Put aside any notions of bland, greasy stuff. If this oil is anything like the award-winning output in 2006 from the
It may be surprising to American consumers that such rich, nuanced flavor hails from a Californian, not Italian, olive oil. But, as Robbins points out, "The
You choose your fine wine with care. Why should your olive oil be any different?
Essential OilThought to have been first cultivated around 5000 B.C., the olive is one of the oldest foods known to man. The ancient world, from Greece to Egypt to the Middle East, prized its oil -- called "liquid gold" by the epic poet Homer -- as an anointment for athletes and royalty, an elixir for good health, a base for cosmetics and a salve for wounds. Under Roman rule, olive cultivation was spread through the entire Mediterranean basin. Production and trade of olive oil was as essential and influential to the economy then as crude oil is to today's global market (with the Roman Empire in place of OPEC).
On a MissionThere is a tradition domestically as well: The first olives of the New World were brought over by Spanish missionaries in the 1700s and planted all along the California coast, from San Diego to Sonoma. But, as Patty Darragh, executive director of the
Price Pressures"With the euro so strong, shops are looking domestic," says David Cooper of
|The Finest Domestic Olive Oils|
A sampling of the best U.S. olive oils.
B.R. Cohn Unfiltered California Extra-Virgin
($10 for 200 mL)
cloudy, deep golden color; clean, light, fresh flavor; try in place of butter in recipes or drizzled over vegetables
First Texas Olive Oil, Alfresco Extra-Virgin
($19.95 for 350 mL)
smooth, light flavor with slowly building pepperiness and hint of bitterness; try in mashed potatoes
Round Pond Italian Varietal Extra-Virgin
($25 for 350 mL)
grassy aroma; strong pepper and heat overtones with a spicy burn; excellent for marinades and cooking
Apollo Sierra Organic Extra-Virgin
($24.95 for 500 mL)
bright aroma; prominent bitter finish and lasting burn; good over hearty stews and pasta
Apollo Gold Series Barouni
($21.95 for 500 mL)
floral, subtle flavor with a brassy kick at finish; ideal with hummus or lamb
Robbins Family Farm Tuscan Blend
($18 for 375 mL)
nuanced aroma; full, balanced flavor with spice and bitterness peeking out from rich smoothness; great for dressings, dipping
Robbins Family Farm Ascolano
($18 for 375 mL)
rare single varietal with sweet aroma; mild with a luxuriant, buttery taste; transcendent with crusty bread
Allure Estates Extra-Virgin
($29 for 375 mL)
more pronounced flavor, pungent with pleasantly spicy finish; excellent over toasted, tomato-rubbed bread
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