I’ve been really lucky in San Francisco in that I’ve had the chance to meet so many passionate people involved in producing and sharing delicious food with the food-loving community here. At a recent networking event (I do tons of that now, it seems!), I met the CFO of the O Olive Oil Company. She very kindly shipped me a sampling of their citrus olive oils. With that comes my first post about olive oil.
Tucked neatly in their slots were tall, slim bottles of olive oil crushed with: Meyer lemon, blood orange, and Tahitian lime. I was going to make myself a spinach salad with chèvre when the doorbell rang, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to test out all of them. I broke out a large slab of ciabatta bread, slathered on an enormous amount of chèvre, and drizzled the oils on one at a time, taking bites as I went. Maybe it wasn’t the most efficient method, but it worked well enough.
Over all, I noticed that the oil is very light, fine, and delicate. Mario Aranda, Vice President of O Olive Oil Company, later explained to me that they deliberately choose California Mission olives for that delicate quality. The olive flavor recedes to let the citrus flavor shine through!
Meyer lemon: I found it to be the most delicately-flavored of all the oils. There was almost a sense of pine in it, it felt that fresh. The sweet Meyer lemon aroma is quite strong. After popping it in my mouth, I felt the oil gives a great burst of—not flavor—essence of Meyer lemon before I could sense the olive flavor. For those readers who may not be familiar with Meyer lemons, they are less acidic and a bit sweeter than your average lemon. This oil is very light, and would probably go well over fish, poultry, or simple vegetable dishes where you’re looking for a refreshing garnish. The imagery it conjured up for me was of summertime meals on the patio, complete with a bottle of pinot grigio or some other light white wine.
Blood orange: Of all of the oils, I found this to be the most “meaty” or savory. The color is a little richer than the meyer lemon oil. I couldn’t detect sweetness, which I have tasted in other citrus oils. There was not the acidity that we usually associate with citrus, but again, this heady essence of blood orange. I think this ended up being my favorite oil of the three, to be honest. I can totally see this going over meat dishes or hearty vegetables (I’m thinking root vegetables, since I’ve been eating a lot of them lately). It would make a fabulously luxurious, thick, and sensuous accent to a dish, like a velvet drape of citrus olive oil on your plate!
Tahitian lime: The aroma on this one was fresh. Smelling it made me immediately want to drizzle some on grilled fish, which is something my (awesome cook) grandma would make if we were sitting on some faraway beach. The feel was decidedly tropical. While the lime essence is strong, this is definitely amenable to lighter cooking with lighter meats like poultry and fish.
What kinds of cheese would I put with this? I’d definitely recommend fresher, younger cheeses, because flavorwise, they won’t be competing too much with the oils. I did my tasting with chèvre, and I was poised to try them with burrata, but Mr. Cheesemonger beat me to our stash to make burrata pizza with spinach and prosciutto instead. I ended up making a simple mixed green salad with the Tahitian lime oil, some salt, and pepper (Maybe I’m strange, but if I’m eating the salad on the side with something very flavorful, I usually won’t put any vinegar or dressing) to accompany the pizza. It was a pretty fantastic combination.
Next post is going to be on my conversation with Mario Aranda, Vice President of O Olive Oils. He told me all about the manufacturing process, the history of the company, and the history of the olive trees. I’m happy to share it!