Celebrate the Best Olive Oils from Italy!

AwardWinnersMarchApril2014

Just as with wine, there are international olive oil awards. The most recent award presentations can be found through the links below, and these very rare olive oils, available for purchase in the U.S. at Olio2go, are listed here.

BIOL International, March 2014

Olio Capitale: Annual Competition held in Trieste, March 2014

SOL/Vinitaly: SOL is held in together with Vinitaly in Verona, April 2014

New York International Olive Oil Competition, April 2014

 

The following award winners are currently available at Olio2go. All are extra virgin olive oils from the most recent harvest.

Centonze Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, Gold, Silver

 

DeCarlo Arcamone

BIOL, ExtraGold

Olio Capitale: Finalist, Intense

 

Frantoi Cutrera Primo DOP

BIOL, ExtraGold

NYIOOC: Gold, Robust, Tonda Iblei

 

Fratelli Colletti Extra Virgin Olive Oil

NYIOOC: Gold, Robust, Biancolilla

 

Gianfranco Becchina Olio Verde

NYIOOC: Silver, Medium, Nocellara del Belice

 

La Poderina Toscana Oro DOP Seggianese

BIOL, Gold

 

La Poderina Toscana Argento

BIOL, Gold

 

Marfuga L’affiorante

BIOL, Gold

 

Olio Librandi Nocellara del Belice (Tenute Librandi Pasquale)

BIOL, ExtraGold, 1* BIOL Calabria

 

Quattrociocchi Olivastro

BIOL, Gold

NYIOOC: Gold, Medium, Itrana

SOL: Bronze, Organic

 

Fattoria Ramerino Primus Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, ExtraGold

 

Tenuta di Capezzana

NYIOOC: Gold, Medium

 

Titone DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

BIOL, ExtraGold

NYIOOC: Silver, Medium

 

Don’t miss out! Some of these are already in short supply at Olio2go.

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Click to Listen: Taste Matters Episode with Nancy Harmon Jenkins (#125)

We’ve just discovered the Heritage Radio Network and enjoyed listening to this superb interview with Nancy Harmon Jenkins. The interview covers many important topics — Olive Oil is covered in the first 11 minutes — including our central focus on Italian Olive Oil. The Mediterranean Diet, lifestyle, cooking with olive oil, Slow Food, and ancient grains (like farro) are included. Listen to Nancy and then visit Olio2go for Italy’s Finest Olive Oil.

Zeppole (credit Maria Gagliano, Open Salon)

March is a month of change and hope, hope and change.

Whether we’re talking about the weather (“in like a lion, out like a lamb”), the Ides of March (a turning point in Italian history), St. Patrick’s Day (ridding the island of snakes) or St. Joseph’s Day (saving Sicily from  famine), the events of March are about change and hope for better times.

Growing up in a community that had two Catholic Churches (one Italian and one Irish), early on I understood that these feasts were celebrated by cultural communities. Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) to wear green, and to enjoy green beer, parades, and parties (and a respite from Lent).

In many communities, St. Joseph needs a new PR agent—to boost things up a bit or for international parity. Just two days after St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph is recognized with his feast day on March 19, Festa della San Giuseppe, that reaches the level of Father’s Day in Italy. Wear red, come together with the community, dine on Minestrone and Fava Beans, and enjoy special sweet treats.

Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. St. Joseph’s credit is due for saving the Sicilians from famine during the Middle Ages. So, the Italians also get a festival day during Lent. In Italy, entire villages come together for a feast.

Enjoy these sweet recipes for your St. Joseph’s Day traditions:

Sfinge (many spellings!)

- Remember the Italian Catholic parish mentioned in the beginning of this article? You can find the recipe from my home parish cookbook, posted online here.

Zeppole: a style of Italian doughnuts, fried, dusted with sugar, cinnamon, and honey—or filled with a yellow cream

- Rosetta Constantino’s Southern Italian Desserts  includes a recipe for Zeppole, with a variation for Sfinge. You can see the recipe for Zeppole di San Giuseppe here on One for the Table.

Pignolatta or Struffoli: reminiscent of the seeds of a pine cone, think of little friend pastry balls, and covered in honey, nuts, or chocolate

- See recipe and photo here at Roxana’s Home Baking.

Cannoli – pastry tubes filled with a creamy mixture, often made with Ricotta. We recommend a blend of Ricotta and Crèma di Pistacchio DOP Bronte! If you have cannoli shells, use this filling or start a new tradition with the recipe.

Enjoy the festivals of March. Be sure to celebrate the new season!

PistacchioPicStitch

Pistacchio Ricotta Cream Puffs

This  is a recipe crafted by necessity. The filling is magical in Cannoli, but we had no Cannoli Shells, and no time to make them. These mini pastry shells are available in in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. 

Bake puffs according to package directions. While puffs are baking, grate 1 Tablespoon of chocolate and set aside. Chop or break remaining chocolate in 24 small pieces to fit in the center of each small cup.

Remove puffs from oven. Working with puffs on the baking sheet, push centers in, and insert a piece of chocolate while puffs are still hot. Let cool 10 minutes before filling.

In a bowl stir together 1/2-3/4 cups each of Crema di Pistacchio and Ricotta. Gently spoon mixture into the pastry cups. Dust tops with grated chocolate. Place on a decorative serving platter.

Best kept at room temperature and served within three hours. If refrigerated, place on a warmed platter 20 minutes before serving.

Jan2014Large

We love it when visitors come into our shop in Fairfax, Virginia. First time visitors are inquisitive about the differences from the “extra virgin” olive oil they know and use every day (the common grocery store type). For a distinct experience, we provide a first taste of an intense, robust selection, most often from Tuscany or Umbria. Cough, cough.

Immediately, they grasp: there’s something better than the olive oil they have purchased elsewhere. True, authentic, artisan-produced extra virgin olive oil from Italy. (Yes, we are all about Italy).

Our online customers have already become fans of great olive oil. They’ve been buying the good stuff for almost 14 years!

What are the characteristics of fresh olive oil?

Zingy, layered aromas, and distinct flavors. Some possess aromas of fresh leaves, such as crushed olive leaves, or the scent of tomatoes leaves as you brush by them in the garden. Others exhibit the rich fruity smell of an orchard or fruit market. Sicilian oils in particular bring forth grassy aromas, and others may note herbaceous scents.

Take a taste. Does your olive oil evoke symphonies of flavors — a melange of artichoke, tomato, herbs, and grassy notes? Notes of apple, bananas, almonds, walnuts or flowers may come forth. Next comes the finish. It may be pungent and peppery (insert cough here) or milder and buttery–and still full of flavor.

How is fresh olive oil made?

Top quality extra virgin olive oils are harvested from just-ripening fruit. The olive fruits release relatively small amounts of oil at this early stage, but they are bursting with the healthy chemical properties many are seeking. The olives are picked when young, and bruised fruit are discarded. They are pressed within mere hours of picking, in carefully controlled conditions. (Those same trees, if picked weeks later, would yield significantly more oil, but it would be of lower quality, and likely sold in a mass market operation).

Why are there so many extra virgin olive oil labels at Olio2go?

Just as there are many wine selections to pair with food, there are many olive oil matches. If you know wine, you know that the grape varieties, micro-climate, year of harvest, and the winemaker’s skill make a great difference. There are significant parallels in the world of olive oil. (And, many Italian wine makers also produce excellent olive oil). Whether you are purchasing a Tuscan olive oil for your grilled steak, or a Calabrian for your grilled vegetables, or a Sicilian for your fennel salad, the pairings will be perfectly matched.

What else should I know? 

By tradition, some producers decant, while others bottle quickly after harvest. Early bottlings are most often unfiltered, yielding oils that appear cloudy or even milky. Some producers label their first bottles as Novello, meaning new oil. Whether labeled or not, all extra virgin olive oil, promptly pressed, bottled, and (first) released is Novello.

Just as there are many wine competitions with producers striving for top quality recognitions, there are important olive oil competitions and awards.

Does olive oil get better with age? 

No! All olive oil will degrade in time. If you start with a top quality olive oil, store it well, and use it promptly once opened you will best enjoy this culinary magic. Some varieties of olives yield oils that last longer than others. Selections crafted from Frantoio olives (known best as a Tuscan variety) and Moraiolo olives (known best as an Umbrian variety) are among those with the best lasting power.

As an olive oil ages, those distinct flavor characteristics fade. In time, the olive oil will taste flat and fatty–and eventually rancid.

Our goal is to sell the current harvest olive oil as soon as it is available — and to sell out long before the “best by” date.

What should I know about olive oil storage? 

Extra virgin olive oil is best kept in a cool, dark place. The selections on our shelves are for show. We prefer to “pull” your oil from our cool, low-light, temperature-controlled warehouse, where the oils has been kept in the dark, in shipping cartons.

Where can I learn more about great olive oil?

Click these links for more information on the anatomy of a great label, authenticity, organic certifications, and the most recent olive oil awards.

How can I purchase great olive oil?

You can purchase online at Olio2go. There’s no minimum purchase and we offer a 10% case discount on six or more. Orders are shipped promptly! If you would like auto-shipping or an Olive Oil Club, please complete the form below to provide your address and budget. We will respond via email.

