“Good oil, like good wine, is a gift from the gods.”
~ George Ellwanger
On my recent visit to Toronto, I was invited to attend an olive oil tasting and dinner showcasing premium Spanish olive oils. It was a wonderful evening at Frida Restaurant with dishes prepared by three area chefs: Jose Hadad of Frida Restaurant, Luis Valenzuela of Torito Tapas Bar and Lola Csullog-Fernandez of Pimentón.
This was my first serious olive oil tasting and after tasting the oils – which collectively have earned numerous awards and are used by some of Spain’s best chefs – I was convinced that I couldn’t have chosen a better introduction. Dolores Smith, olive oil expert and president of The Olivar Corp., led the tasting of three of the oils that would be featured in the dishes that evening.
So what do you look for when tasting olive oil? According to Smith:
- A fresh and clean-tasting experience with no heavy, oily or pasty flavor.
- Flavor notes as the oil is rolled around your tongue. The better the quality, the more complexity and depth of flavors one can discern and the more lasting they are. A poorer quality olive oil will, in general, have a flat, one-dimensional, fleeting flavor.
- Bitterness – due to antioxidants – and pepper at the finish. Smith recommends always looking for some pepper at the finish. A well-balanced premium quality olive oil will have the same intensity of bitterness and pepper as intensity of flavors.
First, we tasted Dauro, an olive oil produced by Bodegas Roda. Claim to fame: used in six Nobel Prize awards dinners. I immediately detected the flavor of tomato vines that Smith mentioned would be present in this delicate oil. Dauro later made an appearance in an olive oil sorbet prepared by chef Valenzuela.
The following two oils, Full Moon and Oro San Carlos, are produced by Pago Baldios de San Carlos in Extremadura. Full Moon is made solely from aberquina olives and the olives are picked during the full moon in early October. This one had notes of green tomatoes and green grapes and was possibly my favorite for the night. The second oil, Oro San Carlos, is a coupage of arbequina and cornicabra. This one was richer than the previous two and had notes of ripe bananas.
A delicious six-course menu of Spanish-inspired dishes followed and I returned to Miami determined to put a little more effort into finding great tasting olive oils. Tomorrow, I’ll post some shopping tips provided by Smith after my visit.
999 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto
276 Augusta Ave., Toronto
681 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto
A big thanks to @maryluzonfood for inviting me to this dinner.