Everyone’s tastes and priorities will differ, but unless I’m missing something I don’t consider £30/litre an attractive price for any olive oil, and have generally thought the ones produced by well known wine producers particularly bad value (part of that may be because Tuscany has so many of the better known producers of both wine and olive oil, and I tend to prefer a grassy style rather than peppery).
In general the most important thing in my mind is to make sure it’s from the most recent harvest (the new season’s oil in the winter is always a great pleasure). I was scrabbling around this year as supplies of my usual Calabrian oil were Covid affected. I bought a couple from Olive Oil & Olives | Maltby&Greek and have been pretty pleased.
The TWS oil is a pretty good mild French version, not too posh to cook with. Sometimes we buy a small bottle of more intense oil (Greece is good for value, I find a lot of Italian versions rather too expensive for what they are).
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but the volume of oil you get for the price is an important consideration in value. Having gone to the V&C site, I believe that’s for 250ml, or £40/litre (there seemed to be a half-litre bottle at £16 as well).
I’d be interested how people use the various oils and the prices they pay. I suspect this thread will concentrate on the top end of the market but I think there is something to be said for discussing to lower end given it probably gets used considerably more and is an integral component in many meals even if it takes a back seat.
I currently have 3 in the house;
The workhorse EVOO which is my default cooking oil unless there is a very good reason to use a more neutral oil or higher smoke point, this used to be Costco Spanish EVOO but the pandemic has made it harder to get to and huge queues so have let me membership lapse and so am now on the lookout for a replacement.
Dressing EVOO - Variable but often Waitrose 100% Greek EVOO.
‘Fancy’ - I don’t always have one on the go but often buy one as a treat. Currently a very nice Muraglia in a beautiful bottle I got for Christmas. Only problem is the bottle is opaque (good for storage I guess.) so I’ll have a rude surprise when it runs out!
I apply the following principles:
first rule: buy always extra virgin olive oil
second rule: oil for cooking (heating) or mixing with other condiments => Waitrose EVOO does the trick
third rule: oil for dipping or (raw) dressing as a sole ingredient (on salads, boiled vegetables) => the good stuff
I often use lighter, non-EVOO for cooking, or I cook with some non-EVOO and then use some EVOO to dress the food once cooked - having understood that the cooking is negative for at least some EVOO flavours, though I sometimes cook vegetables in EVOO for a richer, olive oil flavour if that’s what I’m looking for.
I’m minded to get some EVOO (and perhaps some other olive oil) from a nearby, excellent Turkish supermarket. If anyone knows which Turkish brands are best, I’d be very interested indeed.
Some olive oils are expensive. The one from Planeta can be found for £15.99 for 1/2 a litre at V&C, but I am sure you can get a better deal in other places. You can find it for £11.95 at Great Wine Co - but that doesn’t include postage. And yes, £25.90 per litre of olive oil is expensive, but then again, there’s a market for various price points.
At Maison NW3, we use olive oil for cooking, dressing and dipping.
If you are going to make a good foccacia, quality olive oil is a must.
For dipping olive oils, I like to set up tiny little white saucers each with a different colour (green to gold) and get a neutral(ish) bread as a conduit for the olive oil taste. That, along with hard-boiled quail eggs to be dipped in truffle salt, and breakfast radishes are staples at home.
Another great (albeit extravagant) use of olive oil is to baste (lightly) prime cuts of meat. Chilli or truffled oil, used sparingly are great. I just did a 30-day dry aged ribeye on Monday with this type of basting and it was quite good.
Ps: I like olive oil so much that, naive me, I bought 2 fully mature 12yo Italian olive trees back in 2011 and lifted them up by crane to a terrace in the front of the property (where there was a Southern exposure). Unfortunately, they have never given a crop (yet).
And that reminds me: if anyone gets the chance to take part in a olive harvest, do it. I’ve never done grapes but it sounds hellish on the back; with olives, you’re indulging your inner primate, perched up a tree with a cloth bag tied round your waist, taking in the stunning view.
A lovely weekend, except when I made the mistake of biting into one out of curiosity
Yes, but if you are young and stupid its not a problem. I did the vendenge in Regnie Beaujolais 1985, 7 days solid from before dawn until after dusk. Left hand gets lacerated with cuts from the serpette (miniature sickle for cutting bunches). Brilliant experience, fantastic food and great company.