Cover_GloriousVegetablesOfItaly-469x640_1508ribo

Eat.More.Good.Food. That’s a great New Year’s resolution and this January we’re guided by Domenica Marchetti’s new cookbook, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.

Domenica takes a fresh look at Italian vegetables and prepares them with style and flair. Of course, the rapini is a simple preparation that brings memories of my grandparents’ garden and kitchen table.

We’ve enjoyed the Ribollita – and here’s the diet tip. If you’re cutting carbs, just cut back on the croutons and you’ll still have a great, rich vegetable-loaded soup. Of course, the Ribolitta is not vegetarian, as it includes a bit of pancetta in the preparation with the soffritto. (Soffritto is the saute of pancetta, onion, and carrot, adding much flavor to the soup).

The complete recipe for Ribollita has been made available for us to share with you. Please enjoy the recipe here. Ribollita_Recipe_GloriousVegetables

Throughout the book, you’ll find meats, cheeses and seafood are used as  seasoning, while the vegetables are the stars of the main event. Chapters are designated “Appetizers,” “Garden Soups and Salads,” “Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi, and Polenta,” “Pizza, Calzoni, and Panini,” “Main Courses,” and “Side Dishes.” Rounding out the book are a few desserts – incorporating great vegetables Chocolate Zucchini Cake, and a Winter Squash Panna Cotta. Still hankering for more? Preserves and condiments crafted with vegetables: Tomato Marmalade and Pickled Snacking Peppers. Great basics like Fresh Egg Pasta Dough and Simple Tomato Sauce are here too, inspiring confidence for all.

We’ve also made the Capricci with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cream. It was fabulous on a cold winter night. We didn’t have the Capricci so we chose Festoni. Gigli would be another good choice to capture all of the goodness in this recipe. This might not be the best way to start your diet, but this is a very satifying meal, when served with a salad!

We highly recommend The Glorious Vegetables of Italy. Make it part of your New Year’s Resolution.

New2014

With the arrivals of the new harvest olive oils comes the first of the new awards and recognitions for high quality extra virgin olive oil.

The 2014 Flos Olei, published early in the harvest year, is the well regarded Marco Oreggia review of olive oils. In general, Flos Olei 2014 awarded the 2012 harvest selections. It is seen by many as a watchdog of consistent quality in the industry with the idea that the recognized producers provide consistently exceptional olive oils from year to year. You can see last year’s list here.

In the 2014 edition, Flos Olei’s Top 20 awards three of the olive oils we regularly carry. Most notably, we already have Quattrociocchi’s Olivastro Bio 2013, awarded Best Olive Oil from Organic Farming by Flos Olei’s Marco Orreggia.

From the Top 20

Farm of the Year: DeCarlo (new harvest coming soon)

Best Olive Oil from Organic Farming: Quattrociocchi Olivastro Bio 2013

Best Extra Virgin Intensely FruityFrantoio Franci Villa Magra

The Flos Olei guide lists an abundance of well-regarded olive oil producers (we will carry harvest 2013 selections – they are in stock or on order):

Trentino Alto – Adige

Frantoio di Riva, 2013 in stock!

Emilia Romagna

Tenuta Pennita, Alina in stock

Toscana

Tenuta di Capezzana, 2013 in stock

Oliveto Fonte di Foiano, samplers in stock, more expected in early January

Frantoio Franci, selections

La Poderina Toscana, Oro and Argento in stock

Fattoria di Monti, three selections in stock

Fattoria Ramerino, Guadagnòlo Primus in stock!

Marche

Azienda del Carmine, arriving January 2014

Umbria

Az. Agr. Marfuga, L’affiorante in stock

Lazio

Società Agricola Colli Etruschi, arriving soon

Az Agr Bio Americo Quattrociocchi, in stock

Campania

Madonna dell’Olivo, Raro and Itrans selections available

Puglia

Az. Agr. DeCarlo, restocking soon

Calabria

Tenute Pasquale Librandi, selections arriving January 2014

Sicily

Azienda Agricola Antonino Centonze, Arriving January 2014

Frantoi Cutrera, in stock

Planeta, selections available

Azienda Agricola Ravida, selections available

Azienda Agricola Biologica Titone, 2013 coming soon!

Colatura di Alici from IASA

It could be said that anchovies are polarizing – in a love them or hate them gastronomic way. Yet, anchovies and anchovy sauce are all the rage. National “news” publications: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal have all covered this flavor sensation.

Anchovies are often added to pasta or vegetables in the southern lands of Italy. A classic preparation includes vegetables sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and dissolved anchovies. Or garlic, anchovies, capers, and a dash of spicy red pepper! With IASA Colatura di Alici, you can sneak in a bit of anchovy flavor without stocking anchovies in the kitchen. That’s the way some of us have been known to train the palates of family members! Also known as Garum, this fish sauce, Colatura di Alici adds that quick hit of umani — that hard to describe “extra” flavor sensation.

Colatura di Alici is a product of authenticity and tradition from Cetara, near Salerno in Campania. To watch a video on how the artisans create Colatura di Alici from Cetara in Campania, click this link.

Here’s a review of notable recent writing on Anchovies and Colatura di Alici (Anchovy Sauce).

Chicago Tribune Article on Venice includes references to Colatura di Alici on the Cicchetti of Venice

SFGate’s restaurant review of A16 delves into the menu: “roasted broccoli with Calabrian chiles and colatura di alici, a traditional Campanian condiment made of anchovy”

Ready for a midnight – or midafternoon snack? Stock up on good butter and good bread before viewing this New York Times video on Anchovies!

A recent edition of the LA Times features Nancy  Silverton’s Master Class on Anchovies.

We are re-sharing our friend, Vincent Scordo’s, review of Colatura di Alici and our own post, Acquired Tastes?

Ready to purchase Colatura di Alici — or Spicy Anchovies? Start here.

FarroSalad_Large

 

This can be served warm as a side dish or cooler as a salad. This makes a large family or party sized dish. With the nutty grain and addition of fruit (raisins) this dish brings forth Sicilian style, making a Sicilian olive oil the perfect choice. As always, our salad recipes are guides – your tweaks and adjustments may be marvelous improvements.

 Ingredients

Farro Perlato from La Valletta

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

1/2 lb. Baby Carrots

1/2 jar Villa Cappelli Sun Dried Tomatoes (10 oz jar), slivered

1/3 C Raisins

1/3 C Sun dried tomatoes, slivered

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Sicilian preferred)

Cattani Organic White Balsamic Vinegar

Vincotto Fig Vinegar

Salt

Pepper, freshly ground

Note: Our farro package contains 3 cups of dried farro. When cooked, this yields ~8 Cups. You can cook the whole package and freeze the portion not needed immediately. It defrosts well.

Start cooking the farro. Prepare the vegetables. Cool the farro, add the roasted vegetables, sundried tomatoes, raisins, and dressing.

Cook 1.5-2 C Farro by placing the farro in a pot, covering it with 1” of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and proceed.

Roast vegetables:

Preheat oven to 450F.

Trim ends and cut carrots lengthwise.

Trim and halve Brussels sprouts. (Quarter large Brussels sprouts).

Drizzle with 2-3T olive oil and roast at 450F for 20 minutes.

Dressing: Recommended proportions: 1:1:1

- 1/3C full and fruity Sicilian extra virgin olive oil. Olio2go Suggests: Primo, Ravida, Planeta

- 1/3C Cattani Organic White Balsamic Dressing

- 1/3C Vincotto Fig Vinegar

Toss together. Let flavors marry for 20 minutes, then serve.

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We’re always pleased when a reputable news organization does an accurate story on olive oil. NPR just ran an updated story on olive oil and we’re here to support most of what they had to say.  To Get the Benefits of Olive Oil Fresh May Be Best. You can listen to the story and read associated content (and see pictures here).

What we liked:

Accurate information on fresh olive oil, storage, and how soon to consume a bottle once opened.

What we didn’t like: 

The named California producer, label photo included, that shows a best-by date more than two years from harvest. Yes, we understand that the oil may be well stored under optimal conditions, but when we find this oil in the grocery store, under harsh lights, it’s doubtful that it has lasting power to reach that long best by date.

If you are seeking the Antioxidants (polyphenols and hydroytyrsol) as mentioned in the story, you can read our blog post on polyphenols here, and on the Olio2go site, you can find them here.

Some cultivars will hold their flavors longer than others. We always recommend that you store your bottles in a cool, dark place, and once opened consume within four months.

A reminder on our mission:

It is our goal to sell out of each harvest’s oil as the new oils arrive. While many selections will have even longer best by dates, it is our goal to provide you with the freshest Italian extra virgin olive oil, with each turn of the harvest.

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It took us too many years to read Bill Buford’s Heat. We’re not huge fans of the Food Network shows, so reading about a chef, just because he’s on TV, isn’t quite to our liking. What incited this reading of Heat? The references to Dario Cecchini (of Macellaria Cecchini) and Italian culture. Dario is the famed Dante-quoting butcher of Tuscany — a larger-than-life character in the Chianti. You can visit him in Panzano, but read the book first!

