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.

 

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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.

Official Blue Tasting Cups

Official Blue Tasting Cups

We recently traveled to California to take part in the Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil Course presented by the UC Davis Olive Center and the California Olive Oil Council. Have no fear; we have not strayed from our mission to provide exclusively Italian extra virgin olive oil!

We appreciate the knowledge of the Californians and we were able to translate issues to our business. Throughout the day we tasted extraordinary to ordinary, and even some “aged” oils. Tastings were primarily oils from California, and they only shared the names of the oils that were defect free.

If there was any disappointment in the day, it’s that none of the dozens of samples were Italian olive oils. Yes, we tasted Ascolana and Leccino, but those were grown in California. It would have been great to compare a California-grown Ascolana to Azienda del Carmine’s award winning Ascolana from Marche.  In one segment we tasted California-grown Spanish Picual in early harvest and late harvest pressings. The key descriptor is that the early harvest tasted like a quality artisan oil, while the late harvest was reminiscent of grocery store offerings.

We spent time discussing nasal and retronasal aspects of olive oil. Sounds enchanting? With an element of surprise we were treated to the negative attributes found in fusty and rancid olive oils. Our session leader served a rancid Arbequina, and in the discussion that followed, we learned that she tried a 3-year-old Tuscan and found it too good to be useful for our aged sample. The bitter and pungent characteristics common to Tuscan oils are indicators of high polyphenol levels. Those same strong components hold off rancidity.

In an official tasting, there are a number of restrictions to ensure an unbiased evaluation. The tastings are conducted with blue glassware to eliminate the influence of color. There are scoring sheets designed to make fair evaluations, and the high and low score sheets are discarded. Panelists are isolated, and a minimum of 8 tasters must be present.

In our sessions, ten oils were tasted straight from cups, and then five of those oils were tasted with each of six foods (mozzarella, beans, cherry tomatoes, bread, field greens, and steak).

Our food matching plate

Our food matching plate

As we discussed industry trends, the focused moved to the future of olive oil tasting and evaluation. One bright spot is the development of Association 3E evaluating Super Premium Olive Oil in Florence. La Poderina Toscana is one of the top oils on that list. You can see La Poderina Toscana’s evaluation here.

Quality olive oil has made great strides in a relatively short period of time. The olive oils of the ancient Greeks and Romans would be far more like the oils we now identify as rancid. The characteristics of a premium olive oil (excellent quality olives, good pressing conditions, minimal introduction of oxygen, and controlled bottling, storage, and transportation) were all unknown or unachievable until relatively recent times.  While the ancients made a quality product, critical to their civilizations, they might not recognize today’s best oils.