On 20 June, Mauro Boero of Olioitalia held an olive oil tasting at Balzano’s in Cambridge. Olioitalia is the importer of high quality extra virgin olive oils from Calabria, Italy. Mauro was raised on his family’s olive grove in Italy so he knows all about olive oil and its health benefits. It’s high in vitamin E, loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats and helps prevent cardio-vascular problems.
Olioitalia, based in Cambridge, is the importer of Pata organic infused extra virgin olive oils in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The infused olive oils are produced and bottled by Pata with the extra virgin olive oil from their olive grove in Calabria. The olives are of the Ottobratica variety.
The range, Le Opere e i Giorni (The Works and Days), is perhaps named after the ancient Greek poem. That’s my guess… after all, Italy’s beautiful Calabria region was first colonised by the Greeks! We have a choice of six flavours here: Basil, Rosemary, Lemon, Bergamot, Chilli as well as Garlic, Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar.
There was fresh bread on hand so we could dip it into small plates and taste each infused oil for ourselves. They were all equally delicious, with a fresh, vibrant taste of the infused ingredients, which are also organic with 100% traceability. The infused herbs and fruits also add to the health benefits of olive oil.
The basil infused olive oil is like a ready made pesto… just drizzle it on pasta with a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino or Grana Padano.
Bergamot is fresh and citrusy and is a key ingredient in Earl Grey tea. The infused olive oil goes particularly well with fish.
The olive oil infused with rosemary is delicious drizzled over chicken or roast potatoes.
Lemon is the original infused olive oil and goes well with fish, vegetables and white meat. Making a lemon tart or cake? This oil is perfect!
The garlic, black pepper and balsamic vinegar infused olive oil adds incredible flavour to meat, vegetables and pasta. The garlic is prominent but not overpowering and the balsamic vinegar is from Modena, home to some of the best in the world.
The chilli flavour adds a little kick to any dish. Excellent if you like your food with some spice to it. Good drizzled over bruschetta too!
Olioitalia is also the exclusive importer in the UK of a very high quality extra virgin olive oil, Antica Masseria Barbalace, also from Calabria, Italy. The olive oil has an incredibly low level of acidity, which is a sign of a superior quality. It’s single estate, made exclusively of Italian olives from Barbalace’s estate. The variety of olives used are Carolea (90%) and Nocellara (10%).
Antica Masseria Barbalace is vastly superior to any supermarket olive oil, even those labelled extra virgin. It has a fruity, light aroma and a sweet, full taste. If you’re in doubt about its authenticity and traceability, each can or bottle has a label with a QR code that takes you to Consorzio Volontario Olivicoltori, a consortium of olive growers specifically in the Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia provinces in Calabria, Italy. One of the companies listed is Barbalace.
One of my most eye-opening reads is a book titled “Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil” by Tom Mueller. You will learn a lot and understand the value of a high quality olive oil. There’s an informative review of the book in The Guardian, which you can read all about here.
Antica Masseria Barbalace extra virgin olive oils and Pata’s organic infused extra virgin olive oils can be found in some of the finest shops in Cambridge, such as Shelford Delicatessen and Balzano’s. You can also order online through Agrumia (a real treasure trove of Italian delights!) and Big Barn or contact Olioitalia directly at olioitalia [at] hotmail [dot] co [dot] uk.
Olioitalia were aware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. However, it is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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