Regular readers know that I'm something of an olive oil geek. There are few things more fun for me to do than cozy up to an olive oil bar and taste different varieties from an assortment of countries.
But I'm a big fan of our California oils and a new one was sent to me by Anna Zoitas, the owner of The Artisanal Kitchen. I have to admit I was a skeptic. After all, she's a New Yorker, but her oil is a combination of three olive varieties grown in California--hence the name Three Olives Olive Oil.
But Zoitas, whose family owns the New York City specialty food chain Westside Market, explained to me that "making olive oil is in my family roots, as both my grandparents produced their own olive oil on the island of Lefkada in Greece." That's where she spent her summers and she admits that trying to replicate in New York the kind of farm eating and artisan living she experienced in Greece has been a challenge. She chose olives grown in California because they had the standards she'd been searching for and she could have the oil certified by the California Olive Oil Council, or COOC. Additionally, she could work with the farmers to optimize the flavor with the varieties she wanted.
What she ended up with are the small, fruity Arbequina--a native of Spain, the nutty and peppery Arbosona (also from Spain), and a Greek variety--the fruity and aromatic Koroneiki. The result is a rich and complex unfiltered oil with just a hint of a kick to it, thanks to the Koroneiki. This is not a cooking oil. You'll want to save it for dressings, dipping bread, or finishing a dish so that you can pull in all the flavor possible.
Three Olives Olive Oil is available only on The Artisanal Kitchen website.