On page 147, there’s this amusing look at the eaters in the food regions of Italy: “…a northerner was called a “polenta eater,” mangiapolenta, just as a Tuscan is a bean eater, and a Napoletano is a macaroni eater, the belief in Italy being not that you are what you eat but that you are the starch”.

On page 216, Dario Cecchini was introduced:  “So I told her about Dario Cecchini: He, I’d become convinced was the person I should work for.  He didn’t know me, and I had no idea if he’d take me on.”  Buford’s story then intertwines connections with Mario Batali, Mario’s father, Armandino, and “food writer Faith Willinger [who] had  discovered fennel pollen at Dario’s, the stuff she secreted in luggage and smuggled across the Atlantic…”

While Bill spends most of his time with Dario learning to cut meat, his take on Profumo del Chianti is revealed: “The next day we prepared salt. We took bags of it, mixed with dried herbs, and put it though a grinder to make a herbal concoction called Profumo del Chianti. The result was indeed aromatic and evocative of summer camp when I was eight, having been finely pulverized, was fluffy and snow-like. For the next six hours, five of us poured fluffy salt….Hadn’t machines been invented to do this sort of thing?”  (p.226).

Grab a copy of Heat and enjoy Bill Buford’s inside look … especially his time with Dario Cecchini. And, when you’re ready, go to olio2go.com for your own Profumo del Chianti.

BrusselsSproutsSaladx

Perfect for late summer, grab some Brussels Sprouts and marry them with the flavors of orange and cranberry!

This is not a conventional recipe, with exact measurements and precise weights. This is a taste-and-adjust recipe.

Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and sliced thin
Radicchio or Red Cabbage, a small portion, perhaps 10% of the Brussels Sprouts volume
Dried Cranberries, aka Craisins, 1/4 to 1/2C
Agrumato Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Acetaia Cattani Organic White Balsamic Vinegar

Place thinly sliced greens and reds in a bowl. Add dried cranberries. Drizzle with Agrumato Orange from Abruzzo. Add salt and pepper as desired. Toss. Add Acetaia Cattani Organic White Balsamic Vinegar. Toss again. Let sit for 20 minutes for the flavors to blend before serving. Enjoy!

Note: If you would like to mellow these robust flavors, subsitute another great extra virgin olive oil, such as Frantoi Cutrera’s Primo or Ravida, for a portion of the Agrumato Orange.

shelves

Here’s a secret: The companies doing the most for the artisanal olive oil producers in Italy are small businesses. Those of us importing from farms and selling hard-to-find high quality olive oils are also small businesses. It’s our goal to match those authentic, artisanal extra virgin olive oils with true fans of “the good stuff.”

When our phone rings, we answer it with hope that we can provide a level of service and information, beyond what customers can find on the web site.

Occasionally we find those efforts to be disappointing. On just one day this week, we had the following requests:

An American, who had been in Italy on business and received a gift, wanted something similar. It was determined that he was seeking an Agrumato-style extra virgin olive oil. We discussed the process of crafting the oil and the selection we had in stock. His closing remark: someone would be going to Rome next month and he would have that friend shop for it in Rome!

Then, we had a call from a Canadian seeking a particular olive oil. We don’t have it. It is available in Canadian grocery stores for $5 per liter bottle. Maybe it is extra virgin olive oil. Or maybe not.

In quick succession, there was another call from someone who couldn’t find his preferred oil on our site. He was looking for an offer for six 500 ml bottles of “Italian extra virgin olive oil” for $50. Nope, it’s not ours. And at that price point, it is likely not extra virgin.

It’s great that many see Olio2go to be an expert resource. At Olio2go, we’re happy to teach about the merits of top quality Italian extra virgin olive oil and artisanal food products. But, the calls are proof that the good stuff is not for the masses. Know the difference, know the value, and recognize that your purchases help support true artisans.

Credit: Maremma Magazine

Credit: Maremma Magazine

The fabulous olive oil from La Poderina Toscana was recently reviewed by Emperor Wines and they had great thinks to say about Davide Borselli’s super premium extra virgin olive oil.

You can see the review here. The original review is titled, That’s why the Oro is Unique.

You can buy Oro here.

StillLife_OliveOil

Here we are in the middle of summer with this glorious bounty of produce — and the Italian specialties that bring it to life — packed with flavor for your dining!

Left to right:

Olio Librandi Organic, Calabria
San Macario, Lucca, Tuscany
Verrini Munari Oro, Modena, Emilia Romagna
Olio Verde, Sicily
Zisola DOP, Sicily
Cattani Organic White Balsamic Vinegar, Modena, Emilia Romagna
Luna Vera, Sardinia
Crudo, Puglia

If you’re looking for a flavor-filled experience, with Italian authenticity, we invite you to visit Olio2go enjoy the fabulous treats in this photo.

Funeral_posters_MSStep back in time with a visit to a small town in Molise. On our journey to Mirabello Sannitico we encountered this notice board, a small town tradition that dates back decades, if not centuries.

Pre-dating electronic communications, this is a lovely way to tell the community of a death so that all may know of the details and arrangements. Italian funerals are traditionally open to the community, and all in the village or town are welcome to attend.

We are highlighting two of the posters as examples.

Luciano D’Imperio’s funeral Mass was to be held at 1700 hours (5:00 pm) on Martedi (Tuesday) the 26th at the Chapel of San Rocco.

In the lower position on the right, the notice is one of sympathy rather than a notice of the funeral service. The co-workers of Emilia posted this notice to express sympathy to Emilia on the occasion of the the death of her Padre.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this bit of Italian culture as another look at life in the small towns of Italy. While we were touring this small town near Campobasso, at 4:45 in the afternoon, we noticed a quiet gathering emerging from a nearby building. We were told there was a chapel in that building and that all had just come from a funeral. The town had been very quiet and a gentle hum returned after the funeral service.

We are often asked how often we travel to Italy on buying trips (usually twice a year) but there’s one event in the U.S. that brings amazing choices to our shores.

The Fancy Food Show just concluded in New York. As always, we found a phenomenal range of food (olive oil from China?), ice pops made with kale, and more cheese than you can imagine. We stayed true to our mission to find the best selections from Italy!

We met with favorite producers such as Salvatore Cutrera from Frantoi Cutrera, and planned the fall purchases, starting with the zesty Frescolio. We also learned the the flavorful Cutrera Gran Cru Cerasuola has the highest polyphenol level of any of the Cutrera monocultivars. It is over 600!

The most unusual selections were those from Pantelleria, a tiny island far south of Sicily, and very close to Africa, known for the production of capers. Look for these in a few months!

In 2012 our big discovery was pistachio cream from Sicily, an item that has sold out quickly. Sometimes we don’t know just how good our good ideas are. We didn’t find any pistachio cream this year, so we are glad that connection has already been made for our discerning customers. We should be well stocked again by September.

We had a fortuitous moment when we met with a very experienced importer who is bringing in a very exclusive line of hard to buy olive oils. (Those wine producers can be tough negotiators). Look for new selections from Tuscan wine producers after the next harvest.

The Rogers Collection, known to us as an olive oil importer, is also a big mover in the cheese world. We scheduled our visit to their booth to attend this special and ceremonial opening of a new wheel of Parmiggiano-Reggiano DOP. This is a 36-month aged cheese, and even more special in that it is from brown cows. There are only four producers who craft DOP Parmiggiano-Reggiano from brown cows’ milk. Fabulous.

Other photos show our friends from Italian Products, Compagnia del Montale of Modena, pasta and rice selections, and the grand show floor, in the Italy Pavillion.

Welcome to Osteria La Porta

Welcome to Osteria La Porta

 

Planning a trip to Tuscany? We’re thrilled to share this recommendation.

Following a late start and a long drive, we had the great fortune of enjoying lunch in Monticchiello di Pienza with Pamela Sheldon Johns at her good friend, Daria’s restaurant, Osteria La Porta. If Pamela’s name isn’t familiar to you (it should be!), we carry her fine cookbooks, such as Cucina Povera, and her olive oil, Pace da Poggio Etrusco.

Pamela and Carol, looking at Pamela's Cucina Povera

Pamela and Carol, looking at Pamela’s Cucina Povera


With Daria and Pamela Sheldon Johns

With Daria and Pamela Sheldon Johns


We arrived toward the end of the lunch service and were charmed by the hospitality and excellent food. My craving for pasta with truffles, though not on the menu, was promptly addressed. Other gems included perfect duck, and a pasta ravioli with pumpkin.

The restaurant was charming, the host welcoming, and the town was ever appealing with a view toward Pienza.

Certainly a day or two spent in the area of Pienza or Montepulciano, could only be enhanced by a visit to Osteria La Porta.

A view from the mezzanine

A view from the mezzanine


Lunch in Tuscany was followed by dinner in Bologna. Don’t miss that upcoming post.

SlowFood2013

Slow Food 2013 has just been released and we have a copy that is fresh off the press (just like great olive oil)!

The guide carries notations on 1131 quality olive oils from 772 notable producers in Italy.

LE CHIOCCIOLE (The Snail): best representation of the values and qualities of Slow Food.

The following abundant selections are in stock at Olio2go.com!

