Pairing EVOO with oranges
The World Olive Oil Exhibition was held this week in Madrid. The international event had over 60 exhibitors, an extensive oil bar, a business meeting point, gourmet products display area, cooking show, and two conference areas. International experts came to discuss topics such as trade, production and tasting.
Dr. Maria Paz Aguilera was one of the experts that spoke. She is one of Spain´s best tasters and I was fortunate enough to have her as my professor to become an Expert Taster.
She possesses one of the most important attributes to be a great taster, humility. In a soft voice she begins her lectures and even though she is a top expert on olive oil she explains things in a simple way that never makes her students feel inferior. A quote comes to mind: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
Visitors rushed to fill the seats to hear her discuss this year´s top EVOOs from the Jaen Selection contest.
Dr. Aguilera is the Head of the Experimental Kitchen Lab for Olive Oil and the Sensory Panel Head at Citoliva. Citoliva is a Foundation, located in Menjibar, Jaen, dedicated to promote and stimulate olive oil production, use and markets through scientific research.
The Kitchen Lab is the only lab to only carry out studies and experiments on olive oil and olive derivatives. Dr. Aguilera not only researches how to improve food value through the addition of olive oil but she also delves into how to make food taste better.
At the end of her tasting in Madrid, she demonstrated the art of pairing olive oil with different foods. She explained how foods could be contrasted or complemented by different olive oils and that some combinations could be very surprising. The unexpected combinations of the day were an orange desert salad and a piece of dark chocolate.
Each person in her audience was given a plate with oranges and chocolate. We also were supplied sugar, cinnamon and any Picual olive oil that had been chosen this year in Jaen Selección.
Picual early harvest olive oils have green leafy aromas and are usually marked by a delightful bitterness and spiciness. Since oranges, cinnamon and dark chocolate are bitter, the Picual olive oil complements this bitterness. However, the oil also contrasts the sweetness of the chocolate and oranges with its spiciness (pungency). These complementing and contrasting combinations become melodious when eaten and dance on our taste buds.
This is a perfect recipe for large family dinners. Those that you have been cooking for for days and now find out that you have a vegetarian, a vegan, a lactose intolerant person and one who thinks she may be gluten intolerant coming to your house. You can´t just buy a pie. We all have been there.
This dessert is typical from the Spanish province of Jaen. It only uses four ingredients, two you most definitely have in the house.
SIMPLE ORANGE DESSERT SALAD
Oranges (estimate one per two people)
Sugar (I use raw organic sugar)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Picual or Coratina. I used Nobleza del Sur´s Centenarium Premium)
- Peel oranges and then slice them into wheels.
- Place them on a plate. I give three slices per person.
- Dress the oranges or allow guests to dress their own. Sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon on the oranges and then drizzle with very high quality Picual or Coratina olive oil.
Note: María Paz Aguilera together with M. Uceda and I. Mazzuchelli have authored a manual on how to taste and pair olive oils called “Manual de cata y maridaje del aceite de olive”. This book explains, processes, tasting and pairing at length.