What goes better with a great glass of Syrah than a spicy Tuscan-blend extra virgin olive oil drizzled on fresh bread? That's our favorite snack! Since 2006, when our young olive trees started producing enough olives, we've made extra virgin olive oil from our biodynamically farmed olive grove. In fact, Montemaggiore had the first Biodynamic® Olive Oil in Sonoma County!
We release our newest olive oil as Olio Nuovo, which goes from tree to bottle before the solids have had a chance to rest. This fresh olive oil has a unique, intense, spicy flavor—the olive-equivalent of Beaujolais nouveau. Olio nuovo tastes wonderful drizzled on grilled fish, grilled vegetables, and bruschetta—but Lise's favorite is just dipping fresh bread in it. We recommend that Olio Nuovo be used within a month or two of purchase in order to enjoy its exquisite flavor at the peak of freshness. Typically our Olio Nuovo is available January through April.
Traditional Olive Oil
After a few months of settling, when the olive oil is completely clear, we bottle the remainder as traditional extra virgin olive oil. When released in May, the olive oil is a golden, clear liquid of uniform color and clarity. And yes, if not all the olio nuovo is consumed while young, it is essentially traditional olive oil (with sediment at the bottom of the bottle).
All Montemaggiore olive oil is a blend of three Tuscan varietals: Frantoio, Pendolino, and Leccino. Frantoio gives the oil its fruity notes, Pendolino it's subtle grassy aroma, while Leccino gives it a peppery finish.
Certified Extra Virgin
Montemaggiore olive oil is certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). Strangely, the United States has no labelling laws governing the usage of the term "extra virgin olive oil", thus even inferior olive oils could be labelled as extra virgin. Oils with the COOC seal on the bottle, however, meet the highest standards established by the International Olive Council (IOC):
- extracted from olives free from any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation, or filtration (no chemical processing)
- “cold-processed” at a temperature less than 27° C (80° F)
- oleic acidity levels less than 0.5% (which is more stringent even than the IOC standard of 0.8%)
- an aroma and flavor judged as worthy by a certified panel of official tasters
Making the most of EVOO
Utilizing extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) doesn't necessitate recipes because having lots of other ingredients tends to cover up the wonderful flavors of the oil. So instead of recipes, here are some ideas for making the most of Montemaggiore's extra virgin olive oil:
- Serve with fresh bread. Check out Lise's super-easy, no-knead olive and rosemary bread—but leave out the olives and rosemary to truly appreciate the olive oil.
- Serve with fresh vegetables along with other condiments for what Italians call pinzamonio. Fennel, radishes, celery, sweet peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans taste great. Olio nuovo, Sea salt, balsamic vinegar, grated parmesan can be put in separate dishes.
- Toss with ravioli, a pinch of salt, and a bit of fresh basil
- Drizzle on grilled fish or grilled vegetables (e.g., eggplant, portobellos, and sweet peppers).
- Toss with pasta and any combination of garlic, parmesan, and red chili flakes.
- Drizzle on a hearty winter soup, for example, tuscan bean stew or lentil soup.
A cool, dark place is best for storage
The two biggest enemies of olive oil are sunlight and oxygen. Our olive oil comes in a dark bottle to protect it from the sun, but you should still store your olive oil in a cool, dark place. If you always keep the cork on tightly, your oil should keep for a year or more. You will know that it has gone bad if it begins to taste flavorless (in which case you can bury it in cooked foods), or worse yet, turns rancid (in which case you can compost it).
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