What in the culinary world is more chic than the perfect olive oil?
Olive oil among friends, that’s what! Begin with a few tablespoons of oil in a wine glass. Cup the glass with the palms of your hands then rotate it (as if you were prepping to taste wine) to swirl the slightly warmed contents. Cover the top with your other hand to hold the fragrance inside. Sniff three times, sip gingerly, wait a haute second, then breathe two short breaths through your teeth – all the while mentally noting if you taste things like “apple, almond, artichoke, buttery, fruity, grass, hay, nutty”. This is what the experts at Fig & Olive mention in their suggestions to Host an Olive Oil Tasting of your very own. Interested? Read on…
Mrs. Pinkston and I just happened to lunch at Fig & Olive last week, and for those of you who do not live near one of their five (soon to be six) locations: you may want to plan an entire trip around visiting one in the near future. Their welcome appetizer is a palatable trio of olive oils + made-from-scratch, most-luxurious-bread-on-the-face-of this-earth. I could live on just that, but the expert sommelier, Henri insisted that we sample a few of their most popular dishes.
Imparting his firsthand knowledge of the menu, he walked us through the composition of several courses and explained that he selected specific champagne or wine to complement the sauce in each elegant creation we shared. First, we sipped the Castellroig Cava Brut and tried to politely nibble the crostinis we truly wanted to devour. We then enjoyed a classic, slightly heavier Moët Imperial with a lovely, summery Melon Prosciutto and Burrata Salad. Jen named our next course, “some of the best scallops [she’s] ever had in her life”, which Henri paired with one of the most delectable Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had in my life – Sancerre Château Les Hospices. As if all of this food was not enough to hold us until Labor Day, the meal continued with even more perfectly paired courses until not one but four miniature delightful sweets casually landed on our table.
Don’t worry, there was plenty of learning going on amidst all of the savory dishes that were served. Here’s what we learned about olive oil:
- It’s not oil for the act of “cooking”; it is oil for the finishing touches. Meant to dress the dish (even if it’s a hot dish), olive oil loses its distinct flavor when heated at a high temperature. If you need an option for high heat, find the label indicating that it was refined specifically for that.
- Everyone picks up a different taste in a specific olive oil, thanks to our individual palate chemistry.
- The best summer olive oil? Henri enlightened us that olive oil is not so simple that it can be seasonally confined. In his opinion, follow your palate or choose your oil based on the complementary ingredients in the complete dish. Peppery oils give dense foods, like potatoes, a satisfying kick; and medium / nutty oils pair well with pastas, penne to be Henri-exact.
- Fig & Olive has a separate retail store entirely dedicated to olive oils! Visit here.
I think olive oil may just be the best culinary discovery yet: relatively speaking, it’s healthy; it’s always complementary; it tastes amazing; and it is fairly universal in the audience pleasing department. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like olive oil…
Would you host an olive oil tasting? If so, we would love to hear how it goes!