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Old 11-24-2006, 05:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
Right you are! During a recent trip to Corfu, I was surprised to see that their olives are tiny in size. This means that for each individual olive, the ratio of flesh to pit is subminimal. Consequently, the oil produced from pressing such olives will have a very significant portion of it coming from the pit. The latter is basically pomace, which is thick, cloudy, and distinctly unpleasant in smell as well as taste.

I do believe that a significant contributing factor to the size/quality of these olives is the fact that the trees did not seem to be properly kept, that is, they were not pruned for years and probably they were not fertilized either.
We usually stay at the Agios Stephanos end of the island. I was dismayed to see the olive trees in such a bad state of pruning and husbandry. I was told (don't know if it is the truth, but it was a Corfiote that told me) - that the olive groves on the island had been neglected for many years due to the fact that only locals wanted the produce. So many old trees, totally abandoned. The grasses grow up round the nets which have been left around the tree for many years.. sad! Thank goodness for Crete and Cyprus and other islands (and the mainland, too!)

Clive: I think that Boufa has given you an 'in' - try the Ministries of the various Mediterranean countries and you'll probably find LOADS of producers, desperate to sell their stuff overseas!
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Old 11-24-2006, 06:03 PM   #22
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My favorite EVOO at the moment is from World Market (an import chain) bottled under their name. It runs about $5/Liter US (I can sometimes catch it on sale after Christmas for $2.50). It has a good fruity flavor that I like and is better than most of the stuff I can find in the grocery store.

Someone asked a question about OO a couple of years ago that got me curious ... and that is always a dangerous thing. Here is part of what I found out:

Olives and their oil are like grapes and their wine ... there are differences from region to region (location, climate, growing season, etc.) and they are highly regulated in Europe, but not much in the US. For example, in the EU you probably wouldn't find a bottle of sparkling wine labeled as Champagne unless it was from the Champagne region of France. I believe the US is the only country that imports/exports OO that does not conform to the IOOC standards - so the same brand of oil you get could be different from what we get here in the states.

The really good oil is going to be the imported stuff found in "ethnic" shops. And, as someone suggested - the stuff the restaurants use will usually beat the store brand stuff, too. And, I'm afraid, the general shelf brand stuff imported to the US is of dubious quality and origin - although there are some USDA requirements so it's not total crap.

I'm not sure there is a "Soprano Syndrome" pushing the sale of Italian OO over Greek or Spanish in the US. It happened long before then - probably when "Chef Boyardee" made Italian food out of a can popular! Before WW II, and canned Italian stuff - most of America was not aware of Italian foods outside of local "Little Italys" in the Northeast. The Greeks and Spanish didn't have such a spokesman to elevate their food to national prominence.

Here are some sites you may find interesting (if you want to learn more about OO):

The Olive Oil Source

International Olive Oil Council (IOOC)

Olive Oil Trieste on Wikipedia

Back to something boufa06 said - yep, Italy does export more oil than it produces. They import oil from Spain and Greece, bottle it and ship it out to the US with a label that says "Imported from Italy". Maybe if Spain and Greece would quit doing that, and start importing it under their own brands, people might start to have a better idea of what they actually have to select from?
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Old 11-24-2006, 06:10 PM   #23
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I'm no expert either, but I use a lot of olive oil. I really enjoy Trader Joe's EVOO - it's delicious and very reasonable.
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Old 11-24-2006, 06:13 PM   #24
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Michael in FW - that was very interesting.... particularly the bit where you said that the stuff sold in the USA may share a name with stuff sold in Europe,but that the quality may not be the same.

I absolutely love olive oil. I like to try as many types as I can - but I'm extremely fussy about the flavours I like, and I HAVE bought stuff that I would never buy again!
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Old 11-24-2006, 08:20 PM   #25
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My favorite olive oil is from a small grower in Sicily - Cavallo. It is quite delicious and frankly the best olive oil I have found yet. I haven't had Greek olive oil yet!

If you are interested in his address/phone number please PM me and I will give it to you. It's not the cheapest olive oil and it's not the most expensive - it is however pretty darn good!
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Old 11-25-2006, 01:03 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
I'm not sure there is a "Soprano Syndrome" pushing the sale of Italian OO over Greek or Spanish in the US. It happened long before then - probably when "Chef Boyardee" made Italian food out of a can popular! Before WW II, and canned Italian stuff - most of America was not aware of Italian foods outside of local "Little Italys" in the Northeast. The Greeks and Spanish didn't have such a spokesman to elevate their food to national prominence.
well said, michael.

ayrton, before the "soprano" effect, or syndrome, there was the "goodfellas" one in the early 90's, and before that was "the godfather" in the 70's. in fact, vito andolini's business front was as an olive oil importer in the latter of the movies mentioned.

i think the popularity of olive oil in the united states was greatly affected by the fairly recent knowledge about it's health benefits over other oils, and like michael said, the italians had the best spokespeople, beginning with g.i.'s returning home from wwii and good ol' chef boiardi (boy-ar-dee).

my favourite extra virgin oil is the kirkland signature brand from costco. for frying, i like bertolli's light olive oil.

btw, fraidy, you can deep fry with olive oil. the smoke point of light olive oil is high enough for it, around 460 degrees. (didn't we chat about this once, or am i losing it?)
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Old 11-25-2006, 02:55 AM   #27
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Before commenting further, I think some clarification of what "Soprano syndrome" means to me is in order. When Ayrton introduced the term first, I took it to be in a humorous vein alluding perhaps to "mafia" tactics in OO marketing and promotion. This of course is my interpretation of the term and whatever relevant comments I have made reflect it.

