting vegetables like brussels sprouts, radicchio, artichokes, or broccoli rabe. It would even be terrific drizzled over dark chocolate ice cream or mousse.
Olive Oil and Health
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, December 7, 2018
A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers insights from a cohort study of women in the US who reported consuming a Mediterranean-type diet.
Researchers found a 25 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease among study participants who consumed a diet rich in plants and olive oil and low in meats and sweets. The team also explored why and how a Mediterranean diet might mitigate risk of heart disease and stroke by examining a panel of 40 biomarkers, representing new and established biological contributors to heart disease. The team’s results are published in JAMA Network Open.
“Our study has a strong public health message that modest changes in known cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly those relating to inflammation, glucose metabolism, and insulin resistance, contribute to the long-term benefit of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease risk,” said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, PhD, a research fellow at the Brigham and at the Harvard Chan School.
The current research draws on data from more than 25,000 female health professionals who participated in the Women’s Health Study. Participants completed food intake questionnaires about diet, provided blood samples for measuring the biomarkers, and were followed for up to 12 years. The primary outcomes analyzed in the study were incidences of cardiovascular disease, defined as first events of heart attack, stroke, coronary arterial revascularization, and cardiovascular death.
The team categorized study participants as having a low, middle, or upper Mediterranean diet intake. They found that 428 (4.2 percent) of the women in the low group experienced a cardiovascular event, compared to 356 (3.8 percent) in the middle group, and 246 (3.8 percent) in the upper group, representing a relative risk reduction of 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively, a benefit that is similar in magnitude to statins or other preventive medications.
The team saw changes in signals of inflammation (accounting for 29 percent of the cardiovascular disease risk reduction), glucose metabolism and insulin resistance (27.9 percent), and body mass index (27.3 percent).
“While prior studies have shown benefit for the Mediterranean diet on reducing cardiovascular events and improving cardiovascular risk factors, it has been a ‘black box,’ regarding the extent to which improvements in known and novel risk factors contribute to these effects,” said corresponding author Samia Mora, MD, MHS, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at the Brigham and Harvard Medical School. “In this large study, we found that modest differences in biomarkers contributed in a multifactorial way to this cardiovascular benefit that was seen over the long term.”
Reference: Ahmad S, Moorthy MV, Demler OV, et al. Assessment of risk factors and biomarkers associated with risk of cardiovascular disease among women consuming a Mediterranean diet. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(8):e185708.
Kudos from Club Members
Instead of flowers, send oil!
TJ, I just want to let you know I just received my bottle. I opened it and took a spoonful right away even though it’s only 8:30 in the morning, but I didn’t care, I had to taste it. And you are right, it is amazing! I will be sending your oils as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, and Christmas instead of flowers. Because your olive oil has the perfect bouquet! Thank you so much for caring enough to make perfection.
Great pressing report
Compliments and kudos!!! I just want to start off this morning by thanking you for the wonderful olive oil and the great pressing report about your hard work and dedication! Because of your great oil, nothing compares to staying at home and trying new recipes!
Dear T.J.—My family prefers your Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil over all others, because in addition to the full and lively flavors, I know that I’m using something that was harvested this season and is indeed still fresh! Before using this oil, I didn’t know that the olive oil on the store shelves is typically from prior years’ harvests and is therefore most likely rancid…yuck! I definitely prefer fresh-pressed and have enjoyed using it in many different family meals. Many thanks!
Like sipping a fine whiskey
I got my first shipment…The flavor is out of this world. It’s almost like sipping a fine whiskey. I used some in a special dinner and it adds so much flavor. I’m hooked.
Definitely the BEST!
I was so happy today when my OO arrived. Love it….Thank you so much! I’ve been putting the mild from my last shipment on multigrain toast, rather than butter… I love it too. You have made a believer out of me. Fresh pressed is definitely the BEST!
Love of oils = Love of sharing oils
I just wanted to share again how much I have enjoyed being a part of the club. I have given 3 friends a taste of your product and so far, 2 have joined. My favorite seed catalog came this week and I am ordering vegetable and herb seeds to go with my oils. Taking a sample to my friends who raise gourmet garlic and I’m betting they’ll be joining too. I love the oils but almost as important is the love of sharing them. I am having a delightful time. Thank you.
You, and the Band Of Merry Tasters, have spoiled me on olive oil FOREVER! I can no longer stomach the bulk cans I used to buy. I take spoonfuls of straight oil as a treat! It is so healthy and delicious, I go through my order in a fraction of the time before the next installment. You have ruined me! While I prefer the stronger varieties, the milder ones are still better than anything I’ve had before. Like fresh maple syrup, fresh olive oil nourishes the whole being. Many thanks (you rascal!)
