Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Good Oil

I have been known to sit down to the odd dinner with just a good olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, and some crusty sourdough, divine! I consider olive oils to be one of my favourite indulgences.

Did you know that about 90% of the world’s olives are made into olive oil? That’s pretty impressive! Apart from its well documented heart protecting benefits, the high concentration of phytosterols (plant sterols) and antioxidants found in olive oil suggest that it might help protect us from some cancers, particularly breast and colon cancers. So drink up people!

When it comes to olive oil, Pete is a purist. He doesn’t like the infused varieties whereas I love the certain oomph! that the right flavoured oil can bring to a dish. One of my favourites is a parmesan infused olive oil I first picked up when I visited Olio Bello in Margaret River, WA. I only bought a teeny tiny bottle because I wasn’t sure how it would taste when added to food. WOW, it was SO good; I wish I had purchased a larger bottle. It was perfect drizzled over pasta dishes, particularly bolognaise. I must admit though, it’s probably a good thing I ran out of it, given my new year’s food resolution to end my long running love affair with pasta.

Another favourite of mine (and Pete’s too) is Nolans Road Olive Oil from South Australia. We were first introduced to this oil whist dining at Seans Panaroma a few years ago and were blown away; it truly is a heavenly drop! It is certified organic and comes in delicate and robust varieties and is a must try for all you olive oil lovers out there. At first we found it hard to find a local stockist, but we managed to find it at the about life store in Rozelle after a lot of ringing around. At the time it was the only place that stocked it, however they now distribute all over Australia, yay!  You can find out more about stockists in your local area by clicking here.

I also wanted to share two other varieties of oil with you: macadamia nut oil and walnut oil. If you haven’t already tried macadamia nut oil, DO! It is so amazing, particularly during these hotter months drizzled over a fresh green salad. It just adds a beautiful subtle nutty flavour to salads and you don’t even have to add anything else to the dressing as it is wonderful on its own.

On our recent trip to France, we visited a little medieval commune called Beynac-et-Cazenac, it was a gorgeous quaint little place located on the Dordogne River in the Perigord Region of South Western France. If you have ever seen the movie Chocolat starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche or Ever After with Drew Barrymore, then you would have seen Beynac, both movies were filmed there.  


                           Beynac-et-Cazenac ( Photo: The Food Mentalist)



The region is well known for its cuisine including duck confit, foie gras and the humble walnut. It was here that I purchased a bottle of ‘Huile de Noix’( Walnut Oil). I haven’t opened it yet and I don’t know how I will use it. Salads are an option, but I was thinking more along the lines of something sticky and sweet, any suggestions?


                           Olive & Walnut oils (right) Picture: (The Food Mentalist)


As you can see it has a darker caramel colour to it than other oils. Next to it, is a bottle of olive oil I picked up at Les Halles in Lyon, it has a nice subtle flavour and to be honest I bought it because 1. it is French and 2. I just LOVED the bottle J. It is a really good drop, but I much prefer something like Nolans Road.

Hope you have enjoyed this post, please comment below and tell me your favourite olive oil or leave me a suggestion on what I can make using my walnut oil.

Erin x



6 comments:

Claire @ Claire K Creations said...

I love olive oil. I first fell in love with it in Spain. Olive oil, sea salt and warm crust bread...heaven!

The InTolerant Chef said...

I love flavoured oils and have about 10 types in my pantry. Wanut oil is great in salads, or make a walnut bread and drizzle it over,or a mayo with it to team with steamed asparagus or other dark greens, but if you want sticky and sweet- maybe baklava fingers with the pastry brushed with the oil, or an almond cake converted to walnut meal using the oil for the fat content.
My favourite oil is plain basil. I drizzle it over gfree toast with tomato and goats cheese, or it's a great alternative to pesto. Yumm...

Gourmet Getaway said...

Gorgeous story, I love France and hope to be having my third holiday there next july "en vacances." You have inspired me to watch "chocolat" again :)

Anonymous said...

Oops, I opened the walnut oil and used it in place of peanut oil in the Vietnamese beef salad...

Pete.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I really want to get into walnut and other nut oils and I see them all the time in shops. I like infused oils if they're agrumato infused oils where they crush the whole fruit with the olives so that you get this amazing flavour (rather than using essences).

Anonymous said...

Nice article! I made a beautiful olive oil flatbread from the bourke st bakery cookbook today... and yes I do agree olive oil is devine and tastes so good as a bread dipping sauce with balsamic and salt (reminds me of my italian days... )

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