Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
New Spanish Olive Oils from the very first day of the 2021 harvest
In these winter months, we can all probably use something to brighten up our days. And if you love big, green, peppery oils, we have two special oils from Castillo de Canena’s 2021 harvest could be just the ticket. The arrival of the new harvest olive oils is one of my favorite parts of this time of year. This amazing oil is the culinary equivalent of a first day cover—extra virgin olive oil bottled on the very first day of last fall’s olive harvest. It’s delicious! Super green. Super great. I’ve been eating it almost non-stop since it came in a few weeks ago! Grab some now while the grabbing is good; supply is short, and the great green grassiness of the oil diminishes just a teeny bit every day.
The oil comes from the farm of Francesco and Rosa Vaño in the town of Canena in Southern Spain. Written documentation of the family’s ownership of the land dates to 1780. The castle itself was built in the first half of the 16th century by Arab colonists, working atop the remains of Roman ruins. Growing is done using “integrated pest management”—only one step away from full organic certification. Drip irrigation is solar powered. Comparable care is given to create the excellence of the actual oil. The harvest starts very, very early by typical Spanish standards, meaning, high flavor and more antioxidants, but markedly lower yield. The fruit is taken from the tree by hand and the olives are pressed in less than three hours, minimizing the risk of oxidation and protecting the flavor of the oil that emerges. The new oil goes immediately into nitrogen filled stainless steel tanks in cooled cellars, all of which acts to protect the quality of the oil. Bottling is followed by a quick flush of nitrogen to keep the oil intact after it’s left the estate. All of which has a big impact on quality and shelf life.
The crew at Canena produce two of these “first day oils”—one from Arbequina olives and one, my personal favorite, from Picual olives. Take a whiff from the top of the open bottle right after you open it and you’ll get a pretty clear sense of what will come next—it’s big, green, grassy, lively; a bit of a culinary version of smelling salts for anyone who’s feeling a bit knocked down by the December cold and this past weekend’s snowstorm. The oil itself is super green in color—pour it on toasted Paesano bread and you’ll be pretty sure to smile. The flavor is complex, fruity, and buttery at the same time. It’s well-rounded, big but still really balanced. Its aroma is amazing with hints of green apple, and the finish has great notes of green grass, green tomato, artichoke, and a tiny touch of sweetness countered by a lovely compelling bitterness. It’s won an array of international awards over the last few years! Pour some onto a grilled steak or sautéed swordfish. Terrific on cooked white beans or green lentils. A special oil all the way around!!
> Shop Castillo de Canena First Day Olive Oils 2021 Harvest at the Deli for PICKUP OR ANN ARBOR DELIVERY