Oh the olive oil! That’s what my taste buds were raving about last week at Williams Sonoma when I tasted Manni Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the first time—vertically. Yes, I was sitting up when Armando Manni led us on a vertical tasting of his olive oil over three years 2008, 2009 and 2010. If you could compare each of the olive oils to a lover the 2008 is elegant and smooth, the 2009 is strong and manly and the 2010 is rough and ready.
Passion was in the air. When a charming, sun-tanned, Italian starts talking about, “What It Really Means to Be a Virgin”, that’s pretty much a given.
Armando set out to create the finest and healthiest extra virgin olive oil in the world for his son, Lorenzo (no relation to the film), because he was disappointed by the quality of extra virgin olive oils available at the time. He succeeded.
It’s the only extra virgin olive that is tested every 4 to 6 months to make sure it retains it’s virginity. It is processed at the peak of it polyphenol-ability (I made up that word!). It means that the olives are picked and pressed when they’ll make the most delicious olive oil and when they have the highest level of anti-oxidants.
Passion is widespread for this oil. Thomas Keller (what a gentleman!) uses ONLY Manni oil in his restaurants. He says it is the best olive in the world bar none! It’s served at a number of the finest restaurants in the world.
Olive oil is not something I want to drink a lot of. But afterwards, when Thomas Keller and his crew made us exquisite hors d’oeuvres, featuring the olive oil, my passion got roaring too.
My favorite was the proscuitto rolled around charred eggplant bavarois with a sliver of green almond and Manni Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Per Me.
I have to say that this was a very well executed event. The food, the wine and the service were perfection. The Keller crew made olive oil jam! Armando looked like he’d fallen in love with his olive oil all over again when he tasted it! Outstanding!
So You Say It’s A Virgin: SIX Things You Should Know About Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Get The Real Deal
Make sure you are getting real extra virgin olive oil. Sixty percent of the extra virgin olive oils available in stores are really simple olive oils. By law, all extra virgin olive oil has to meet the requirements to be called extra virgin only at the time of pressing. According to research done by the University of California at Davis, only fourteen percent of all extra virgin olive oils are still extra virgin when we buy them!
Buy small bottles and store it only in dark bottles. It is extremely fragile. Light and exposure to air are the enemies of virginity. They will turn the extra virgin olive oil back into a simple olive oil.
Heat Is The Enemy
Never cook with extra virgin olive oil. Heat kills the flavor and turns it into simple olive oil. Use it to finish dishes by adding it just before serving.
Good For You
Extra virgin olive oil, at least the Manni oil is extremely high in anti-oxidants which are said to be beneficial in many ways including fighting cancer and heart disease. Thomas Keller has a teaspoon of the Manni oil on his oatmeal every day.
You don’t need a lot. Manni Oil is expensive, but it’s so delectable that you only need a splash to give your dishes a HUGE flavor boost.
How To Taste It
You want to warm the olive oil with the heat of your body to bring out the flavors when you taste it. For some reason I’m picturing body shots, but it’s much easier to taste it from a snifter like glass.
Cup the glass in one hand and hold the other over the mouth of the glass and swirl for a few minutes. You want to warm the oil to release the flavor. Then slurp the oil in your mouth, kind of gargling the oil and swishing it around the taste zones in your mouth. Then swallow it.
Armando said, “If the olive oil makes you cough when you taste it, it’s a sign that it could be an extra virgin olive oil.” I’m not sure I believe this. I imagine that really bad olive oil will make you cough too. The slurping of the olive oil does help you detect the flavor notes in the olive oil. Armando had us talk about what color the olive oil tasted like.
You can only buy Manni Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in U.S. from Williams Sonoma. The beautifully and sensibly packaged oil come with two bottles (3.4 oz each). One of the Per Me and one of the Per Mio Figlio (one for him and one for his son that is milder). There’s not a lot of it available because they only have a small production and some celebrity is using it for massage oil. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it if you want the only the best and you want the benefits and remember a little goes a long way.
Photo Credit: The close up photo of the Manni olive oil box was courtesy of Ken Leung.