SlowFoodItalyLogo

The new 2015 list of awards/recognition for Italian Olive Oils has been released by Slow Food in Italy. Olio2go carries many of farms included in the book.

We carry 12 of the top olive oils recognized by Slow Food Italy. These are estate bottled and sealed. We import in bottles at great expense (glass is heavy!), and feel that the consumer should receive the oil as it left the farm (not passed from tank to tank to bottle).

The full top awards list can be seen here:

SlowFood2015Awards

Chiocciole

Abruzzo, Trappeto di Caprafico

Emilia-Romagna, Tenuta Pennita (coming soon)

Lazio, Colli Etruschi (coming soon)

Sicilia, Biologica Titone

Oli Slow

Sicilia, Biologica Titone

Sicilia, Villa Zottopera Bio

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano 1979 (coming soon)

Toscana, Fonte di Foiano, Frantoio (coming soon)

Grandi Oli

Puglia, DeCarlo Torre di Mossa

Sicilia, Cutrera Primo DOP

Toscana, Franci Olivastra Seggianese (coming soon)

Umbria, Marfuga L’affiorante

All can be purchased at Olio2go.com. We ship promptly within the U.S. and Canada.

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OC2015_collageIn this most difficult harvest year, the awards have commenced. It seems that the producers have self-selected and self-nominated with great restraint. Those who were confident of their olive oils submitted them to the major competitions. At Trieste, the number of submissions was down and quality was awarded.

Let’s take a look at the notable awards from Olio Capitale, March 7-10, 2015 in Trieste. (Awards List Here).

We’re highlighting the award winners (all 2014 harvest) available through Olio2go.com.

The highest award – Overall winner in the Intensely Fruity Category:

Categoria Fruttato Intenso

Azienda Agraria De Carlo: Olio Tenuta Torre di Mossa 2014
Puglia

Mention of Honor Giuria Ristoratori

Frantoi Cutrera Primo DOP Monti Iblei 2014, Sicilia

Finalists – Fruttato Intenso

Società Agricola Fonte di Foiano S.S. Grand Cru 2014 Toscana– coming soon!
Azienda Agricola De Carlo Torre di Mossa 2014 Puglia – in stock!

Frantoi Cutrera Primo 2014 – D.O.P. Monti Iblei – Sicilia – in stock!

Semi Finalist – Fruttato Intenso

Tenute Librandi Monocultivar Nocellara del Belice Biologico – Vaccarizzo Albanese CS – 2014 coming soon!

RadarFlorenceSept2014

For three months now there have been stunning reports of the difficult, challenging, and horrible olive harvest in Italy. Decades have passed since such a crisis last occurred, and that, the Tuscan freeze of 1985, did not reach the broad geographical proportions of this one.

During the month of October, we learned of the losses on a daily basis. Each phone call and email told a tale of crop failures and weather issues. Few areas were immune. In general, windstorms, rain, a cool summer, and a hailstorm were the weather issues. A bug and a fungus took hold as well.

Videos of the 18 September 2014 hailstorm in Tuscany can be seen here and here.

As reported to us, the harvests in Sicily were early and small. Problems were noted from The Veneto to Puglia. Producers in Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Abruzzo piled on tales of woe.

Outstanding producers chose to bottle no oil in the fall of 2014: Tenuta di Capezzana, Poggio Etrusco, Avignonesi, Fattoria di Monti, Decimi, and others.  We were informed of difficulties among many others who have valiantly produced much smaller quantities than normal. And, need we mention price increases?

There is a human toll that goes far beyond the kitchen table. Families, including farm workers, and bottlers, have experienced reduced wages from the poor harvest. Quality olive oil will likely cost more than ever.

Remembering that there are always variations in characteristics for year to year, the 2014s we have tasted provide a remarkable testament to the skills of the producers. Aromatic, fresh, grassy, bitter, and spicy can all be found in our lucky bottles.

Jan2015Grp

We continue to remain optimistic as we have carefully sourced 30 selections so far this season. Our full line of new olive oils (many shown in photo) can be purchased here.

Frantoi Cutrera, Frescolio and Primo DOP

La Poderina Toscana Organic, Oro and Argento

Gianfranco Becchina’s Olio Verde Novello

Frescobaldi First Pressing

Titone Novello

Santisi Novello

Azienda del Carmine, Ascolana and Olio del Carmine

CantinArte OroPuro

di Giovanna (Gerbino Biologica)

Marfuga L’Affiorante 

Villa Zottopera Bio and Rosso

Fratelli Colletti

Fattoria Ramerino Primus and Cultivar Frantoio

Principe di Mascio, Novello and DOP

Quattrociocchi Olivastro

In the coming months we look forward to arrivals of many more selections from Italy, including favorites such as:

Olio Librandi

Centonze

Gargiulo Sorrentolio Venus

La Pennita, Alina

Castello del Trebbio

Badia a Coltibuono

Our challenge is to continue to bring in the best Italian extra virgin olive oil in quantities to carry us through to the 2015 harvest.

