Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Oregon: Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge

Roasted eggplant brushed with spices and, of course, olive oil

Thanks to my in-laws, my husband and I were recently introduced to Red Ridge Oregon Olive Mill from Dayton, Oregon. I’m pretty obsessed with olive oil - or rather, obsessed with olive oil that tastes like olive oil should - and was thrilled to see the beautiful bottles with the rich green oil.

We tried three different kinds of oil from the Red Ridge Olive Mill: Tuscan new oil, Arbequina new oil and Arbequina extra virgin olive oil. Each one had a slightly different flavor, color and fullness. My favorite was the Tuscan new oil, but that's because it tasted most like my favorite olive oils from my time in Florence. 

To help give the olive oil the platform it deserved, I crafted a few dishes that would highlight it: Homemade Italian bread to dip in the oil (with some salt and maybe spices and garlic, too), light vegetable pasta sauces that benefit from an additional splash of oil before serving, and, perhaps our favorite, roasted eggplant slices brushed with spices and, of course, olive oil.

You can learn a little more about olive oil here. In addition, “Slippery Business” is an older article from the New Yorker about more origins of olive oil, but the basic issues still hold true. Why not avoid any possible mystery and buy your oil from a small farm?

How much olive oil do you cook with? Frankly, there’s rarely a meal in our house without some. Between us, I even put it on my hot breakfast cereal instead of butter. 


JW said...

I have reduced the amount that I cook with. Because of the low smoke-point, I find that heartier oils are needed for high-temperature cooking, even just sauteeing.

BUT, when it comes to dressings, dips, or even a bit in soup, olive-oil is a must. So tasty!

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

Thanks for sharing, JW. Very true that olive oil doesn't hold up to high heats. What other oils do you prefer?

JW said...

Peanut oil is my preferred for stir-fry. If it is going to be a very short fry, then coconut oil is very tasty. But it also has a low smoke-point, so one needs to be careful.

Safflower oil is pretty decent for most other "fry pan" sort of things where a durable oil is needed.

In both cases, I've tended to go overboard with the OO in the past, but that was because it burned off. With the oils above, I've found I really need to control my hand and stick to 2t or 1T at most. A little does go a long way.

But in many other cases, as heretical as it may seem, common vegetable oil fits the bill very nicely. The other oils are only really needed for either flavor or high-heat durability.

And, just to be clear, the concern over durability is about the oil not burning during the cooking process. Burned OO isn't as tasty...

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

Great insight, thanks! I tend to use olive oil for most cooking, peanut oil for deep frying and vegetable oil for some baked goods.

JW said...

Baking! Yes, I neglected that. Vegetable oil is my preferred there. I have used safflower oil in a pinch. It makes things a little heavier and that is something to be careful of.