Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Olives and grapes, who knew they were similar?

To experience these olive oils you can go to a dinner being hosted at Frida Restaurant on April 28th, click here for details.

Grapes make wine, and olives make olive oil. This is fact. Did you know that there is a level of appreciation to be had from olive oils that some of us might be missing out on? I did understand that olive oils had a complexity to them, but until this past week I wasn't subjected to an opportunity to really appreciate the differences. An invitation came from our good friends at Sizzling Communications to attend a Spanish olive oil tasting to be held at Pimenton, and here was my chance.
The lovely space at Pimenton

First, a little bit about Pimenton and chef Lola Csullog-Fernandez. At Pimenton they do prepared foods, pantry items, as well as catering and cooking classes. The food was really fantastic, and a nice treat to eat proper Spanish tapas prepared by a talented Spanish chef who actually has a Masters in Spanish Gastronomy. They do take out only, although there is a tiny barto sit and eat; the store is really cute and has a vibrant feel to it. Well worth a visit when you are in the gastronomic treasure trove that is the Mount Pleasent strip. 

The Menu:
Salachon Iberico Popcorn Croquetas
Spanish Potato & Onion Omelette - Tortilla
Mussels with Celery, Green Apple and Roasted Apple Gasuul Alioli
Pincho of Ensaladilla Rusa
Lamb Meatballs with Membrillo Oro de San Carlos Alioli
Charcuteria - Salichon & Chorizo Iberico Fermin
Deep Fried Pimenton Chickpeas

Olive oils used: Gasull and Oro de San Carlos

The food was fresh, tasty, and the flavours of Spain popped in your mouth. I would gladly have Chef Lola cater a cocktail party without hesitation. Favourites included the Pimenton Chickpeas (OMG good!), Lamb Meatballs, Mussels, and the Salichon.
Lamb Meatballs



Deep Fried Pimenton Chickpeas

The tasting was hosted by Dolores Smith, of Olivar Corporation, and they represent these fine Spanish olive oils here in Canada.  

What we tried:
Full Moon
Oro San Carlos
Rincon de la Subbetica
Dolores with Mary Luz from Sizzling Communications

Olive oil, as with wine, has different growing regions and many factors effect how the final product tastes. Even time of harvest has something to do with the final product, as with our first oil, Full Moon. This oil is literally harvested during the fall full moon and is one of the earliest harvested oils in Spain. The olives used in Full Moon are green fleshed olives and come from a very unique micro-climate in the region of Exremadura. It is pressed from the monovarietal arbequina olive grown in family-owned orchards and is pressed within one hour of picking in order to preserve the ripe flavour of the olive. This delicate oil is best used raw. 

Tasting notes, Full Moon: tomato, nutty, sweet, smooth, delicate, soft. Our friend David Ort noted "it smells like a tomato patch in July."
The sheet used for tasting notes

The second oil we profiled at the tasting was the Oro San Carlos, which is a coupage of arbequina and cornicabra varietals from the same region as the Full Moon. Again, these olives are pressed within 1 hour of the harvest, and they use the most innovative Pieralisi technology in this process. This oil is suited to cooking, and as we discovered in our tasting you can even poach salmon in good olive oil and it will not taste greasy but will be tender and fabulous. Dolores pointed out to us the importance of bottling in olive oil, as the dark glass and other wine bottle like features aids to preserve the delicate nature of the oils. 

Tasting notes, Oro San Carlos: herbal, leafy, hit of pepper on the finish, faint sweetness, delicate.

Overall my favourite that we tasted was the next oil, the Dauro. This oil is tremendously popular in Japan and is often used to mix with wasabi to smooth it out as well as winning many awards and been served at Nobel Prize dinners. Dauro is grown with no pesticides and the producers engage in a high biotechnology Integrated Crop Production Program which demonstrates their dedication to process. As we moved along we got more of the pepper on the back end and the flavours became more pronounced. It demonstrates that olive oil appreciation requires a training of your palette and a serious level of dedication. Here are my final tasting notes.
Green apple was used to cleanse the palette between oils

Tasting notes, Dauro: vague citrus, heavy quick bitter on palette with a heavier pepper note, as well very intense leafy green notes. It is an unfiltered oil so it is quite cloudy.

Tasting notes, Ame: grassy, buttery mouthfeel, intensity of pepper notes grow. This oil is a mix of 4 varietals, not just Spanish.

Tasting notes, Rincon: heavy herbal notes, pepper, intense buttery mouthfeel. This oil has won 65 awards from 2006 to present.

A selection of lovely Spanish wines thanks to Lifford Wine Agency 

You will be able to purchase the Full Moon Spanish olive oil soon at Pantry


  1. Love the shot of the olive oil sitting on top of the Rincon on the tasting note paper! :) Pleasure to see you there Joel!

  2. Thanks! I couldnt copy your shot holding up the oil to the light, now could I? Great to see you both, as always.