 

For more information on the topic of the 2014 olive harvest, we recommend the following clicks:

New York Times: Amid bugs, hail, floods…

Los Angeles Times: Europe Suffers Olive Oil Disaster

NPR: Olive Oil Producers in Crisis

FustiX

On August 20, 2014, the United Kingdom (UK) disallowed the sale of all unflavored olive oils on tap.

This impacts the “fill your own” shops, stores where bottles are filled or refilled from the stainless steel fusti tanks on display.

From the Olive Oil Times:

“Critics of the concept say the shops are often ill-equipped to handle, store and dispense olive oil, and that they bypass Europe’s stricter labeling laws.”

Shiny fusti tanks are visually appealing, but in the UK these can no longer be used to dispense as the consumer watches.

We believe the heart of this matter is accurate labeling and product integrity. Stop and think. The olive oil does not ship to those stores in those sleek, attractive containers. It ships in a drum, a jug, or some other shippable container. And, then you must trust the cleanliness of the back room where the oil is transferred from one container to another.

Does this matter to the US FDA? There are certainly indications that the Health Departments are beginning to monitor these stores in the U.S.

When a consumer selects one of our authentic Italian extra virgin olive oils, there’s no question that the producer – whose family or estate name is on the label – grew, picked, pressed, bottled, capped, labeled and shipped this authentic and great olive oil to us. And, the best news is that YOU are the person to open that bottle. It has not been opened, repacked, decanted, or relabeled prior to your enjoyment.

In May we visited Italy and the theme of this trip was “chilometrezero” or “Km 0” for short. This is a trend in Italy that promotes the use of entirely locally produced products, not to be confused with the movie “Km 0” or the mile markers throughout the world. See the Wikipedia entry Chilometro Zero for more on this trend.

KM02a

Tortellini Three Ways at Km0

Meat & Potatoes - Emilia Romagna Style

Meat & potatoes Italian style.

KM01a

Appetizers – Km0

In the US, we might call this farm-to-table or extreme locavore, but Km 0 seems different.

First Stop: Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio

This trip, we ate at the restaurant northeast of Reggio Emilia near the Autostrada called “Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio”.  See reviews and location here.

The directions using our iPhone map app took us within 1 Km, but not 0 Km.  We ended up on a farm road that went nowhere (thanks, Siri.)  Using our pre-iPhone skill of reading the actual signs on the road, we backtracked and followed the little white sign (clearly pointing the way in the opposite direction of what Siri said we should do) and found the place easily, except they apparently have recently renamed the restaurant, so the neon sign didn’t exactly match (it was actually a caricature of a Mexican guy advertising coffee – ??)

When we opened the car door after parking in the rear, we had a clue as to the extreme localness of the products based on the smell that made us think we had landed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, if you get my scent.  Yes, fresh, locally produced pork products are the theme here.  But there was much more to the menu on this day.

We had no reservation, and arrived about 8pm.  We had no problem getting a table way in the back, but the other two open tables quickly filled up.  The place might qualify as a “dive” in the US, but it was pleasant, friendly, and packed with locals.  The staff spoke no English, and there is no printed menu.  Instead, a chalk board gets parked next to your table, and you see the full menu of the day.  Also on the board on the wall is the list of where exactly each item on the menu came from.  We had no trouble interpreting the items with ample help from our cheerful waitress and our command of “restaurant Italian.”

The antipasti were an outstanding selection of salumi, lardo, and puffy fried bread.  In this area of Emilia, the word for the puffy fried bread is cresciontini, but we had previously found them in the Romagna area to the east just called gnocco fritto.  In any case, they were great with the meats. For the wine, we chose the local Lambrusco, which goes perfectly well with the somewhat fatty food.

The primi course consisted of three different ravioli dishes recommended by the waitress.  One vegetable stuffing, one beef stuffing, and one cheese stuffing.  All were better than what we’d had in a fancier restaurant in Bologna the previous day.

For secondi, we were a bit filled up, but dove in to maiale and manzo dishes.  The freshness of the meat and the preparation of each were simple, but really good.  We skipped dessert.

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

 

Next stop:  Fattoria Montelupa near Città di Castello east of Arezzo, north of Perugia for some fresh cheese. Yum.

The owners moved 40 water buffalo to this part of Tuscany some years ago from near Naples, where Tuscany juts its finger way northeast up into Emilia Romagna.  The buffalo seem to like it here just fine, versus the hotter climate in Campania.  The farm has accommodated the buffalo with a low spot to wallow in the cool mud.

