Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Evoo-lution: new olive oils in the Goose's cellar

From the Catalan region in northern Spain, the Pons family has been tending their olive grove and pressing their own oil for four generations. In 1945, the family’s first bottles left the grove to share with us, and today their estate’s assortment includes an early harvest, unfiltered, extra virgin olive oil that just hit the shelves at the Goose.
Harvesting the olive tree’s first fruits—usually ready in November—gives this thick oil a green glow and bright, fruity flavors. The Pons family decided to leave this young oil unfiltered, so the microscopic bits of the fruit keep it slightly cloudy in the bottle and the pour. The result, though, is a more intensely flavored olive oil that shines outside the pan. Rather than frying or sauteing with this olive juice, we reserve it for drizzling, dressing, and dipping…on the fresh red-veined spinach and field greens just in from Good Life Farms…on this Friday’s fresh fish order…on the crusty, toasted bread smeared with ripe tomatoes from just down the road…or in some of the Pons family’s recipes.

In Italy, the frantoio is the olive mill, and the Manifredi family in Sicily kept things simple when they named their extra virgin blend Frantoia. (Changing the -o to an -a was a tribute to femininity and to Mother Earth, the Manifredi say.)

For the lady in their bottles, the Manifredi blend three types of olives from three different Italian micro-climates: Biancolilla grow in the Agrigento Mountains, Cerasuola in the Trapani hills, and Nocellara from the Palermo mountains. (Notice all the feminine -a’s in those olives, eh?) The blend has tinges of green-gold and a bit of fruity flavor before leaving a sweet almond trace.

Again, this is an evoo that’s meant to gild the lilly, not fry it. We pour it over vanilla gelato (seriously, it’s good), pair it with firm, nutty cheeses, use it (along with crushed marcona almonds) to dress the veg that just came off the grill, but we’ll be thinking of the lovely ladies in our lives the whole time…

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