New club members
Hello! I just got my first bottle within the past week or so, and my wife immediately set up a double-blind taste test for me (using numbers hidden under each plate to identify which was which). She bakes fresh artisanal breads whenever she has a snow day (she’s a teacher), and we wanted to see how four different olive oils might compete against one another by dipping the fresh-baked bread in each of the four oils. These oils were all labeled as EVOO, and all were well within their “consume by” dates. The four were a big ol’ jug from Costco, Bragg (Greece), Thrive (Italy), and the Pruneti (Tuscan blend), from the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. I was actually blindfolded, so I couldn’t even see what difference there might be in color, consistency, etc. We added nothing, not even salt, to the oils or the bread before tasting. I expected to not really be able to tell much difference, as I’m no connoisseur, and also because I’ve heard that even experts perform miserably on double-blind taste tests, rarely able to distinguish super-gourmet from run-of-the-mill, whether for wine, olive oil, or anything else. The first one I tried was very good, the second was a bit more bland but still good, and the third indistinguishable from the second. Then the fourth one blew my mind with how much better it was than all of the others, and in fact better than any I’ve ever tasted—and I’ve lived in Spain and traveled extensively in olive-growing regions in Italy. We had basically expected a 3-way tie for first between Bragg, Thrive, and the Fresh-Pressed oil, with the Costco far behind, but instead we had one oil far ahead, with the other three far behind. Well, it turned out that the stellar one was in fact the Pruneti, the Bragg placed a distant second, and quite surprisingly, Thrive was indistinguishable from the Costco. So, very nicely done—we’re excited to be new club members, and look forward to the next shipment!
Thank you, TJ, I have been a lucky club member for several years. I feel so fortunate to receive these wonderful oils. I live in a geographically remote location (the middle of the Pacific) so I very much appreciate the freshness and expedient delivery of the olive oils. My all-time favorite so far has been the single-variety Cobrançosa from Casa de Santo Amaro in Portugal. I love the Picuals! Finca Galvez from Spain. Picual by Alajandro Sanz of Spain. I also loved Petralia from TerraMater in Chile. This new Australian Picual by Leandro Ravetti was the first bottle I opened, and it is added to my favorite list. You have ignited my passion for olive oils. I look forward to the quarterly selections, your adventures, and the recipes. I have been researching, preparing my small section in Paradise for a few olive trees.
Like a child at Christmas
I must tell you that since I first started using your olive oil, I get excited like a child at Christmas time every quarter, waiting for the arrival of my new shipment. It is delicious. I use it for most everything I cook, including eggs. My favorite side—escarole sautéed in your olive oil and chopped garlic. (I call that “Italian collard greens”).
- Scrambled Eggs with Sumac and Pine Nuts Sumac was long used in the Mediterranean to add tartness to dishes before the Romans introduced lemons. It gives an exotic “spice market” flavor to scrambled eggs. view recipe
- Escalivada This is Spain’s answer to ratatouille, a platter of smoky, jewel-like vegetables in a simple olive oil and sherry vinaigrette. Serve on bread, with cheese, or with meat orfish. view recipe
- Lentil and Chorizo Soup (Lentejas con Chorizo) A small restaurant on the road from Madrid to Jaén serves incredible lentil and chorizo soup. It might be my “favorite bite” of this trip. view recipe
- Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) We’ve included two tricks to make this the best gambas al ajillo you’ve ever eaten. First, we infuse extra virgin olive oil with slices of garlic, which are later used as a crunchy garnish. Second, we marinate the shrimp with a secret ingredient—baking soda—to make the cooked shrimp extra “poppy.” view recipe
- Beef Tenderloin Tips in Garlic Sauce This is a house specialty of an Andalucían restaurant the late Spanish food authority Penelope Casas used to visit with her husband. It can be served as part of a tapas spread, or when accompanied by side dishes, as a main course. We especially like it with sautéed mushrooms and onions. view recipe
- Monkfish with Tomato Garlic Sauce Any mild-flavored, firm-textured fish can be served with this garlicky tomato sauce. Keep a close eye on the garlic slices as you brown them. Ingredients 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 heads of garlic plus 4 large cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced 1 tablespoon sweet paprika 1 1/2 cups canned… view recipe
- Manchego and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes Rich and creamy with a puddle of olive oil on top, these mashed potatoes make a perfect accompaniment to roast chicken. Use a ricer for the fluffiest texture. view recipe
- Roasted Asparagus with Marcona Almonds and Manchego Spanish Marcona almonds, once obscure in the US, are now widely available. They are usually roasted in olive oil, then salted. If you cannot find them, substitute regular toasted almonds or hazelnuts. view recipe
- Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Sea Salt Olive oil adds intrigue and richness to this decadent dessert. Heat the egg-and-milk mixture very slowly in a heavy-bottomed pan to avoid curdling the eggs. If desired, substitute 1 tablespoon of orange-flavored liqueur for 1 tablespoon of coffee and garnish with candied orange peel. view recipe
- Radicchio Grilled with Olive Paste and Anchovies Colorful Treviso, which resembles Belgian endive in shape and texture, often appears in markets in the spring. Feel free to use the more familiar round radicchio, if Treviso is not available. view recipe