Our host explained that the buffalo don’t like stress, and produce the best milk when free from stress.  Based on the taste and consistency of the resulting mozzarella product, we think these are pretty happy animals.  The farm is outside of town, but there is a retail store in town.  Whether it is because the cheese we tasted was made today from milk collected yesterday from a bunch of happy water buffalo, or because it is made with a different technique, the end result is a product that can’t get any better.  We were fortunate enough to also have fresh ricotta made from the whey byproduct of the mozzarella process.  The ricotta, too, was as good as it gets.  Total distance from buffalo to table – about 300 meters.

Tempting Salumi

Tempting Salumi

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

 

Next stop:  Il Ghiandaio

North of Città di Castello, a bit further east of Arezzo, but still in that little tip of Tuscany that juts up into Emilia-Romagna and Umbria, there is a tiny little store-slash-restaurant on the side of the highway. (Click here for a location map and reviews).

The proprietor of Il Ghiandaio  is a man who takes his craft very seriously and produces his own cured meats to sell in his tiny store.  The restaurant consists of a couple of tables in the yard next to the store.  The store sits behind his house, just off the Autostrada, exit Pieve Santo Stefano (Nord).

We feasted on six types of cured meats (actually, I lost count) including the one he called the “eel” because of its shape and size.  Also on the menu was the typical Tuscan crostini selection of green pesto made with celery leaves instead of basil, chopped liver, and a new one – fresh sausage, uncured, made on Monday (we were there Thursday).  It tasted like tuna tartare – really different.

The pigs are raised nearby.  Giuseppe Ferroni is the proprietor, but the pigs are raised by another farmer.  Signore Ferroni is a master at making sausage, salami, prosciutto, and anything that can be done with pork.  We highly recommend this man and his work.  Distance from curing room to table – about 50 meters.

If you take a trip through Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria, let us know if you visit these establishments!

–Jeff

VeronaDeAmB

One Word: Exquisite (squisito!)

From the area of Valpolicella near to Verona, we present Oleum Oleae Tenimenti di Ambroxiis. We met Paolo in Veneto and were thrilled to be introduced to his perfect oil, an outstanding representation of the oils of Valpolicella.

This superior olive oil is a blend of the best Grignano, Leccino, Frantoio olives grown on the family farm in the territory of Verona. This is a beautiful representation of the hard to find olive oils of the region.

The exquisite oil is a yellow-gold with light tones of green. The aroma is lightly fruity as is typical of this zone of production. The taste opens sweet and progresses to a pleasantly lightly spicy finish.

Use raw as a finish to fish, vegetables, and risotto.

 

Giorgio Franci (top), with Davide Borselli (bottom)

Giorgio Franci (top), with Davide Borselli (bottom)

At the end of June, we spent two days in New York searching through the aisles of the Javits Center looking for new discoveries and old friends — at the premier event in the specialty food industry.

It is always exciting to attend the Fancy Food Show — there are miles of aisles of specialty food products. Luckily for us, most of the Italian producers are grouped together. If you think about it, it is a bit of a dating game for food producers and buyers as we seek the right products for our customers.

For Olio2go, the highlights were time spent with Giorgio Franci and Davide Borselli.

Franci is the master producer of exceptional oils. To sit with him and enjoy a progressive tasting of oils from Fiore, though Villa Magra Grand Cru, is a noteworthy experience. The first oils are direct and flavorful with a clean finish. As the oils become increasingly fruity and complex, the finish extends and lingers.

The Franci 4-bottle Gift Set provides the upper end of this tasting experience with Olivastra Seggianese, Le Trebbiane, Villa Magra dei Franci, and Villa Magra Grand Cru. It’s the perfect way to conduct your own tasting event.

Also, in the Italy Pavillion, Davide Borselli of La Poderina Toscana represented his family’s Biologico (organic) Wine and Olive Oil. There one could taste the organic selections La Poderina Toscana Oro and Argento side by side, while sipping on his Organic Integrona IGT Toscana (white) and Marracone DOC (red) wines. This was a prelude to of our visit a few days later in Washington. (More on Davide’s visit to DC in an upcoming post).

For more information on the outstanding extra virgin olive oils from Frantoio Franci and La Poderina Toscana, see this post.

So, what discoveries did we make?

Be on the lookout for new pasta shapes and packaging, risotto kits, Nutella-like hazelnut spread (made with extra virgin olive oil, rather than mystery fats), Crispy Capers to add a snappy, nutty, savory finish to dishes, beautiful green dried myrtle leaves (think of them as a delicate bay leaf), and with a nod to molecular gastronomy, a new balsamic treat (more on that soon). It was also the first look at the holiday season and time to order Panettone, Panforte, and festive treats. Coming soon.