Emilia Romagna

Tenuta Pennita

Lazio

Colli Etruschi

Sicily

Titone

Gli Olio Slow: representing quality cultivation, sustainable practices, and good value for oils from the named region.

Lazio

Olivastro, Quattrociocchi

Grand Oli: excellence in respective category for organoleptic quality, adherence to the territory customs, and native cultivars

Campania, Madonna dell’Oliva, Raro

Emilia Romagna, Alina from La Pennita

Puglia, Torre di Mossa from DeCarlo

Sicily, Titone DOP

Toscana, Ramerino Dulcis

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano Gran Cru

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano, Frantoio Monocultivar

Toscana, Frantoio Franci, Villa Magra Gran Cru

Noted Estates

Trentino Alto-Adige, Agraria Riva del Garda

Emilia-Romagna,  Tenuta Pennita

Toscano, Fattoria Ramerino, Primus e Dulcis

Toscano, Tenuta di Capezzana

Toscano, Fonte di Foiano

Toscano, Frantoio Franci

Toscano, La Poderina Toscana

Toscano, Frescobaldi

Toscano, Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini, Poppiano, Laudemio

Toscano, Fattoria di Monti, Razzo, Monti

Umbria, Marfuga

Lazio, Americo Quattrociocchi

Lazio, Colli Etruschi

Abruzzo, La Quagliera

Campania, Madonna dell’Olivo, Raro, Itrans

Puglia, De Carlo

Sicilia, Centonze

Sicilia, Frantoi Cutrera

Sicilia, Villa Zottopera

Sicilia, Planeta

Sicilia, Titone

Sardegna, Sebastiano Fadda

For the full list of Slow Food – recognized olive oils currently in stock at Olio2go, click here.

Zurich2013_Six

Dateline Zurich:  12th International Olive Congress Zurich Olive Oil Awards were announced in late April and we are please to announce that we have six of the selections in stock.

The Zurich Awards are very selective, with only five (5) Gold Awards granted. Of the five, two were Italian oils — but other “sibling” selections from producers whose oil we carry at Olio2go.  Those were selections from the producers, Titone and Cetrone.

Zurich granted eight (8) Silver and 16 Awards. We have Silver and Award winners in stock (if we could, we would rename “Awards” as Bronze).

Silver Award Winners:

Frantoi Cutrera Gran Cru Nocellara Etnea

Frantoi Cutrera Gran Cru Nocellara del Belice

“Awards”:

Frantoi Cutrera Primo DOP Monte Iblei Gulfi

Frantoi Cutrera Gran Cru Cerasuola

Frantoi Cutrera Gran Cru Tonda Iblea

Titone Bio DOP Valli Trapanesi

Ravida

All of these selections are from Sicily!

Certainly, Frantoi Cutrera has some magic in winning awards. You will find their oils on may award lists. We recommend the Tasting Set Sampler or the full Connoisseur’s Set.

The full Zurich Awards list can be seen here.

Image credit: Slow Travel

Image credit: Slow Travel

In the advance of the Olio Capitale fair in Trieste in March, two of us spent the week touring Italy, with hundreds of kilometers added to the car.

From Rome to Campobasso, to Monticchiello (near Montepulciano in Tuscany), to Bologna, to Venice to Trieste, our diesel fill ups totaled euro 150 for an Alfa Romeo that counted as a mid-size vehicle (comparable to the Audi A3).

We rented from Avis and spent 50 Euro extra to have snow chains in the car, a legal requirement if were were to be pulled over. We also obtained International Drivers Licenses. This modern-day Thelma and Louise pair rented a manual transmission car, to save money of course. Like riding a bike, our ability to clutch and shift returned. We had given up manual transmission vehicles many years ago, when an extra hand was needed to tend to small children!

Knowledge of road signs, a decent map, and GPS are recommended, as you will see below.

We brought a Garmin GPS (updated for Italy) and it was worth every penny. On the first day we drove from Rome to a very small town, Cercemaggiore, in the area of Campobasso. There were turns instructed by the GPS that we failed to believe, but were undoubtedly true. In the region of Molise we found many “roads less traveled”. Once we learned to completely trust the GPS, and regained our sense of humor, we enjoyed each and every turn and vista.

We should have refreshed our memories on road signage, because some signs are far different from what we know on roads in North America. Knowledge of road signs, together with GPS is recommended. Please believe us on this one. (See the road signs tutorial on the Slow Travel Web Page).

There was only one place where the GPS caused more trouble than good. In the small mountain town of Mirabello Sannitico, we were on a steep narrow cobblestone road, lined closely by houses, when the road suddenly became one way, in the opposite direction!  Unfortunately, this little detail was not recognized by the GPS, which recommended a hairpin turn down a flight of stairs. And, maybe we should have taken another look at the roadsigns?

A young man noticed our plight (with the attitude that he had seen such foolishness before), and settled into the driver’s seat to back the car up the narrow winding path. We were most grateful to him for rescuing us! He was very kind to the two foolish American women.

Bonus! There’s another very significant way that a GPS beats a map. On our drives through small towns and on the autostrada, our GPS announced an alert in advance before each radar “traffic tutor”.

But don’t forget the map. With a map you can plan ahead. In some medium sized towns and larger cities, you will want to be aware of the ZTL, zones of limited traffic. When making hotel reservations, we asked about these to ensure directions not crossing the the ZTL. Fines for driving in a ZTL without a proper permit can be quite costly! You may wish to Google ZTL and Bologna (or whatever town) to find out if you need to be concerned about a ZTL on your travels. Here’s another good guide to ZTL.

While I love the ease of train travel, the car allowed us freedom to explore places that can’t be reached by train. Plan ahead. Be Fearless. Have Fun.

For more information on Speed Cameras in Italy, read this post.

nyiooc

The premier New York International Olive Oil Competition was a great success with three days of speakers and the culminating awards ceremony for top extra virgin olive oils. Kudos to the folks at Olive Oil Times for their new event.

It is always fun to attend an olive oil event, and we enjoy the casual, in the hallway, meetings for what one can continue to learn about the world of olive oil. The presentations included formal tastings, discussions on price and value, the pride of countries (notably Spain and Italy), international agreements, and olive oil frontiers (olive oil in India).

When the awards were announced, Italy led the pack in the number of total medals!

We currently have several of the award winners, with more enroute across the Atlantic.

In Stock Now (all 2012 Harvest):

Fratelli Colletti, Silver

Ravida, Gold

Cutrera Primo DOP, Gold

DeCarlo, DOP Torre de Mossa 2012, Best of Class

Titone DOP Valli Trapanesi, Gold

Albereto, Badia a Coltibuono, Silver

Crudo, Gold Medal

Quattrociocchi Olivastro, Gold

Franci, Toscano IGP, Best of Class

Franci, Villa Magra, Best of Class

Franci, Olivastra Seggianese, Gold (coming soon)

Luna Vera, Sardinia, Gold

Olio Librandi, Monocultivar, Carolea, Organic, Gold

 

The full list of awards can be seen here.

Agrumato Lemon HerbFabulous food blogger Adri Barr Crocetti took Agrumato Lemon & Herbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a test drive.

“…because the olives are pressed simultaneously with the lemons the oil exhibits a remarkable harmony of flavor…”

She packs recipe ideas into her post…with snacking ideas and a marvelous Fresh Mushroom and Herb Salad. If you are wondering about the Nepitella as we were, AllThingsTuscan has a post as well.

Click here for the blog post and recipes.

Nepitella seeds can be purchased here.

Los Angeles Olive Oil Award Winners ~ Currently in Stock!

Los Angeles Olive Oil Award Winners ~ Currently in Stock!

(Updated 4 June 2013)

Each year the LA Awards are among the most exciting. They have just announced the Northern Hemisphere Awards and we currently have seven selections in stock (with more coming soon).

These producers are also to be praised for their year-over-year quality. A win-place-or-show is no fluke. Their medals and ribbons are truly a testament to their traditions of excellence.

Available Now!

Best of Class, Best of Show

FATTORIA RAMERINO Robust, Primus, Guadagnolo 2013

BEST OF SHOW – INTERNATIONAL – Robust, BEST OF CLASS, GOLD MEDAL

Gold

VILLA ZOTTOPERA GOLD MEDAL Medium, Organic, Chiramonte Gulfi 2013

PLANETA DOP, GOLD MEDAL Robust, Val di Mazara DOP

 

Silver

FRANTOI CUTRERA Primo DOP, SILVER MEDAL Robust, Tonda Iblea, Monti Iblei DOP 2012

OLIO VERDE, SILVER MEDAL Robust, Nocellara del Belice, Sicily

FATTORIA RAMERINO, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Dulcis, Guadagnolo 2013

CRUDO, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Ogliarola, Puglia

Bronze

FONTE DI FOIANO, BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Moraiolo, Tuscany 2013

FRESCOBALDI LAUDEMIO, BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Tuscany

TITONE BRONZE MEDAL Medium, Sicily

Coming Soon!

OLIO LIBRANDI, SILVER MEDAL Medium, Nocellara Del Belice, Organic, Calabria 2013 (coming soon!)

The full list of awards can be seen here.

Biol_2013

(Updated 4 June 2013)

This week we received updates on the competitions, Ercole Olivario XXI 2013 and Biol 2013.

