Light things can come in heavy packages
One of my favorite things that I remember Italian or Mediterranean fusion restaurants in the US serve was a plate bread and a few select olive oils as you were waiting for the antipasti (starters). I still love to watch the oil form a small puddle on a small white saucers, dip in the bread and taste different oils.
The only curious thing about this good idea is that I’ve never seen it in restaurants in Italy. Well, once. But that was about ten years ago in an olive-oil themed place that had just opened in Milan. The owner got the idea after a few years working in restaurants in the US.
That is probably the only way Olive oil is not commonly served in restaurants here. But dripping good oil on good bread is still a passion of mine.
So when my friend Edoardo gave me what looked like a designer thermos and asked me to try the olive oil within, the first thing that came to mind was to soaking some freshly sliced bread with it and giving it a try.
Climate and variety does have a strong impact on the characteristics of olive oil, so when he told me it was Puglia, I had my doubts. Puglia (known as “Apulia” in English) is the heel of Italy’s boot and a major olive producer with a reputation for dense, rich, strong olive oils. Eduardo must have noticed what I was thinking because he added – “It’s not like you expect.”
So last night, when I pulled it out to try with a slice of bread before dinner, I was pleased to learn he was right. This is a delicate, yellowish, lighter oil, and its low acidity made it roll smoothly over my tongue.
The name – Bio Leaf – and the packaging are unusual. I might even say courageous. But they both have a reason. “Bio” is because, as you would expect, the olives are grown and the oil is pressed using strict environmentally friendly methods. And the form and color of the bottle are to protect the oil from temperatures and the light. It should should be available in parts of the US (for more information, try http://www.bioleafgroup.com).
By the by the way, Italians do love olive oil on bread. Silvia tells me that her after school or snack was often a slice of the rustic, dense bread L’Aquila is famous with the light, low-acidity oil from Navelli soaked in. And Sofia and I love both cleaning our salad bowl with a slice of bread. What better way to taste an excellent oil than on a great Italian bread – even the unsalted Tuscan loaf.
Much more fun than sucking it out of little cups as olive oil tasters do.
– Joshua Lawrence
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