Our customers are so cool. They get it. That what we do with olive oil is really special. That it matters what EVOO you cook with, drizzle with, dip with, and anoint with. That good oil lends a whole new, heady dimension to whatever it touches. Rick Charnes is one of these customers. He wrote to Steve Jenkins, the man behind our olive oil program, about his Gata-Hurdes–a gorgeous green oil with enormous character and hit-you-over-the-head piquancy. We’re publishing their chat, in case you’re as curious about the state of your EVOO as Rick:
Rick: Steve, I’m noticing that the bottle of Gata-Hurdes Manzanilla Cacerena I received from my March online order is much more clear and filtered-looking than the bottle my friend picked up at your Stamford store in late January or early February. The oil in the January bottle had all sorts of great-looking particulate matter and it was nice and cloudy which is how I like it. What do you think would cause the difference? Maybe the January bottle was from the 2010 harvest and the March one from the 2011 harvest? Or…?
Steve: Was pumped from the oil that resided at the top of a barrel, that’s all. The farther down the barrel the top layer slides, that is, the emptier the barrel, the clearer the oil. More particulate matter is pumped from a full barrel. And you know what? Your clear oil will taste just as full as a cloudy bottle. Side-by-side, a cloudy gata tasted with a clear gata? You’d never taste (or smell) the diff.
Rick: Yup, that makes sense. I know that even when an oil is not formally filtered, producers often try eliminate visible particulate matter through decanting/racking because it lasts longer that way — I guess the moisture in the fruit matter can degrade the oil early? — but I like the cloudy look! BTW, you’re right — the Taggiasca oil from Liguria is fairly mild and I’ve settled on using that for cooking/sautéing and the other more flavorful oils for finishing. Real, real nice.
Steve: No, never heard that olive oil producers are trying to increase the life of olive oil by filtering it. Only that they want sparkling clear oil with no debris settling or floating about for merely cosmetic effect.
I just received my first container of yet another ‘house’ oil, extremely low-priced, that comes from my close colleague Pere Mateo who is the top guy at the co-operative Olis de Catalunya, an amalgam of 20,000 Catalan farmers (grapes, olives). I immediately cracked open a liter and poured a glug down my pie-hole. I am utterly elated. 100% Catalan arbequina. A knock-out.