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.

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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.

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 !

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!

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?

It’s been a snowy season in much of Europe and Davide Borselli of La Poderina Toscana has sent these photos to us. This snowy view is beautiful but no one yet knows what this cold means for the olive trees. In  1986, there was a devastating freeze throughout Tuscany, one that destroyed thousands of trees.   We don’t know that the freeze will mean for the trees or this year’s harvest, but you really should try Davide’s fabulous La Poderina Toscana Seggianese extra virgin olive oil.

Frescobaldi First Pressing — fresh, zingy, pungent, aromatic, stunning, peppery, and flavorful! Or fruity, artichoke, herbaceous, complex, buttery, pungent!

Tenuta di Capezzana Olio Nuovo — this oil bring forth various characteristics from year to year. This year’s blend is somewhat milder and buttery than the past year’s selection. Flavor notes: hint of green tea, nutty, buttery, clean, soft, peppery finish. Together with the Frescobaldi, this shows the range of characteristics in Tuscan olive oils.

La Poderina Toscana — continues to be a masterful extra virgin olive oil, crafted by Davide Borselli, and well-deserving of the Association 3E recognition. New Label.

Mascio Novello — from the producers of Principe di Mascio, this rustic oil brings for the raw goodness of olive oil. Packed with intense flavor characteristics, this will enliven flavorful dishes. From Umbria.