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.

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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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.