Marfuga has informed us that their olive oil was noted as the best extra-virgin Italian olive oil in the Ercole Olivario 2013 competition. Many congratulations to all!

Among our current list of olive oils and producers, these producers received recognition at Ercole Olivario 2013.

Franci Toscano IGP

Franci, Villa Magra

Cutrera Primo DOP

Marfuga (we carry Marfuga L’affiorante)

The remarkable oils at BIOL 2013 are:

LABEL, COMPANY, REGION, COUNTRY, MENTION, EXCELLENCE, In Stock status?

  • Librandi Monocultivar Nocellara Del Belice, Azienda Agricola Librandi Pasquale, Calabria, Italia, GOLD, EXTRAGOLD, Coming Soon to Olio2go
  • Quattrociocchi Olivastro Itrana Etichetta Nera, Azienda Agricola Americo Quattrociocchi, Lazio, Italia, GOLD, EXTRAGOLD
  • Primo Bio, Frantoi Cutrera Di Cutrera G.&C. Snc, Sicilia, Italia, GOLD, EXTRAGOLD, Primo DOP in stock
  • Titone DOP Valli Trapanesi, Azienda Agricola Biologica Titone, Sicilia, Italia, GOLD, EXTRAGOLD, In stock now
  • Centonze, Azienda Agricola Antonino Centonze, Sicilia, Italia, GOLD, Coming Soon
  • Gudagnolo Primus, Fattoria Ramerino di Filippo Alampi, Toscana, Italia, GOLD
  • 46 Parallelo Biologico, Agraria Riva Del Garda, Trentino Alto Adige, Italia, GOLD, We have Uliva and 1111 from Agr. Riva del Garda
  • Argento, La Poderina Toscana, Toscana, Italia, SILVER,  Argento is available
  • Affiorante, Azienda Agraria Marfuga, Umbria, Italia, SILVER, In Stock Now

This is an update to our earlier post on the 2013 olive oil competitions, which can be seen here.

(updated 4 June 2013)

Awards1_cc

The first of the new harvest’s award winners have been announced. These olive oil competitions are very important in the world of top quality olive oil, as they recognize the year’s worth effort and care. In this blog post, we will take a look at the announcements from Olio Capitale, SOL d’Oro, and Marco Oreggia’s Flos Olei 2013.

Olio Capitale was held in Trieste in early March, and among the awards, there are a number of olive oils that are well known to us. (For some of the oils listed below, we are still awaiting the 2012 selections).

Olio Capitale Awards

Finalists/Medio Intenso
Cetrone Intenso
Franci Toscano IGP

Finalist/Fruttato Intenso
Fattoria di Monti Razzo 2012
DeCarlo, DOP Torre de Mossa 2012

Semi Finalist/Medio Intenso
Quattrociocchi Olivastro
Semi Finalist/Fruttato Intenso
Fonte di Foiano, Gran Cru 2012
Cutrera Primo DOP 2012
Fattoria Ramerino Primus 2012

SOL d’Oro will be held in Verona in April, and they have already released their 2013 winners, named by producer.

Organic
Riva del Garda, Silver – We have Uliva DOP Garda-Trentino.
Titone Bio DOP Valli Trapanese, Bronze

Special Mention
Olio Librandi (coming soon)
DeCarlo, DOP Torre de Mossa 2012
Centonze

Fruttato Intenso
Villa Magra, Franci, Gold
Madonna dell’Olivo, Raro, Bronze

Special Mention
Cutrera Primo DOP

Medio Fruttato
Bronze, DeCarlo, Terre del Mosso DOP
Monovarietale
Gold, Cetrone Intenso

Flos Olei 2013

The 2013 Flos Olei, published early in the harvest year, is the well regarded Marco Oreggia review of olive oils. In general, Flos Olei 2013 awarded the 2011 selections. It is seen by many as a watchdog of consistent quality in the industry with the idea that the producers provide consistently exceptional olive oils from year to year.

The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the World, DeCarlo Torre di Mossa DOP

The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Organic Farming, Quattrociocchi

The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil Monovarietal – Intense Fruity, Cetrone – Intenso

The Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blended – Intense Fruity, Madonna dell’Olivo Raro Denocciolato

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Having consumed inordinate amounts of olive oil,  it is time to reflect on Olio Capitale.

When planning the trip, Trieste seemed to be at an awkwardly distant location for a major fair.  If you are planning a trip to Italy, the best way to describe Trieste’s location is 2 hours past Venice!

Stunningly gorgeous, perhaps more Eastern European than Italian, Trieste is a gem, and we would not have ever found this wonderful city without Olio Capitale.

Olio Capitale is a conference and “fair” or trade show devoted to olive oil.  With few exceptions every booth featured Italian olive oil. The producers ranged in size from 650 liters to hundreds of thousands of liters. The beautiful setting was a building on a pier in the harbor of Trieste. From the outdoor pathways we could see snow capped Alps through the haze.

Two floors were devoted to olive oils booths, a kitchen stage, and gathering places, including an oil bar where all could be tasted (without the polite judgments one makes in front of the producers).

It is always good to meet old friends and is certainly felt that way to meet Americo Quattrociocchi. We are big fans of his bold Olivastro, noted his new award for Best Organic Mill,  and began plans to add his rich and flavorful jams to our line.

We also met Nino Centoze from Sicily after having received many emails from him. We think his oil and packaging are outstanding. Look for it soon.

Onto the new trends: the square bottle, like that of Olio Verde. Several producers have one, including Centonze. Another new bottle is the silver bullet, stainless steel bottle (suggested to be sold with one liter tins). For the first time, we saw a deep purple bottle (rather than dark green), as effective against the light waves as dark green. That holds a Sardinian oil we enjoyed.

As always there were discussions on competitors’ bottles, in the most polite way, of course. They noted the clear bottles (use it quickly) and even the light green of Laudemio glass (with general agreement to keep it in the box). I discovered one producer sampling with bottles of 2011 oil and departed that booth rather quickly!

Our next post will take a look at the event’s award winners!

 Raccolto 2012 Selections

As we introduce each of our our Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils, there are two questions we answer most often:

(1)     What is your favorite olive oil?

That’s something akin to which is your favorite child! I may have a new favorite on any day of the week, but most often, I have 2-3 to select from in my home kitchen (compared to 10-15 in the office kitchen). Some pairings work better or while others work best. Something luscious and fruity for an antipasto platter? Something peppery for a steak? Elements of spiciness on simple beans?

Today’s answers: Capezzana from Tuscany, Fonte di Foiano (Tuscany), Raro (Campania).

Tomorrow’s answers: Cutrera’s Primo DOP (Sicily), La Poderina Toscana DOP (Tuscany), Colli Etruschi (Lazio).

Next week is wide open — there are so many to choose from!

(2)     The other question is… “you don’t use these for cooking, do you?”

In all honesty, I do. The first several inches of any bottle are used for the best, freshest presentations, but when I get down to the last inch, I’m eager to move onto the next bottle. So the precious-but-little oil goes by the tablespoon onto roasted vegetables, in pizza dough, on focaccia, and even in a quick sauté of vegetables (like sautéed shredded Brussels Sprouts!)

With the right tools and the best ingredients, cooking is more fun and eating is very satisfying and great meals inspire the next meals!

by Barry Sears

This book references the olive oils at Olio2go

We receive many requests for olive oils with notable levels of hydroxytyrosol as indicated by the peppery flavors.

Many of these requests come to us from readers of Dr. Barry Sears’ book, The Anti-Inflammation Zone. (Olio2go is mentioned on page 92). Those readers and other Zone Diet followers have been looking for top olive oils for their diets.

As such, they have been on a quest for olive oils with high levels of hydroxytyrosol. As there is no standard test for hydroxytyrosol, the best indicator is the polyphenol level.

Several Olio2go selections have been popular choices. We have included polyphenol levels or indicators in the descriptions for the following extra virgin olive oils to help Zone Diet followers make their selections:

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi Spoleto (2011, 510 mg/kg)

Marfuga L’affiorante (2012, 534 mg/kg)

Fattoria di Monti Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2012, 722 mg/kg)

Fattoria di Monti RAZZO Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2012, 751 mg/kg)

Villa Magra Gran Cru (544)

Olio Beato Organic (level not stated, but a very popular selection)

Tucci_CookbookOver a hundred years ago, my Tucci ancestors emigrated from Campobasso. Syracuse is the first point of residence that I remember and a branch settled in Cortland by the early 20th Century. We still think of Cortland as the home to our branch of the Tuccis.

Several years ago, we had the opportunity to meet Stanley Tucci’s sister, Christine – on Christmas, no less. It seems that if we search long enough we could find a common point between our Tuccis in Campobasso and theirs in Calabria.

Just this week, while reading Vincent Scordo’s Blog, we realized that Stanley Tucci’s The Tucci Cookbook, was something that would be great fun to have, hold, and display at home. (We have a copy in the store, if you would like to see it). As soon as Olio2go’s holiday rush subsides, I plan to savor each page as I look through for recipes common to our families’ heritage.  

I may be responsible for a blip in the book’s sales as I purchased several copies for gifts for Christmas 2012.

