Learning about olive oils is a bit like learning about wine. There are so many brands, they all have different unique taste profiles, and terroir also plays a big role in their flavor as it does with wine.
My advice is don’t spend
a lot of money on the olive oil you cook with…the oil you sauté in or use to braise meats and things of that sort.
I always buy extra virgin whether its for every day or special occasions. It comes from the first pressing of the olives and has the most antioxidants, so it’s health benefits are obvious.
If you want to splurge, spend a little more on the olive oil when you want to taste its subtleties—drizzle on some fresh veggies, dip for that yummy bread or a finishing touch to a special dish.
Do buy reputable brands. If a price looks too good to be true, it probably is. You might not be getting quality oil.
HEB, Central Market are brands I trust. Also, Williams Sonoma, Dean & DeLuca and other specialty gourmet stores have some wonderful choices. My new favorite olive oil is called Laudemio – it has a nice spicy finish.
Also, there’s a fun event—Olives Olé—this Saturday out at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard just south of San Antonio sponsored by Les Dames D’Escoffier. Delicious food, cooking demos and losts of olive oil to taste – even Texas olive oil. You can get tickets at HEB, and I have a link on my website for more info.
To learn more about olives and olive oil, check out my interview with Lidia Bastianich – she is a master teacher on all things Italian!