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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food and Drink

There is a lot of bad, over-priced pizza in this world. Fortunately, making pizza at home is easy. One critical ingredient for delicious, homemade pizza is olive oil.

Last August, Tom Mueller wrote an article for The New Yorker about wide-spread fraud in the production of Italian extra-virgin olive oil. Mueller wrote that the mechanics of simply substituting cheap ingredients - soybean oil, for example - for real olive oil were quite easy, and the economics of olive oil production made it worthwhile to do so. Check out this link to NPR, where you can click to The New Yorker article and also listen to an interview with Mueller.

After reading Mueller's article, I decided to forget about buying Italian olive oil - I'm not in a position to get to know any producers of Italian olive oil, and I'm not interested in sifting and winnowing between the various brands of Italian oil on the supermarket shelves to determine who is a cheat and who is not. Instead, I turned to California.

I began with the California Olive Oil Council. Olive oil certified by the COOC is 100 percent extra virgin olive oil. There are many producers to choose from and they are listed at the COOC's site. I've just begun mining this terrific source for delicious oil, but I can say that one of the first choices is a winner: Pasolivo Olive Oil.

Pasolivo is for occasions when the flavor of the oil is the focal point: it is for dipping, for drizzling, for brushing and basting. You don't need to use this top flight oil for more ordinary tasks, such as sauteing onions and garlic; a 'lesser' olive oil will do for that. But where olive oil is the star, try this brand. On NPR, Tom Mueller described the flavor elements of real olive oil, and those elements describe Pasolivo. It is peppery, and appropriately pungent. It evokes fresh olives and has just the right touch of bitterness. Wonderful!

For that dish where the flavor of olive oil is a leading player, consider exploring Pasolivo and other California olive oils.