2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
So the recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of “Olive Oil” but what bottle should you buy or pull out of the pantry? With some luck the chef will at least specify that it should be Extra Virgin. However, I have yet to see a trend where recipes recommend one olive oil over another. This can be likened to stating 2 cups of wine in a recipe without specifying if it is a sherry, white, red or sweet wine.
This shows the lack of overall knowledge of chefs at an international level regarding olive oil. Chefs fresh out of cooking schools even in Spain will confess that there is very little information offered on olive oil and even with a degree are lost when it comes to choosing one over another.
Recently, I went to La Azotea (Calle Zaragoza), a really great tapas restaurant in Seville, that I remembered had used the fabulous local EVOO from Basselippo. They had stopped using it for one reason over another, most likely related to cost. When I asked the waiter what they were using he brought out an olive oil that had a slight winey defect. At first he was convinced that the olive oil was good but was open minded and listened to my comments and transmitted them to the chef.
I will still go back to La Azotea but I will not be ordering dishes with olive oil until I am sure that they have invested in a good product. For me it confirms yet again that chefs either do not care enough or are just very poorly informed on olive oil and when they need to cut costs EVOO is the first to go.
On an up note, I tilt my hat to, Puratasca, a fabulous tapas bar in Triana, that is using Supremo. If you go, go early there is good reason they fill up fast. Could it be because they use Supremo EVOO?
So what can we do to change this trend?
1. Get informed. Learn about olive oil by attending an olive oil tasting carried out by an expert. Ask what training the instructor has. If they are not versed in olive oil (say they are a wine expert) keep looking. You wouldn’t go to pilates taught by a football coach, right?
2. In good restaurants ask what EVOO they use and demand a good product. Make sure they at least use EVOO (not pure or virgin olive oil) to finish dishes and dress salads.
3. If you know it is not good, send it back. We would send a wine back that has turned to vinegar so why should we swallow rancid, fusty, or musty olive oil?
4. Expect to pay a little extra. The efforts to produce an EVOO are not the same than a virgin olive oil (an olive oil with sensory defects). As my father says, if it is too good to be true, it probably is. This goes for olive oil. If it is cheap, it is for a good reason.