As the world knows, the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. was hit by a destructive storm named Sandy during the last days of October. It was a significant concern for us, first for our own office, store, and warehouse, and also for our colleagues who have warehouses in the path of destruction in New Jersey.

The storm caused tidal waves of concern for importers.  Fantastic holiday goodies, such as panettone, were just reaching our shores.

At Olio2go, we had an import of Novello crossing the ocean, destined for the then-closed Port of New York and New Jersey. While the situation is abating, we are currently awaiting the customs clearance of our weather-delayed new olive oils so that we can deliver this Novello extra virgin olive oil to your doorsteps and holiday tables.

And, this week, as many businesses were getting back to normal, we were informed of a very destructive storm in Europe.  A very high Aqua Alta imposed itself on Venice, while the stors lashed through Tuscany leaving four dead in its wake. Our producers in Tuscany have found it difficult to harvest and mill this week. And quick decisions have been made regarding the timing of the next import. This article from the UK’s Daily Mail Online includes several photos of the destruction, all the way to Rome!

We continue on our mission to bring you the best in Italian olive oil, but wanted to share with you how weather events, both here and there, impact both the production and importing of these fantastic artisanal extra virgin olive oils.

Photo Source: Gazzetta del Sud Online. Accompanying story can be read here.

There it was! In Florence, Learning the Secrets of Tuscan Food

I’ll admit, the photo of bottle of traditional balsamic vinegar (from the Modena consortium)** is what first caught my eye when I grabbed the Travel section of The Washington Post on Sunday, November 4, 2012. It called out to me, to cast everything aside, to delve into this view of food as Italian art for the senses.

Our favorite paragraph centers on tradizionale balsamico…

“She explains that traditional balsamic vinegar, not to be confused with what we Americans put on our salads, contains no wine vinegar; it’s a complicated syrup aged for at least 12 years in small barrels and verified by a European consortium. A small bottle of the luxury dressing costs between about $85 and $200 — or more — depending on how long it has been aged, and Florentines pour it over everything from steak to gelato. In addition to tasting the expensive traditional variety, we sip a plethora of more affordable hybrid balsamics and ponder their subtle undertones.”

At Olio2go we have authentic consortia-approved Aceto Balsamic Tradizionale di Modena selections as well as excellent younger selections, such as the notable Campagnia del Montale Anniversary Special Edition.

If, after reading the Washington Post piece, you’d like to know more about the other markets in Florence, Sant’Ambrogio prvides another look at the foods of Florence.

Any stroll through the cobblestone streets of Centro Storico in Florence will result in glorious surprises as you gain a enlightened appreciation for the food culture of Italy. Mercato Centrale has evolved over the years, and while still Mecca for food lovers, some choose to venture to the Sant’Ambrogio market on the eastern portion of the historic area to ship where the locals outnumber the tourists.

 For more even more fun reading on great Italian food, take a look at this piece on our sister store, Piazza Italian Market, in Easton, Maryland.

 

**This photo isn’t show in the online edition, but this is a bottle from the Modena Consortium.

 

Olive Harvesting in Sicily

Olive Harvesting in Sicily


The olive harvest is underway and visits were made to Planeta, Ravida and Gianfranco Becchina’s estate this week. The Becchina estate in Castelvetrano is the home of Olio Verde and Olio Verde al Limone. The Planeta estate is in Menfi, as is the Ravida estate.

Take a look at this photo of the workers picking the olives at Planeta’s grove, a tradition that dates back centuries.

Villa Manodori SelectionsDon’t miss this Forbes article on Chef Massimo Bottura and his new restaurant in Modena, The Best Restaurant in Italy or the Best Restaurant in the World. If you haven’t time to plan a trip or are unable to get those coveted reservations, you can still enjoy his artisanal work at home. Taste a masterpiece with a selection from his astounding range of Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegars and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Villa Manodori Artigianale Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Dark Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Organic Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Go ahead, read the Forbes article and then visit Olio2go for Chef Massimo Bottura’s sublime selections.

Order online. If you are in the Washington DC area, stop by our store on Hilltop in the Merrifield area of Fairfax.

Vincent Scordo, from the notable Scordo.com, recently posted a fabulous recipe, Ciabatta Roll with Tomato, Basil, Santisi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Fillets of Anchovies. He’s a big fan of Santisi – and we appreciate his recipe. Santisi hails from northeastern Sicily in the province of Messina, and it is well matched to the BIG flavor of this sandwich. Take a look at Scordo’s site to see the beer that he matched with this sandwich!

A New Look at Olio2go

We were so lucky to host Domenica Marchetti in the new Olio2go store last evening. Our customers enjoyed speaking with her about pasta making (techniques for gnocchi) and their favorite recipes from her cookbooks: The Glorious Pasta of Italy, Big Night In, and Glorious Soups and Stews. We learned that her favorite region is Abruzzo, and it is just a joy to discuss all things related to food and Italy with her. Be sure to take a look at her blog, where you will also see our recent interview on olive oil.

Our guests were treated to two recipes from Glorious Pasta, and they rounded out their tastings with samples of Italian extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Big hits? Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Pace da Poggio Etrusco, and the Anniversary Balsamic from Compania del Montale.

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Whether you call it, late summer or early fall, this season is the ideal time for an evening of pizza.  Our test kitchen selections were crafted with Crudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil and we substituted Franca Franzoni Chestnut Honeyfor the “standard” wildflower honey in the recipe. The chestnut honey added a delightful, subtle nuttiness to the crust.

With this pizza dough recipe, you can make the dough in the morning, and return home in the evening ready to bake crispy and flavorful pizzas.

The two accompanying photos show our two sets of toppings:

Pizza 1: Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Roasted Garlic,Shredded cheese, mostly mozzarella, topped with Arugula immediately after being removed from the oven
Pizza 2: Calabrese Salami, Black Olives, Tomatoes, Shredded cheese, mostly mozzarella

Shortcuts:
Il Boschetto Bruschetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
De Carlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes
Trentasette Black Olive Spread

Use the linked Pizza Dough Recipe for guidance on baking time.

We are planning many special events to kick off our Grand Opening of the new Olio2go store in Fairfax, Virginia. Take a first look at our front door, with these gorgeous pots of Lantana to welcome you.

Our Grand Opening Special Events will fill the month of September. Plan to join us for a visit and booksigning by a noted chef and author, an evening with wine and appetizers, days with delightful salads.

Olio Verde Olives

Our customer “Wayne in Connecticut” has sent us a few excellent questions about olive oil production. We’re happy to share them with you.

Q. Is olive oil pressed from just the green unripened olives, the black ripened ones, or both?   If both, there must be a distinct general difference between the taste of “green olive oil” and ripened olives.

The highest quality olive oils are pressed when the green olives just begin to change color. This yields an oil full of flavor and possessing the best attributes. As olives continue to develop and ripen, they yield more oil, but that oil possesses a higher acidity level. It is very expensive to produce a high quality oil. There are some productions that yield only a liter or two per tree.

If you are mixing an oil having a very low acidity, with an oil with a significantly higher acidity level, you will end up with an “average” oil. Oils pressed from riper olives also seem to degrade or lose their characteristics at a faster clip.

Q. I notice in your descriptions of the oils, their flavor is usually a reference to a particular taste… say “green grass”, some fruit, peppery, etc.   Is this a product of aging the olive oil with flavorings or just the natural flavor of the individual brand of olives grown?  I assume olive oil is aged–maybe it isn’t?— just pressed & bottled instead?

The grassy, fruity, peppery characteristics are due primarily to the olive cultivars. The oils from Sicily (predominantly Nocellara, Biancollila, and Cerasuola cultivars) tend to be grassy, and the cultivars are different from the more pungent oils from Tuscany (predominantly Frantoio and Leccino). For top quality extra virgin olive oils those lovely distinctions are directly due to the cultivars grown and the skill of the grower.

The Novello oil (first of the season) is freshly bottled by those producers who believe in selling new oil. Not all believe this is the right thing to do!  By tradition, some producers prefer to let their oil settle or decant for a few weeks before bottling. Those producers store oil in stainless steel tanks with great care to preserve the freshness.  Aging is not a good thing.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the McLean Project for the Arts, Olio2go participated in “The Art of Italian Olive Oil”, a private olive oil tasting and luncheon in the MPA galley.  We enjoyed a tasting of four olives oils and two tapenade selections, the true magic was found in RSVP Catering’s pairing of the oils (and Vincotto Fig Vinegar) with their recipes. One very lucky guest received the Cutrera Gran Cru Tasting Set

– the door prize!

Santa Chiara Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi – Spoleto 2011

Gerbino Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Pelliccia Estate Bottled Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Vincotto Fig Vinegar

Maida Pomodori Secchi Crema Sundried Tomato Spread

Maida Olive al Cacao Pate

Orders noted with MPA and received by midnight on July 16, 2012 will be counted toward Olio2go’s donation to MPA.

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I don’t know if my children read this blog. If they do, I will soon be in trouble. But sometimes I’m just a kid and I like to see what I can get away with. As a mother in the food business, it can be fun to expand the offerings at home.

Now these are children who at age one ate spicy salsa in Southern California, at age 8 ate rabbit and boar in Tuscany, and at age 10 at mussels in Galway, Ireland. Sometimes, if they haven’t been told what they are eating, they are more….adventurous.

