March 2014


Olio2go:  Internet Purveyor of Italy’s Finest

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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.

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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!