Olive Oil, NYC

I have always disliked olive oil, probably because I’ve never tasted truly good olive oil. I use tasteless canola for practically everything. But I’m getting adventurous in my old age, and I want to try it.

I’ve found that in New York city for certain things, you either pay top dollar for specialty items, or you buy low-end garbage. Is there a middle way with olive oil?

I looked on the bottle of fairway Olive oil, and it said that it was a blend of Spanish Portuguese and Greek Olive oils. I have read that this is a dead giveaway of poor quality. Is this true? What about Trader Joe’s? How is their olive oil?

I think Trader Joe’s California olive oil is perfectly fine. Fairway used to have an olive oil tasting bar - which has probably been eliminated because of the pandemic - that was a great place to experiment. I think it’s more important to find one you like than to stress over low quality vs high quality.

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There are actually two EVOO that I find both affordable and of high quality – in other words, very good QPR.

California Olive Branch EVOO, which you can find at any WalMart.

Cobram Estate EVOO, which you can find at Target.

Also, if you don’t mind buying in bulk (or at least in large volume), the Kirkland brand at Costco is also quite good.

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I like California Olive Ranch too.

OP - Since we do not have a Walmart in NYC, it can also be found in WF and many other places:

Murray’s and Buon Italia have good selections:
https://www.murrayscheese.com/oil-vinegar
https://buonitalia.com/product-category/oils-vinegars/extra-virgin-olive-oil/?v=7516fd43adaa

And of course, Eataly.

Read this recent article for more ideas: https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-olive-oils-according-to-chefs.html

Thanks! I forgot we have a Whole Foods in NYC…

Walmarts & Targets are in short supply.

California Olive Branch - nice!

Interestingly they have two kinds on Amazon - “rich/robust”, and “mild/bitter” - I would have thought the mild would not be bitter.

But I know nothing of olive oils.

True Extra Virgin will have a slightly acidic taste. I suppose it might be called bitter. Every olive tree & every grove has a different flavor.

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Steven Jenkins, the former impresario of olive oil and cheese (and pretty much every else) at Fairway, is now importing his own oils:

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Note:

I ended up buying Trader Joe’s California EVOO. They had several types, all reasonable. I chose that because it seemed like it was their version of the California brand recommended herein.

The labels look incredibly similar. LOL.

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There are about nine Targets in Manhattan alone. “A” Whole Foods? There are 11 in Manhattan.

If you buy really good olive oil and use that when you want that buttery flavor… the expensive stuff does it’s job and does it well. The cheap stuff is just that…
For flavorless oil I like Grape seed oil like chef Irvine.
For stir fry it needs to be sesame.
When I do any Mexican deep frying its straight up corn.

One day I will press my own olives… For now I just cure them in water… I love my olive tree!

nycch: Welcome back. A couple of comments, apropos of nothing: first, indoor dining is re-opening this weekend and we’re off to Henry’s End for turtle soup, etc. (I remember our interaction about it several years ago). Secondly, thanks for the Steve Jenkins link. I used to play tennis with him & wondered if he’d reappear after he “retired” from Fairway.

Tom Mueller’s book Extra Virginity was quite a helpful book 10 years ago, and for some time he kept a website that kept track of the good/bad/ugly olive oils. I see he’s taken down the website, though the book is still interesting even if all you remember from it is the depth of sleaze and dishonesty in a lot of the olive oil business (familiar trusted brands that sometimes aren’t even made from olives, etc.).

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Hi, SteveR. Good memory, but as a high-risk oldster, I’m not comfortable with the idea of resuming restaurant dining.

SteveJ is selling some good stuff, if not exactly cheap.

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Thanks for this. Fairway’s balsamic was excellent too.

Understood. We’re not exactly spring chickens ourselves (over 65), but got our 1st dose of the vaccines a couple of weeks ago and are feeling ok with places where we know the owner and are sure of the precautions being taken. Jenkins is incredible with cheese and olive oil (not so much with tennis - hope he’s reading along :sunglasses:) & several years ago, when we took a trip to Umbria, he set us up on a day at a small family run frantoia in Todi, tasting olive oils straight from the family’s trees and touring their mill, etc. Nice to see that he’s working again. By the way, I went on his website and, in the media section, there’s a link to an epicurious article (https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/the-absolute-best-extra-virgin-olive-oil-for-cooking-article) that’s well worth looking at, tasting and rating a number of oils.

Wow, that Olive Oil Jones site is beautiful, and their arbequina is very tempting, but I’m not crazy about those prices – they’re much higher than what it cost at Fairway ($50 instead of $15-$20 for a liter). That’s somewhat understandable since I’m sure it’s a much smaller operation, and I bet they’re worth it, but I’ll probably wait for a special occasion like Christmas before I think about that kind of splurge. I really miss my Brooklyn Fairway and its excellent OOVOs. After heavy usage of those for months, I became spoiled and can’t go back to Trader Joe’s olive oils. They taste rancid to me now! (Except maybe the California one, that might be OK.) I tried TJ’s Tunisian unfiltered organic OOVO recently. It comes in a lovely tin. But, nope, not a fan. Too astringent, and not particularly fresh-tasting.

I’m feeling too nervous about Covid for a jaunt into Manhattan to visit its Fairways. Fortunately I have the Industry City Sahadi’s near me and found a pretty good Greek Kalamata OOVO there, Agrovim Iliada. It’s $12.50 for 750 ml (25 oz.). It’s rich and unmistakably olive-y, the kind where you can be sure, just by tasting it, that there’s no cheating being done, no grapeseed or canola or sunflower oil in there. IMHO it’s definitely better than Zoe, which I also tried at Sahadi’s and wasn’t crazy about. It tastes very neutral to me, not bad, but a bit blah, not much taste, maybe more reminiscent of sunflower oil with a few olives tossed in, though definitely not as bad as some of the other junky olive oils I’ve found around here. Anybody have any other recommendations for southern or central Brooklyn? I love fruity ones that aren’t too astringent. Thanks!

Olive oil can have so many different flavor profiles - buttery, peppery, herbaceous, citrusy, bitter (in a good way) - very much like wine. It may take a couple of tries before you find one you like. You may want to start with one that is not quite so powerful (for lack of a better word) to start.

I’ve hosted olive oil tasting events. Most people don’t realize how varied olive oils can be. Well, maybe most people in the world though probably not most on HO. It is very interesting. You use small, blue glasses so as not to be swayed by color variations when tasting.

Enjoy the hunt!

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One only has to go to Spain. Good olive oil PARADISE! Every village has farmers who make their own. The oils all taste different depending on several factors.

This is just a small selection at my lodging. The unfiltered oils blew me away. My breakfast every day for a week was just bread (baked daily by the lodging’s neighbours) and these oils. The owner filled a bottle with unfiltered oil for me (as a free gift) when I departed.

If I want a Spaniard to look at me with contempt I tell them “Italian olive oils are the best”. They all know the story about Italians buying Spanish oils and selling them as “Italian”.

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I ended up buying this & it was great. Thanks for changing my mind about olive oil.

I’ve got a great recipe for country-style phyllo dough waiting…

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold