Last week, something monumentally cool happened. Drum roll…the first ever New York International Olive Oil Competition. Three days of olive oil celebration and elation. The who’s who of olive oil descended upon the International Culinary Center in Soho to taste, talk, and delve into the world of olive oil.
There were olive oil tastings, lectures, and conversations galore. Fairway Market’s Steve Jenkins was there, of course, speaking about buying olive oil and curating a world-famous, inexhaustibly wonderful olive oil department. The captivating Carol Drinkwater showed clips of her films ‘The Olive Route,’ and read experts from her books, revelries of “the mysteries of this magical fruit and its juice.” If you are uninspired by EVOO, pick up one her stunning books. I challenge you not to change your mind and heart.
Attendees learned how to properly taste olive oil (warm up first in your hand, get your nose in there, sip like you would wine, taking in air and making that lovely sucking sound…). Doctors and nutrition experts toted the health benefits of perhaps the world’s healthiest food. Olive oil varieties and cultivars were examined, bitterness discussed, trade laws investigated.
And while we were chatting and learning, 15 judges from 10 countries were busy blind tasting and rating 653 olive oils from 22 countries. For three long days, they tasted and tasted and tasted. Check out the results–the world’s best olive oils–here.
What makes a good olive oil? Freshness, foremost. High quality olive oil is lacking in defects, like greasiness, mustiness, and fustiness; and suitably fruity, bitter, and pungent. The NYIOOC judges were serious olive oil professionals with super fine-tuned palates.
There were lots of winner, but Cobram Estate stood out with TWO Best of Class Awards. Cobram is an excellent Australian producer of this complex, balanced, spicy, green olive-y Reserve Picual oil. Liquid gold. Drizzle over your tuna, your salads, and use for a killer pesto. Other Fairway winners? The nuanced, lovely Mas des Barres, from the lush valley of the Alpilles mountains, in Provence. This is a piquant wonder–buttery and lush, with notes of hazelnuts and dried fruit. And from Westerm Sicily, Lorenzo Number 1 and 5 were both winners.
We left more in love with olive than ever, more committed to our valiant mission of supplying our customers with the very best olive oil from all over the world. We got to celebrate what we’ve always believed: that great olive oil makes life better.