The foods of Southern Italy seem to be perfect matched to hot summer nights. Just recently we had an easy dinner of pasta with Villa Cappelli Spaghettata (from Puglia) to spice things up. If I had offered them anchovies, I’m sure the answer would have been far from affirmative. So, when I was alone in the kitchen, I tossed a teaspoonful of Colatura di Alici (from Campania) into the sauce. The Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra (also Campania) was the pasta of the night. All were combined and the dish was rapidly consumed.

There was something more….interesting….about the dish when served with Colatura di Alici. It brought out food magic with umami. Highly recommended.

In our ongoing mission to provide the best in Italian extra virgin olive oil and specialty foods, there’s one event that is the highlight of each summer: the Fancy Food Show.

Usually hosted in New York City, the show decamped to DC for the second and final year. With the completion of the refurbishment of the Javits Center, the show will return to its home next year. Not that NYC is a hardship, but we’ve been fortunate to have the show in our own backyard at the Washington DC Convention Center.

The Italian Trade Commission anchors a large pavilion for producers from Italy, complete with a corps of translators. This year’s pavilion was crowded with producers from Sicily–with smaller numbers from other regions. We are on a quest for products from further afield. We are seeking products from Veneto, Molise, Calabria, and Basilicata to fill a few gaps.

As always, the highlight was meeting with vendors who have become friends and compatriots in the world of food. We’re thrilled that our best selling balsamic vinegar, Villa Manodori Artigianale, won a Gold SOFI award in the classic category. A terrific and well deserved award.

As a result of our meetings at the show, our shelves will soon carry gems such as spicy jarred olives, Morello cherries, a spicy red pepper spread, and more herb blends. We’ve found a delightful bergamot infused oil from Molise, and a new selection, Itrans, the sibling olive oil to the sold out Raro, from Madonna del Olivo in Campania. To wrap it all together, there’s a new section of exquisite cotton and linen damask dish towels, tablecloths, and aprons — in designs featuring wheat, grapes, and even olives. We will announce each arrival through our emails, so be sure you are on the email list! (Sign up here).

Photos: The Italy Pavillion, The Gold Sofi Award for Villa Manodori, and Luanne with Kevin from Manicaretti at the Manicaretti Booth.

Spinach Fettucine from Scordo.com

Two of our favorite food bloggers recently wrote about their delicious creations using Pastificio Vicidomini’s Semolina Flour. Even better, CiaoChowLinda used a recipe from our favorite cookbook, Domenica Marchetti’s Glorious Pasta of Italy.

Scordo made the most glorious spinach pasta!

CiaoChowLinda made Semolina Dumpling Soup. Is there a rainy day coming up?

 

Imagine that you spent your lifetime tending the family’s groves… toiling to prune, worrying about the weather, keeping pests at bay, and in the end, each and every year, producing an olive oil that met the high standards of the family and the regional consortia. At some point wouldn’t you want to know if your oil could compete with the best across Italy or throughout the world?

Of course you would.

So, you enter your magnificent oil in one of the top competitions, in Zurich, Los Angeles, Verona, Perugia or Trieste. And, if all goes well, years of toil will be rewarded.

All will be even better if there’s a way to reach consumers of great olive oil—the wonderful consumers, reading this, who enjoy the best in the world of olive oil.

Over the years we’ve built relationships with these top producers and with other importers. We’ve carefully selected oils that represent the best of Italian extra virgin olive oils. We have a wide range of “winners” in stock right now. (There’s no other retailer in the U.S. with as large a selection of Italian extra virgin olive oil award winners!)

Fresh Award Winners, Currently in stock:

Titone Biologica DOP Valli Trapanesi

Alina, La Pennita in Brisighella

Crudo Extra Virgin, Schiralli

Monti, Giovanni Querci, Fattoria di Monti

Cutrera Primo DOP Monti Iblei Gulfi

DeCarlo Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Planeta DOP Val di Mazara

Marfuga L’affiorante

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi – Spoleto

Agrumato Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fratelli Colletti Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Colli Etruschi Extra Virgin Olive Oil

We will be modifying this list as soon as additional award winners arrive in our warehouse. As soon as they are in the warehouse, links will be added.

Olio Capitale, Trieste, March 2012

Winner – Medium Intensity Titone Biologica – DOP Valli Trapanesi
Semi-Finalist Olivastro, Quattrociocchi, Itrana Monocultivar, Fruttato Medio
Semi-Finalist Cetrone Intenso, Az. Agr. Alfredo Cetrone

SOL at Vinitaly, Verona, March 2012

Gran Menzione (Medio): Cetrone Intenso from Azienda Agricola Cetrone Alfredo

Gran Menzione (Medio): Frantoio Franci, Le Trebbiane

Gran Menzione (Intenso)

Azienda Madonna dell’Olivo – Raro – Sold out!

Gran Manzione (Intenso): Azienda Agricola Mandranova, coming soon

Gran Manzione (Intenso): Olivastro, Az. Agr. Quattrociocchi

Gran Manzione (Intenso): Rosso, Az. Villa Zottopera

Gambero Rosso presented at Vinitaly, March 2012 (Verona)

“Tre foglie d’oro 2012”

Raro – Madonna dell’Olivo , Campania, SOLD OUT

Selezione Alina Monocultivar Nostrana di Brisighella – Tenuta Pennita, Emilia Romagna

Cetrone Intenso, Monocultivar Itrana – Alfredo Cetrone, Lazio

Olivastro Monocultivar Itrana Bio – Americo Quattrociocchi, Lazio

Crudo Monocultivar Ogliarola – Schiralli, Puglia

Planeta DOP Val di Mazara, Sicily

Titone Biologica DOP Valli Trapanesi, Sicily

Gran Cru Monocultivar Nocellara Etnea – Frantoi Cutrera – Chiaramonte Gulfi (Rg), Sicily, coming soon

Rosso – Villa Zottopera – Chiaramonte Gulfi (Rg), Sicily

Monti – Giovanni Querci Fattoria di Monti, Tuscany

Villa Magra Gran Cru – Frantoio Franci, Tuscany

Marfuga L’Affiorante Monocultivar Moraiolo, Umbria

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi Spoleto, Umbria

Ercole Olivario, Perugia, March 2012

Alfredo Cetrone di Sonnino, Lazio, 2nd Place, Intensely Fruity

Primo DOP Monti Iblei – Gulfi, 2nd Place, DOP Intensely Fruity

Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition, April 2012

Agrumato Lemon – Silver, Delicate

Crudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Gold Medal

Cutrera Primo DOP – Best of Class, Gold Medal

Fratelli Colletti – Silver Medal

Olio Verde – Silver Medal, Robust, Nocellara del Belice

Planeta DOP – Silver, Robust

Titone Biologica DOP – Gold Medal, Medio Fruttato

Rosso, Villa Zottopera – Gold Medal

Zurich – International Olive Oil Award

Titone Biologica DOP Valli Trapanesi

Cutrera Primo DOP

Slow Food

Colli Etruschi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lazio

Titone Biologica DOP Valli Trapanesi, Sicily

Olio Slow:

Tenuta Pennita – Monte Poggiolo Selezione Alina, Emilia Romagna

Olivastro Biologica, Americo Quattrociocchi, Lazio

GRANDE OLIO:

Frantoio Franci – Villa Magra Grand Cru, Tuscany

Marfuga – L’Affiorante, Umbria

Alfredo Cetrone – Cetrone Intenso, Lazio

Madonna dell’Olivo – Raro, Campania – SOLD OUT

…. all at www.olio2go.com !

Some time ago, there was a small café in Newport, RI, called Cappuccino’s. It seemed that I enjoyed their pasta salad for days on end and eventually deconstructed it to develop a similar recipe. This has become a summertime favorite in my family. We’ve already made it twice this spring.

Cappuccino’s signature pasta was a curvy twist. My preference is Ruote (also known as Wagon Wheels). Another favorite is Festoni.  In a pinch, I’ll select Penne e Ziti Rigati or even Gnocchi Sardi.

As recipes go, this one lacking in specifics. A little more or a little less of each ingredient will be fine! You’ll be busy chopping so this is a great recipe when you have an extra pair of helping hands. My daughters are a big help for this recipe!

You’ll need to have a very large pasta bowl for this abundance of goodness!

1 package of Vicidomini Ruote Pasta, 500 grams

½ C + Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, such as Titone DOP Biologica, Gerbino, or Santisi

½ – ¾ C DeCarlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes, or sliced sun dried tomatoes

1-2 C fresh broccoli flowerettes, microwaved for 2 minutes to bright green, with a nice bite

1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper, diced

½ C chopped olives, try Crudo Tremeti or your favorites

1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

½ C celery, chopped

2 scallions/green onions, chopped

½ – ¾ C canned garbanzo beans, drained

6 slices cooked bacon (or pancetta!), crumbled

¼ C basil leaves, slivered

1-2 fresh lemons, juiced (to taste)

Ravida Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Other seasonings to taste

*Good Quality Mayo

Fill an 8-Qt pot with water and heat to boiling. Begin chopping vegetables! Add pasta. While pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli and cook the bacon.  If you are really fast you can get all of the chopping done before the pasta has cooked.  Drain the pasta while still al dente and rinse to cool the pasta.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Add more olive oil as needed. If you like your salad to be a bit creamy, stir in mayo. Chill before serving.

