Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Don’t miss the limited edition oil from Il Molino
The new crop of Il Molino oil from Lazio in central Italy is super tasty—seriously, it’s another of those particularly amazing, so-good-I-just-gotta-write-
The Il Molino estate is a restored 17th-century farmhouse, located in Montefiascone in the north of the region of Lazio, near the town of Viterbo and the shore of the beautiful Lago Bolsena. It’s about an hour and a half north of Rome, just west of the main road to Florence, and roughly 200 miles due east of the Abruzzo town of Pianella where the Peduzzi family makes Rustichella pasta. Although olives and oil have been produced on the estate for hundreds of years, it’s just in the last decade that their oil has been offered for sale under the Il Molino label. What we have on the shelf right now is a small subset of their already small production—only 2000 bottles are packed with a beautiful blue rose on the label.
There are many factors that contribute to the high quality of the Il Molino oil. Unlike most modern commercial olive farms, the trees on the estate are very old (some over 200 years) and the spacing of the trees in the field is much wider. The olives are pressed within a very impressive three to four hours of picking (anything under 24 hours is considered to be quite good), again contributing to quality. Additionally, Annalisa Torzilli and her team store the oil under nitrogen to protect it from oxidation. Annalisa is also very adamant about sustainable farming—the oil is certified organic. The oil is made from a blend of Caninese, Leccino, and Frantoio olives—the Canino is increasingly hard to find, but has long been known for the complexity of its character. The microclimate around the lake makes for milder weather, which helps enhance the quality of the oil. The label is a tribute to Stelvio Coggiatti—journalist, writer, botanist, and Annalisa’s father-in-law—who planted the beautiful roses that grow so abundantly in the Il Molino gardens. Coggiatti wrote two books on roses in the ’80s, back when we were still just getting going at the Deli. His second, The Language of Roses, has beautiful watercolors of 63 different roses, painted by Swiss flower artist Anne-Marie Treschlin!
Il Molino’s commitment to quality comes through in the oil, which is exceptionally good; beautifully bitter, alive, sharp in a sensationally wonderful way. It’s harvested exceptionally early—this year in late September (as opposed to the more typical mid-late October for most) which reduces yield but increases intensity and complexity of flavor. The flavor is good, the aroma so appealing, that for me a few tastes on fresh bread or toast can turn a difficult day around in a matter of minutes. When I consider the impact that my energy can have on our greater ecosystem, the cost of the oil turns into a tiny investment in holistic health!
Il Molino has won a wealth of awards over the last few years, and for good reason—the oil is really terrific! The aroma has a lovely bit of green grassiness. The flavor is fine and very different from any other oil we’ve got—it’s both bitter and subtly sweet at the same time, with a gentle hint of white pepper at the end. It’s excellent on salads of spicy greens like arugula where its simultaneous sweetness and spiciness show to full effect. Same can be said for roast pork or beef, cooked greens, or pasta (this oil over the Rustichella Senatore Cappelli Linguine with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano would be wonderful). And of course, the best snack in the world is a slice of Bakehouse Bread—maybe Paesano—toasted and topped with some of this olive oil and a bit of Fleur de Sel.