With this in mind, it is interesting to hear that
Quote:
yep, Italy does export more oil than it produces. They import oil from Spain and Greece, bottle it and ship it out to the US with a label that says "Imported from Italy". Maybe if Spain and Greece would quit doing that, and start importing it under their own brands, people might start to have a better idea of what they actually have to select from?
All this is good, except for the fact that the above does not justify the statement that only Italian OO is suitable for Italian dishes, which is the central point of Italian OO marketing and promotion worldwide, not to mention the notion that is carefully left to hang in the background that Italian OO is the "top of the line" with the remainder relegated to the status of "also runs." This is IMO a corollary of the Soprano syndrome. It is not that the Italians may have started exporting first. It is that they are using intentionally misleading, let alone inaccurate statements, in their marketing drives. I don't know about Spain, but Greek exporters look like a bunch of amateurs compared to the well-organized Italian exporters backed by an even better organized and ever present Italian Trade Commission. However, what the consumer needs to address is whether the efficiency of a marketing compaign is synonymous with high quality and unique nature of OO. And while on the subject of OO imported by Italy to be re-exported as Italian, let us not forget the North African region, ie, Tunis, Morocco, and Algeria or even beyond North Africa as Syria, Turkey, etc.

Regarding cost, it is interesting to know that good EVOO is priced as low as $2.50/liter. Given that over here, in the middle of the harvesting season, EVOO is sold by the olive growers at Euro 5/liter and around Euro 6/liter at the cheaper supermarkets, perhaps it would be interesting to import some of the good $2.50 EVOO in order to export to Italy prior to returning it back home in much fancier bottles and far more impressive labels detailing such fine points as the exact type of olives it was produced from and the exotic fruit flavours that can be found in its taste.
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Old 11-25-2006, 03:03 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
btw, fraidy, you can deep fry with olive oil. the smoke point of light olive oil is high enough for it, around 460 degrees. (didn't we chat about this once, or am i losing it?)
Since olive oil is chemically a mono-unsaturated fat, it's a fat in between butter (fully saturated) and most vegetable oils (poly-unsaturated). This means that OO is chemically more stable than the poly-unsaturated vegetable oils but less so than fully saturated fats. Therefore, its boiling, smoking and whatever points are going to be higher than those of the poly-unsaturated oils and its tendency to break down under heating lesser than that of the common vegetable oils.

Yes, it can be very well used for frying. Frying or not in OO is a matter of taste alone (it will probably give whatever you fry a heavier taste than the standard vegetable oils).
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Old 11-25-2006, 03:22 AM   #29
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thanks for the info boufa.

i wonder if any of this has to do with a common perception that if you're cooking a dish of a particular type, say italian, you should use italian ingredients right down to the oil. same goes for spanish and greek dishes.

italian cuisine is the most popular by far here, therefore italian oil would be used more frequently.

interestingly, when i noticed that one of my favourite little italian restaurants uses spanish oo, the chef/owner laughed and shyly shrugged saying it was the best he could get, which was the most important thing to him.

in at least one of the spanish/portugese restaurants that i frequent, i've seen that they use spanish oo for frying. i'm absolutely addicted to their shrimp in garlic oil, and their potato chips. the chips are a cross between a chip and a french fry (a crisp and a chip, if you're so inclined). sort of a potato chip withy crispy edges and a slightly thicker, soft center.

anyway, i haven't noticed a heaviness from the oil, but the oo flavor is what makes the difference. the garlic oil is so good that when the shrimp are gone, the remaining oil is sopped up with bread.
also, i've tried to make the spanish potato chips at home, using inexpensive italian(?) oil, and it just wasn't the same.

i'mm gonna have to pick up some greek oo to check it out.
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Old 11-25-2006, 04:25 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by buckytom
i wonder if any of this has to do with a common perception that if you're cooking a dish of a particular type, say italian, you should use italian ingredients right down to the oil. same goes for spanish and greek dishes.
You definitely got the point. But let's assume (for the sake of argument only) that it is indeed mandatory to use entirely Italian (or whatever) ingredients to achieve maximum results for a given recipe. Unfortunately, all this would amount to is merely using stuff out of cans, bottles and the like bearing labels that claim a given country of origin while the contents of such cans, bottles, etc. come from any country besides the claimed one, neighbouring or even further out. Various trading commissions or similar marketing organisations would have you believe that claims made on labels are the gospel truth. Do you think this is really the case though?
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