You knew this post was coming....after spending 4 1/2 months here in Italy, I've become a crusader for pure extra virgin olive oil from Italy. You may be buying what you think is extra virgin Italian olive oil, but in fact most of the big producers get their oil from all over the Mediterranean, and then process it here, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that to the mix to make it turn out (chemically) like extra virgin.
A great read on this story is the book Extra Virginity, chronicling the worst fraud that has been perpetrated on the cooking public for years.
Extra virgin olive oil should be the first cold press, then you need to read the label....many big producers are now announcing that their olive oil MAY have come from Tunisia, Spain, etc. but many are not, and you are not getting what you pay for. At the Colavita frantoia (where they press the olives) you can buy gallons for only E2---or about $3.50 a gallon.
Each oil in each region should receive a DOP or DOC seal on the bottle to let you know that a consortium in that region has certified that the oil is from that region and has passed stringent requirements to get that seal. These are the oils you want to buy....it's going to cost you more, but the flavor, and the product itself is pure, and not a mixture of pomace oil (the lowest of the low) lamp oil that's been manipulated in centrifuges, or sunflower seed oil. Don't kid yourself into thinking you are getting the best when you buy that bottle of Bertoli, or Berio. Most bottles on your supermarket shelf are a mix of Mediterranean oils--you are not getting the true flavor of any region when you buy them, and you may see "product of Italy" on the label, but that only means that the oil has been bottled here, not pressed here. Gigantic tankers pull up to ports in Pulia loaded with Spanish and Tunisian olive oil and then have them mixed to replicate the acidity, and ph that is needed to be called extra virgin, they are then bottled in Italy and assigned the label "product of Italy".
So where do you get the real deal? I order mine from Enoteca Properzio here in Spello--they have three different DOP oils that they sell.
|Mona Lisa is my fave in San Diego|
The olio nuovo is coming in right now, it is dark green in color, cloudy and viscous, but oh so delicious! Toasted bread drizzled with this oil is a religious experience!