Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
Green, bold, peppery, and perfect for dressing ripe tomatoes!
One of the biggest, greenest, and tastiest olive oils we have on hand is this organic offering from the Pellegrino family in the Southern Italian region of Puglia! It’s an estate oil—made exclusively with olives grown on the family’s farm near the Ann Arbor-sized town of Andria, not too far from the Adriatic Sea. I visited the farm for the first time nearly 30 years ago and we’ve been buying from the Pellegrinos ever since. La Spineta is the name they use for most of their excellent oil. Petraia olive oil is a particularly special portion of what they produce and is fully organic. Here’s a bit of what I wrote back when we started carrying it:
What makes [the oil from] La Spineta so special for me are … a dedication to sound agricultural practices; a deep care for, and commitment to, the land; and a well-made, full-flavored olive oil that sets a standard for Pugliese product. Elia Pellegrino is the 4th generation to manage La Spineta since the family first took over in 1890.
As is often the case in Italy, the old building that houses the Pellegrino family’s masserie (the name used for the old estate farms in the region) dates back to the middle of the 16th century when it was built as the church of San Giorgio. Inside another building 50 yards away is a well-kept, impressively clean, very modern mill for pressing the oil. The family business dates back to 1890. It’s only a century later, in 1990, that the family began selling its olive oil straight to the market with its own label. They work with Coratina olives, the local specialty, which is known for its big flavor and the peppery finish of its oil, both of which show up really well with this wonderful oil.
The land on which the olives for the Petraia oil are grown comprises about 30 acres of the estate’s best land. The oil brings a lovely, big, flavor, aromatically enticing, with a bit of black pepper in the finish. It’s bold, but in the same way that Tchaikovsky’s symphonies would sound—it swirls around you, grabs your attention, but won’t overwhelm you. Great on toast—the Paesano bread, drawn as it is from the Pugliese tradition, is a perfect base for the oil. Lovely on bitter greens, tomatoes, swordfish, or steak. Great on fresh fruit as well—I put some on slices of fresh peach the other evening! As the Deli’s longtime Co-Managing Partner and new member of the Stewardship Council, Grace Singleton says, “The Petraia is fantastic this year!”