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No Bread with Olive Oil When You Test, for the Oil's True Flavor is the Best!

Posted by Jennifer Thornton on

One of my fondest olive oil milling season memories took place when I was invited to lunch at the most prestigious and awarded Organic Sicilian EVOO producers after helping out in their mill one evening. The father, the patriarch, invited me back for lunch the next day in what would become the most simple yet most memorable lunch I have shared. He split open a large, crusty loaf of bread and layered it with fresh tomato, basil, and his extraordinary just-pressed organic olive oil. His finishing touch was a generous sprinkle of the Trapani sea salt which happened to to be drying in cannoli shaped mounds just down the road.

Whether it is a baguette, sourdough, pita, naan, or any other various bread of countless origins, we all relish the simple joy of soaking it in an oasis of fresh, vibrant, and beautiful olive oil. It seems that no matter where one is, what kind of bread, or what kind of olive oil it may be just as delicious. And therein lies the problem. The fact of the matter is that all olive oil tastes good when it is absorbed with bread. Poor quality, chemically refined, olive and even pomace oils will taste appealing with the flavors masked by the ingredients of the bread. Indeed it is the ingredients of the bread that do change and alter the aromas present in the olive oil including gluten, oils, and even sugar present. The bread ingredients all affect how the oil tastes on our palette.

A perfect example is your quintessential Provencal market, in the South of France. Strolling any one of these markets, you will surely come across two very different vendors selling olive oil. One will most definitely have an array of lovely bottles with plenty of small dishes filled with golden oils and plenty of cubes of bread to soak it in. The oil in these bottles is labeled 'Made in Provence' but are in fact low-grade olive oils made inexpensively in Spain and shipped by truck into France. This practice is against the law. The second class of olive oil vendors is very different. These vendors are the actual producers whereby you can simply drive a few minutes out of town and visit their olive oil mill or olive orchard. The producers always sample their true French olive oils straight, in small tasting cups or spoons, just like we do at The Olive Tap! There is nothing to alter or mask the nuances and sensory characteristics present in the olive oil.

So how should one test extra virgin olive oil? On a professional tasting jury, for an international competition, we taste with blue cups (color has no effect of sensory characteristics, yet influences strong prejudices in the human brain.) Crisp green apples and plenty of water are the only items on the table to cleanse the palette. When you are testing 50-100+ olive oils in one day, bread never enters the room. The testing room...just like in The Olive Tap boutique shops, we want you to truly understand and appreciate the incredible sensory aromas and characteristics of what artisan, authentic, natural olive 'juice' taste like without bread to hide any faults.

So remember...