Are you dreaming of Tuscany? We can help with our step by step guide:

1. Order a Tuscan extra virgin olive oil from Olio2go. This week, we’re recommending Pace da Poggio Etrusco from the estate of Pamela Sheldon Johns. We found this post on making olive oil (Pace da Poggio Etrusco!) on one of our favorite blogs, Elizabeth Minchillini in Rome. Take a look at this fabulous verdant green oil. This is the oil in the stainless steel tin available at Olio2go. (Recently when I didn’t have any Sicilian oil at home, I used Pace da Poggio Etrusco for the Lemon, Olive Oil and Almond Biscotti with great results!

2. For added inspiration, add a cookbook, such as Pamela’s newest tome: Cucina Povera.

3. Add 50 Great Pasta Sauces and 50 Great Appetizers to your cart. Check out. (If you buy all four items, we’ll mark your order for free shipping. Use our web form to send a note and we will adjust the pricing before shipping your order. Quantites are limited. Orders must be placed by April 25th at midnight).  

4. Recieve your order, cook a meal, and fall in love.

5. Plan a visit to Pamela’s estate in Tuscany and take one of her tours or workshops!

Pamela Sheldon Johns is a noted cookbook author and we are thrilled to carry the oil from her Tuscan estate, Pace da Poggio Etrusco.

Photo Credit: DomenicaCooks.com

My passions for Italian food and culture are carried forth in any number of ways. I visit every “Italian store” I can find (often comparing it to the store of my childhood, Bari Imports, with its barrels of baccala). If I find olive oil in the back corner of a gourmet store, I will engage the proprietor in a conversation about the oil. Sometimes I will reveal my role in the business.  Sometimes not. (Yesterday when visiting a store I found a 2009 (!) priced at $39.95 for 500 ml. I shudder to think how many remain in the back room).

In the guise of research, aka surfing the web at work, my passion for Italian food leads me to seek Italian recipes with a theme. Currently, that theme is Biscotti. No long ago we posted Nona’s recipe in a recent blog post. And we are currently enamored with these two recipes found on Serious Eats and Domenica Cooks.

The Lemon, Olive Oil, and Almond Biscotti recipe nicely references using a Sicilian Olive Oil. Full-flavored Sicilians such as Titone, Planeta, and Zisola Extra Virgin Olive Oil have the characteristics –a perfect match for these biscotti. (Titone was also recently featured in our blog post on Organic certification).  Must confess to making these with a Tuscan oil, Poggio Etrusco from Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Tuscan estate.

Rich, toasty, and crumbly, the lemon biscotti, provide for a fresh break with morning coffee or later, with tea!

Another fabulous choice: Domenica Marchetti’s Cheese Biscotti are perfect with a salumi platter or a light soup meal. I think they are divine with a rich tomato-based soup. Read the comments from others and you’ll soon be rushing off to buy her cookbooks. Hint: we have her pasta cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy.

As always, use the best ingredients for the best results.

P.s. I’ve been munching on Mattei Biscotti di Prato while writing this post!

In part 1 of the Olive Oil Buyer’s Guide, we took a look at the anatomy of a great label on a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. For a refresher, take a look the detailed and revealing look at Primo DOP from Frantoi Cutrera in Sicily.


In this update, we’ll take a look at the symbols of Organic Certification. And, let’s talk terminology: Biologica is the Italian term for Organic. On labels, this is sometimes shortened to Bio.

There has long been significant cooperation on Organic standards between the U.S. and the European Union (EU). For years, agencies in Europe have been certified to meet US Department of Agriculture standards, and the olive oils imported to the US were able to use the USDA Organic seal on their labels.

We’re now at the cusp of a transition in labeling and a new agreement features a freshly designed symbol for EU Organic products. As a result of the trade agreement, both the EU Organic seal and the USDA Organic seal may be used. For products imported to the US, either seal represents that the product meets the organic standards in the US.  We’ve already noticed early arrivals of Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil carrying this attractive new leaf symbol.

Organic certification can be costly and some smaller olive oil producers will continue to elect to grow their olives organically, without adding the costs of certification. Within the product descriptions at Olio2go, those are noted as “organically produced”.

While we have many biologica/organic olive oils on our web site at OLIO2GO, we think that the labels on Titone, Trampetti, and Volpaia do a great job of illustrating the application of the seals. Titone’s neck label clearly shows the DOP and USDA Organic symbols, Trampetti carries the leaf on the front label, while Volpaia’s label includes the EU leaf on the back of the bottle.

Mary and Luanne sharing olive oil tips.

College Classes on Olive Oil Tasting?

That would be our wish. How about a super nutrition class on why good food is better and worth the effort? Does anyone know of a liberal arts seminar on this?

Until then, we’re happy to help out with tastings at culinary programs, like this week’s session in the fabulous test kitchen in NOVA’s Culinary section of the Hospitality Department (Northern Virginia Community College). We’re practically neighbors, and we appreciate their interest in …..food!

We shared a tasting beginning with a bland, disappointing, fusty and rancid oil.

Then we moved on to select premium extra virgin olive oils from Liguria, Tuscany, Puglia, and Sicily:

Liguria

Vittorio Cassini Classico

Tuscany

La Poderina Toscana Biologica, DOP Seggianese

Frantoio Franci: Villa Magra dei Franci and Olivastra Seggianese

Puglia

Crudo

Sicily

Santisi Novello

Olio Verde Novello

Zisola DOP Monti Iblei Val Tellaro

We had fun noting the characteristics such as fruity, grassy, and herbaceous. The peppery burn (pizzicata) was well noted! The best question of the day: Where does the peppery sensation go when the great olive oil is on food?

If you are looking to expand your travels to an undiscovered destination in Italy, be sure to read this New York Times’ piece on Francis Ford Coppola’s Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, in the Basilicata region of Italy.

Basilicata is just above the arch of the boot, with moutainous terrain that has made communications difficult until modern times.  Basilicata has been one of Italy’s least developed provinces. This is a region for true travelers as it possesses few resorts and fine accommodations. The cooking of Basilicata is bold and vibrant with outstanding produce, tasty cheeses, a wonderful variety of fresh and dried pastas—and outstanding cured meats.  Visit the Italian Tourism web site for more on this fascinating region.

From Basilicata, we have Bochicchio, with a new shipment coming soon!

Olio2go:  Internet Purveyor of Italy’s Finest

OliveOilTimesCover

Celebrating our 15th year of selling Italy’s authentic olive oils to discerning consumers! We’re thrilled to have been interviewed by the Olive Oil Times for our role in bringing authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil to the U.S.

Here’s our mini FAQ:

Olive Oil: The juice pressed from fresh olives. The quality is depends on the ripeness and condition of the olives at the time of pressing. Olives that are just ripening and have no bad fruit, when crushed promptly, produce the highest quality olive oil, extra virgin.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Acidity level below 0.80% and a professional organoleptic taste test indicating no faults. This is the best quality of olive oil, and those with the lowest acidity levels are considered Super Premium.

Olive Oil Benefits: Many of the known and researched benefits of olive oil are tied to the Mediterranean Diet and issues related to Inflammation (The Zone Diet). The FDA allows a health claim to be included on the labels of olive oils.

Italian Olive Oil: We’re passionate about Italian olive oils because of the craftsmanship and care – and centuries of traditions. To us, others are fine, but Italian olive oils are the best. While any olive oil bottled in Italy can carry the Product of Italy label, we work with carefully selected producers to ensure authentic production and quality.

Crush Dates and Labels: It is important to read an olive oil label, but we recommend that you read it carefully and with thought. A Tuscan olive oil will simply be labeled as Raccolto 2013, because Tuscan olives are only harvested between late October and early December each year (with slight variations for weather conditions). You may also be interested to learn more about organic certification and labeling for olive oil.

How do Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils Differ? Northern olive oils tend to be exquisite and less intense than those from other regions. Tuscan selections tend to be intense and flavorful and peppery; those from Umbria are slightly rounder than the Tuscans in flavor. Those from Lazio (the region of Rome) bring forth essences of green, while those from Puglia (the heel of the boot) finish with a strong pepper kick. The extra virgin olive oil selections from Sicily are grassy and some offer elements of tomato. There are many differences, but that’s the quick list of characteristics.

Cooking with olive oil: This is a favorite topic and we look at it simply. The producers do not buy olive oil to cook with. They use what they have carefully nurtured and crafted. A home, we keep 2-3 bottles in the cool, dark cupboard and choose the bottle with the least if we need a couple of tablespoons to roast vegetables or sauté chicken cutlets.

How to Store Olive Oil: In a cool, dark place. We do not recommend a refrigerator as some may get too cold. (And the refrigerator test is not valid).

For more information on quality extra virgin olive oil, we recommend the Olio2go Olive Oil FAQ and this piece on the Anatomy of a Great (Olive Oil) Label.

Sign up for our email list to stay up to date on new olive oil arrivals and the latest in olive oil news.

 

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