When we first started this business in 2006 and received our first batch of oil from the folks in Amelia in January, we realized immediately how lucky we were to be tasting a fresh product which most people in North America will never experience. The new oil is intense tasting and bursting with flavour. You can really pick up the grassy, fruity flavours and peppery finish, in a good year. By “good year” I’m referring to the fact that we have come to recognize that each year presents it’s own unique flavours in the olive oil. Much like wine, olive oil is influenced by the weather and precipitation during the growing season. Some years have been hot and dry, especially 2008. The oil that year had a much more buttery taste and although smooth, I felt it lacking the usual punch of say the 2007 oil. Some of our customers preferred this oil, but many agreed they liked the greener taste of previous oils. The last few years have been pretty consistent and favourable weather wise, resulting in very good oil. One thing Francesco’s Dad, Vincenze told us, was that they are now harvesting the oil much earlier than they did 15-20 years ago. This is thought to be brought about by climate change, as the summers are hotter and the olives are ripening sooner. They used to harvest in December and now they start picking the end of Oct. and November.
I like to think of the arrival of the new oil as a celebration equivalent, to the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. (probably tastier) This year when you get your new oil why not plan your own little celebration. My suggestion would be to have a few friends over and make a little bruschetta. You can just grill some good crusty slices of bread and rub a clove of garlic across it when hot and then drizzle the new oil on top. If you want to get jazzy you can come up with all sorts of interesting toppings but plain is probably the best way to taste the oil. Tomatoes aren’t in season and the ones you get are often lacking in flavour this time of year so why not try something different, perhaps a little proscutto and a shaving of good parmesean? Here is a favorite combo of mine that hints of spring to come.
Sweet Pea Bruschetta with Mint and Pecorino
Take about 10 oz. of frozen organic peas, defrost to room temp and pat dry.
Combine peas, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper in food processor. Puree till smooth and bright.
Spoon on to toasted baguette slices and top with ribbons of fresh mint leaves and a shaving of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Have a few friends over when the new Amelia Oil arrives, crack open a little Prosecco, serve up some bruscetta and have your own little Olio Nuovo Celebration.