Friday, January 29, 2010


There is a difference between great Italian tuna packed in nice olive oil and the typical grocery brand packed in oil. That difference is flavor, just packed with more rich, salty, smooth flavor. Do yourself a favor and try it. I got this one from Buon Italia at Chelsea Market. It is so good. You can have a perfect lunch of tuna straight from the jar on toast. Maybe add a few capers. I think the difference is using olive oil compared to the typical vegetable oil used elsewhere. Yum. The color of the premium tuna also tends to be more reddish than our typical white tuna. Looks great on a party table for tapas, antipasto, hors d'oeuvres, or mezes. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Olive Oil Suds

"And with the sprig of a fruited olive man is purified in extreme health." - Virgil, Aeneid

There is nothing like taking a refreshing bath. I take one every day. Not a shower, but a deep, relaxing bath. Is this a luxury? Yes it is. Last month Santa brought me some Olive Shower Gel made by The Body Shop. I put a few drops in the tub while the water is running and get lots of tiny sudsy bubbles. The color of the gel is olive green. The scent is mild, not overwhelming, but soothing. The label says "Cleanse and moisturize your skin using a soap-free gel that leaves your skin feeling soft and fresh with a brisk green scent." The part that most interests me is the moisturizing and the fact that there are bubbles yet it is soap free. Instead Glycerin is used to make the lather and add more moisture. The olive's oleic acid helps soften the skin. Also, I like the idea that the oil used comes from community trade organic olive oil. Power to the family farmers! Because I put the gel in the tub, it goes all over my body as well as my hair, which works like a conditioner and leaves a healthy shine. I'm happy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


"These trees so fresh, so full, so beautiful; when they display their fruit, green, golden, and black, it is among the most agreeable sights one might ever see." - Miguel Cervantes

I just finished reading Mort Rosenblum's book named Olives: The Life and Lore of the Noble Fruit. There is real passion in this book! As a journalist Mort does what he does best, and that is to investigate. He takes you to many countries around the world including Palestine, Israel, Italy, Spain, Tunisia. But Mort has also done his research and brings to life the rich history of olives and what it means to us today both as a consumer and as a connoisseur. This book is part travelog, part farmer's manual, part business accumen. Ultimately, he has made me enjoy the olive fruit more by his richness of information and loving detail. Mort has written many books including one on chocolate, which I might have to read too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mama's Homemade Olive Oil Granola

"I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it." -Rodney Dangerfield

At home, Kirsten has been making granola for a long time now. The new twist is she has started to add olive oil as an ingredient and it makes a great difference. Besides the added earthy flavor that goes well with coffee, the granola seems more moist and savory. This also occurred when she made some delightful polenta cookies. She made a large batch that lasted over a week in our makeshift cookie jar without getting all dried out and stale. Its magic, and unlike alcohol, you can't really have too much.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is it a painting?

There really isn't anything like being greeted at one of your favorite Italian restaurants with dish of olive oil and a bread board. Robert DiNero's Locanda Verde is one of my prize jewel after swimming lessons brunch spots in Tribeca, Manhattan. And the oil does not disappoint, with a sprig of herb and a dash of balsamic, it is so refreshing coming in from the cold. The bread is super as well. The kids gobble it all up.

At home yesterday, my daughter asked me if she could have a spoonful of olive oil. What followed was a wince and a smile. Not bad for a seven year old. Now I need to see how the two year old reacts.

Too yummy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Taste the differences and revel in it

Many upscale grocery stores have a large selection of olive oil, so how do we decide what to purchase? This photo is from Whole Foods at 7th Avenue and 24th Street in Manhattan. There is a certain amount of trust that goes into the Whole Foods shopping experience because of the general high quality and cost of their items. Without actually tasting all of the various oils, we can't really know our individual preferences. Most rely on a combination of price point, country of origin and a hunch.

Other factors to weigh in should include an expiration date or born date. Most olive oil has a life span of about a year or two depending on temperature and exposure to light. The younger it is the better the taste and nutritional value.

Italy tends to be the go to country for olive oil, but few realize that they sometimes mix their oil with oil from other countries so you don't always know what you are getting. Spain and Tunisia are big contributers to the Italian brands. Italy is very good at marketing their products and have formed deep connections to customers worldwide. Buying Spanish, Tunisian and Greek oil is not always the first thought but should be. Look for estate bottled oil and a list of olive varietals. Also, seek out organic product whenever possible as olives tend to absorb many qualities from their environment that adds flavor while they grow. One reason they also cure so well even after they are picked.

Best of all, try them all and let your nose and tongue shape your ongoing habits. Quick guide ~ find the freshest on the shelf or just order a large container of the newly pressed 2009 online where available. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Going back to Cali

"Happy are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. Thy wife: a fruitful vine inside the house. Thy sons: olive plants around the table." - Bible, Psalm 128

I got this bottle of California olive oil from my dear Britte for Christmas. The Marsala brand is produced by the Sciabica family since 1936. The color is a bright canary yellow and fully filtered. The taste is a sweet avocado with smooth, no pepper finish. The label does not indicate a born date or expiry date, so it is hard to know its freshness. Interestingly, the label has a recipe for apple pie cake using no butter. Good for the ticker. A fine oil, but I wonder which of Sciabica's oils are a level up in quality. Also, there is no indication about organic status so I assume that it is not. Went to the their website but there is no revelation on the olive varietals either. Would love to know. Look forward to tasting some of the other lines of Sciabica.

PS: On page 203 of Mort Rosenblum's Olives. Getting psyched to try more Tunisian olive oil!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Italian olives in California moisturizer?

"Fai mi paure, ti fairai riche."
Make me poor, I'll make you rich.

"Espeio mi, ti vestirai."
Strip me, I'll dress you.

"Grate moun ped, ti graisse toun bec."
Scratch my foot, I'll grease your chin.
-Provencal proverbs; the olive tree is speaking

Visiting Berkeley, California last year I brought back home some moisturizer from the bed & breakfast we were staying at. I recently started to use it  and realized that it contains "extracts of Italian olive oil" to guard against the cold/dry weather. Produced by Baronessa Cali I imagined it was made in Cali-fornia. But no, it is made in the outskirts of Rome by the Mediterranean Sea on the Cali Beauty Farm. Their idea is to make skin products that contain olive oil which contains vitamin A, vitamin B, Beta Carotene and squalene. The color of Oliva Corpo is a creamy white with a fresh floral scent. It also contains arnica montana (antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, circulation-stimulating and healing properties, promotes new tissue growth) and kelp (stimulating, revitalizing, nourishing and anti-inflammatory properties, reduces moisture loss). 

I have been using it on my face the past few days and it feels good. Normally I don't use any moisturizer but with this winter weather everyone is getting dry, dry, dry.

PS: On page 174 of Rosenblum's Olives, so nice.