We stared at the row of olive oil bottles, a little perplexed. We were sitting at one of the best gourmet restaurants in the world, Charles Abellan’s Comerc 24 in Barcelona. We knew it was going to be an amazing experience – and it was, so much so that we returned the next day for lunch.
But olive oil tasting? We knew about wine tasting, of course, but we never tried olive oil tasting.
Needless to say, Abellan knew what he was doing. Each of the four oils had a distinct color, aroma and flavor. They were very different from each other, and the way they were arranged on the tray, leading us from the mildest to the strongest flavor, just like you would do when savoring a cheese platter, enhanced the experience.
In beautiful Barcelona, in the summer of 2008, we learned that olive oil is not an either/ or thing (either “extra virgin, imported from Italy” or “grocery store variety.”) Olive oil has a wide variety of flavors, even textures. Tasting it, using freshly baked, crusty bread, is just as pleasurable as tasting wine, if not more so!
Fast forward three years. When the nice folks at Di Palo Selects have recently offered to send me a bottle of their Lochitello Cerasuola olive oil, and explained that it’s a gourmet, extra virgin olive oil imported from Sicily, I couldn’t possibly refuse. The oil, they explained, “has an aroma of freshly cut grass with a finish of a fresh green tomato. It is fruity and fresh, with a very green olive flavor.”
I was intrigued!
I’ve been using olive oil a lot lately. As part of my slow transformation from a diet heavy in refined carbs and saturated fats (lots of butter on those thick, crusty white bread slices) into a healthier diet, I’ve been using olive oil in everything, including baked goods. I actually discovered that using olive oil, in small quantities, in muffins and even in pancakes works very well. It definitely works in savory baked goods, including my famous pita bread, yeast breads, and savory quick breads.
The first thing we did when the Lochitello olive oil had arrived was to pour a little into a small bowl. We then used crusty homemade bread to taste it. With or without a little balsamic vinegar, we loved it. We turned this into a proper olive oil tasting by also pouring a little extra virgin olive oil of a different brand – the Whole Foods store brand – into another bowl, and comparing the two oils. They were both very good, but the flavors were decidedly different. The Whole Foods brand was heavy and had a strong, earthy flavor. The Lochitello olive oil was indeed light, “fruity and fresh.”
Of course, I had to make a recipe too! I made onion rolls, AKA Pletzlach (thank you Avital for reminding me of those!). My husband’s late grandma used to make them. The first time I visited his parents’ house, I discovered a small basket filled with these rolls, wrapped in plastic, nestled above the refrigerator. They were golden brown and innocent-looking, but as he opened the plastic bag for me (I asked for a taste, I’m not the shy type when it comes to foods that look promising), the amazing yeasty-oniony aroma enveloped me, promising intense pleasure. I bit into one, and as I experienced the doughy goodness of these little baked treasures, I knew I was going to marry him. 😉
The original recipe is here: Lights of Life, and Food of Memory. I adapted it to use in my beloved bread machine. Here goes:
Onion Rolls Recipe
Makes 20 rolls
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large egg
4 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4.5 teaspoons bread machine yeast, or 2 packets rapid rise yeast
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Place first 7 ingredients into bread machine pan and select the dough cycle. When done, remove, cover with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile:
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Place diced onion in a small bowl, and stir in poppy seeds and 2 teaspoons olive oil.
4. Divide dough into 20 balls, each weighing about 50 grams. On a floured board, roll each ball into a 1-inch thick circle.
5. Sprinkle a tablespoon of onion-poppy seed mixture on each circle, and gently roll to 1/8-inch thickness.
6. Prick each circle with a fork and sprinkle with some kosher salt.
7. Transfer to 2 ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
This is for one roll, but you can’t stop at one!
Total Fat 3.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Sodium 179.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.9 g
Sugars 2.6 g
Protein 3.1 g
Di Palo Selects is generously offering to send one of my readers a bottle of Lochitello Cerasuola olive oil. If you’re a US resident over 18 and are interested, please email me – vered (at) momgrind.com. I’ll keep this open for entries until tonight at 8pm Pacific time, and will then use random.org to draw the winner. Good luck! –> Congrats to Patricia for winning!