Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Cutting Edge Olive Oil from Umbria. Fruit-forward flavor and a fine peppery finish!
I think of the Italian region of Umbria often. One of my good friends, Elizabeth Minchilli lives in Rome, but she and her family have a “summer home” up in Umbria that they visit regularly, and she’s been after me to visit for ages now. On top of all that I have very fond memories of visiting (decades ago now)—I love the small to mid-sized hill towns, I love that it has so much of what makes Tuscany so wonderful but with only about 20 percent of the tourists. And, of course, I love the food! All of which will help you understand why, when I saw a new olive oil that had just arrived at the Deli from Umbria, my curiosity was immediately piqued. And I’m pleased to report this Umbrian olive oil is excellent!
The Domenica Fiore farm is located near the beautiful hill town of Orvieto. Cesare Bianchini, is the oil master—he’s been studying olive growing, agronomy, pressing, and blending for years and has clearly put his learning to good use. Canadian businessman Frank Giustra has helped make it all a reality by coordinating the project. He has a lifelong bond and emotional connection to Italy. His mother, for whom the oil is named, is Italian. “My mother spent her life in the kitchen cooking. My memories are of platefuls of steamed vegetables covered with olive oil. It was delicious.”
Cesare’s approaches to agriculture make intuitive, harmonious sense to me. “Environment must be respected. This position and these characteristics provide us the ideal conditions to carry out an even more respectful management of our olive groves,” said Bianchini. The farm organically grows four varietals of olives: Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino, and Canino. Irrigation is minimal, lowering yields, but concentrating flavors. Olives are handpicked and pressed within hours. The newly pressed oil is immediately stored and conditioned with nitrogen and then packed into opaque, stainless steel bottles.
The results are really something. Food 52 loved the oil: “This fruity, medium-bodied, golden green olive oil has won international awards—and we’d give it a blue ribbon ourselves. It’s highly complex with a persistent flavor (lingering on the tongue).” The Domenica Fiore is an oil with a big, fruit-forward flavor. It’s my kind of oil. It’s bold, memorable, starkly distinctive like a Cubist painting. George Braque maybe. Big green. Cutting edge. Spicy. Crisp. Hints of just-cut grass, green tomato, and artichoke. Memorable and marvelous. An oil that stands solidly on its own two feet, but is well behaved enough not to step on yours.
The Domenica Fiore oil is great with a big chunk of fresh Paesano bread from the Bakehouse. It’s beautiful on bruschetta—toast some Farm bread or Country Miche and pour it on along with a sprinkle of Fiore di Sale. Put it on pasta—cook some good Martelli spaghetti or Rustichella linguine, pour on plenty of the oil, add a bunch of black pepper and that amazing, big flavored Borgotaro Parmigiano Reggiano, and eat it while it’s hot! It’s great on a steak, a piece of grilled tuna or broiled swordfish. It’s lovely on a great heirloom lettuce (Ann Arbor Seed Company has some great ones). –