An Outstanding Olive Oil can enhance the flavour of any dish; adding a textural dimension that cannot be found in other oils.
I find it fascinating that all olives begin their life as a green fruit, but turn black or dark purple the longer they are left, and the riper they become. I was astounded at learning how olive oil has been used across the globe for hundreds of years and in fact, some of the first known mentions of Olive Oil come from just outside the town of Aleppo, in Syria around 2240 BC!
We tend to associate Olive Oil with the Mediterranean, as it is an essential part of their lifestyle and diet. Olive oil has hundreds of uses, from medicine, as a fuel, in the production of soap, in religious rituals and even Furniture Polish. However, I think that by far, the best one is to eat it! The higher the quality of the oil, the more nutrients it will have; and therefore the better it is for you, (as well as having a far superior flavour).
Olive oil is also recognised as having many health benefits. It is known most famously for reducing cholesterol; however this amazing oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and is full of antioxidants. In particular, Vitamin E; which helps to protect cells from damage. On top of this, when you are baking, try using olive oil instead of butter to help your baked goods keep for longer!
It is very important that you store your olive oil well, as like wine, poor storage can damage the oil. It is best kept in a green or dark coloured bottle, as when in clear glass it is more likely to be damaged by sun/light. The fresher the oil, the better it tastes, and therefore at this time it is perfect for dressings and marinades. After a year or so, it can still be used in cooking, as after this time, the oil can lose its fresh, clean taste.
I highly recommend the fabulous Capezzana, and with this tasting note, it is not hard to see why this is one of the most popular oils in the world – ‘The aroma is of fresh-cut grass and almond. A buttery, mild, fruity beginning fills the mouth with a delicate flavour of herbs and green olive, and a delightful spicy note arrives on the finish.’ Another one of my favourites is the award winning Fontodi Olive oil , which is extremely versatile and delicately balanced. This is also a favourite of Jamie Oliver’s, used worldwide in his restaurants.
To make the perfect vinaigrette, use an oil to vinegar ratio of 3:1. If you want a smooth consistency, you need to emulsify the oil and vinegar so that they do not separate, and this can be your own choice of an ingredient, such as mustard or an egg yolk. Then it is up to you to flavour it as you will, using delicious herbs and spices, garlic and honey. Then, simply shake together and drizzle over your favourite salad leaves, or perhaps with a succulent lightly poached chicken breast, or maybe even some roasted vegetables. Mmm… my mouth is beginning
All in all, it really is worth splashing out an extra few pounds on a good quality oil, as the cheap ones just don’t cut the mustard.