October 28, 2010

It's All About the OIL-

Living in the middle of olive orchards and next to a frantoio ( olive oil mill) there is nothing like the anticipation of new oil.

I was thrilled to be invited to an evening with the Maestro dell'Olio Fausto Borella, offered by Voiello pasta. Fausto opened the evening explaining the importance of extra vergin olive oil and promoted the concept of restaurants having an olive oil list and offering small personal bottles of oil to order to pair with your food as you would wine. PERFECT!

For years, Laudemia has been selling tiny bottles of their oil in Japan for restaurants to use. Fresh EVO is a real treat and cheap olive oil, often oxidized, can ruin a meal.

On a recent trip to Sicily, I was gifted with small bottles by two fabulous olive oil producers, Planeta and my friend Peppe gave me one from Madranova. The bottles can be shared and used in the evening or taken home and added to your pantry. After the lesson we were served a tasting meal,  showing the use of good olive oil with a meal. I hope this new concept is introduced to all restaurants. The idea would be to have a oil list, like a wine list, where you chose the oil you would like to use during the meal.

In Tuscany, we always celebrate new oil with simple recipes, such as Pinzimonio, a bowl if raw vegetables with Olio Nuovo and sea salt mixed together, the vegetables are dipped in and eaten as an appetizer or even as a main course, fennel, celery, carrots, bell peppers, radishes and even raw trimmed artichokes.

Our first main course was a Pappa al Pomodoro with a broccoli and bean bruschetta. Both recipes use olive oil in the preparation, cut a drizzle of your best EVO on top is almost mandatory.

The meal followed with a tris, three pastas, my favorite being a classical Naples mix of pastas which until recently were almost impossible to find outside of Naples.  Pasta Mista was a collection of the smaller broken pieces or mixed pastas sold to be used in soups.

The chef prepared a mixed bean soup using borlotti, zolfini and cannellini pureed and topped with the pasta mista, so we could see the shapes. Traditionally it is mixed into the soup. Here is my bean recipe if you want to try to make soup. Each of the beans has a different cooking time, so best to cook each one on its own and then mix. Most people know of this soup as Pasta e Fazool which is in dialect.

The color is not the best but the flavor is excellent

The other pastas were classics, broccoli with anchovy and EVO, cooked to a cream served on a smaller penne pasta ( turns out that that is the Tuscan preferred pasta) penne rigate, with the ridges followed by the classic Aglio, Olio Peperoncino, served with oven roasted tomatoes and breadcrumbs.

Inspired by the evening, I headed to my local frantoio, olive oil mill, with the students from my market to table class where we toured and tasted the new oil from 2010.

Each producer stays with his olives all the way through the process

waiting for the new oil

Here it  is

I hope everyone gets the chance to try new oil once in their lives.
you deserve the best!

I will follow up with a detailed blog-post on the process involved in creating a extra virgin olive oil and some tips on how to read labels and use this liquid gold!

Next up, I will be attending Fausto's Master of Oil lessons next month.

Thanks Voiello for the fabulous evening!

Looking forward to future meetings.


  1. Wow-wish I had been there. Maybe another year.

  2. Really beautiful, olive oil is. I love the idea of small bottles of olive oil to pair with food. We desperately need that here in the states. Restaurants serve sub par olive oil here for sure!

  3. wonderful! Thank you!

  4. Looking forward to the post about the extra-virgin olive oil. We have independent olive oil 'factories' (I don't know what they're called in Turkish) near us - may have to ask them can we go in to watch one day. :)

  5. Grazie Judy per questo tuo post di commento e speriamo di rivederti presto, magari all'evento di Roma :)

  6. How this brings back memories! Back when we live just outside of Rome, we lived just down the road from a frantoio... not up to Tuscan standards, perhaps, but it was heaven all the same.

  7. Serving bottles of olive oils along with food!!! quite a fresh and innovative idea...

  8. ciao judy! ti ho citata in questo post.. vieni a dare un'occhiata!! http://whitedarkmilkchocolate.blogspot.com/2010/11/penne-voiello-broccoli-e-zafferano.html
    a presto