Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Olio Nuovo or New Harvest Olive Oils–Just in time for Hanukkah
I didn’t know it when I was a kid (my grandmother fried her latkes in Wesson), but new harvest olive oil (or Olio Nuovo as they would say in Italy) is really the closest to what Chanukah would have been about back in its own day. The first fruits of any harvest in ancient cultures nearly always went to the priests at the temple. You probably know the story: The Maccabees happily recapture the Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks, but find enough “holy oil” to last only one day. The oil burns eight days until more “holy oil” can be found. Hence the miracle. What would holy oil be? New harvest oil! When did Chanukah happen during the year? At the time of the olive harvest!
#1 Olio Verde
Olio Verde is one of my longtime favorites. Made by Gianfranco Becchina, from the olives of 300-year-old trees. Of this new harvest, friend and importer Rolando Beramendi says, “Brilliant! A seductive, herbaceous oil with an exotic spiciness that sparkles on the palate. Incredibly full of aromatic herbs—like rolling around in an herb garden! Each year, Olio Verde astounds—it just gets better and better.” I agree. It’s made solely from the special Sicilian Nocellara del Belice olive which yields a brightly-colored, luminescent oil (hence the name, “Olio Verde”). I’m drawn in by its grassy, green, almost artichoke-like flavors. Big, big, big! And very beautiful!
#2 from Titone
A new arrival from the western end of the island, near the town of Trapani. Less green than the Olio Verde but equally excellent, the Titone oil is aromatic, mouth-filling, and almost spine tingling in its terrificness—a bit of a high wire act across your palate. If you don’t want to go all the way to the extreme end of the super-green new harvest continuum that comes with Olio Verde, the Titone would be a wonderful way to go. Made with about 40% Nocellara del Belice with the addition of Biancolilla and a bit of Cerasuola. Lovely aroma, with notes of green tomato, the scent of tomato leaves, and a host of aromatic, wild, herbs. The oil’s mouthfeel is velvety, and the flavor is gently bitter, peppery but not over the top. Pour it on bruschetta, beans, greens, Romanesco, or just-cooked pasta.
Stay tuned! There will be more Olio Nuovo coming to the Deli soon!