We celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday last February in Washington D.C. My mom took the extended family to dinner at her favorite French restaurant, in Georgetown. The restaurant, La Chaumière
, featured such delicacies as pike dumplings, or quenelles, roasted rack of lamb, and sautéed halibut. Mom discussed the wines with the restaurant owner beforehand. They settled on two French wines, a red Burgundy and a white Vouvray. Both paired beautifully with the meal’s different courses.The dinner comes to mind because I recently heard a fascinating talk about pairing different styles of extra virgin olive oil
with foods. The talk, by olive oil guru and cookbook author Fran Gage
, was part of a one day-course held at the University of California, Davis, Olive Center
.Gage based her food-pairing guidelines on three different styles of EVOO:
- Delicate oils, which have a slight bitterness and fruitiness. Most of the oils California Olive Ranch produces fall into this category
- Medium oils, which offer a pleasant bitterness and pungency
- Robust oils, which deliver the highest pungency and bitterness. These oils, which include our Olio Nuovo, also deliver the highest level of polyphenols – the chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Gage went out of her way to say these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. They’re excellent guidelines, however.To start, here are some guidelines for delicate oils such as our Arbequina
- As substitutes for butter. (The conversion is always replacing four parts butter with three parts EVOO – so four Tablespoons of butter becomes 3 Tablespoons EVOO.)
- For all-purpose mayonnaise and mashed potatoes
- With tender salad greens
- Drizzled over meats to bring out the sweetness of the meat
- With dishes that use blue cheese
- For “strong” pestos such as one made from wild arugula
- With tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe
- In dishes with strong tastes and components, such as smoked fish/salted cod
- As an ingredient when making pizza dough
- When baking cakes and cookies. It’s always a good choice for baking.
- For pound cake.
Next up: pairing foods with medium oils.Bon appétit,Claude S. WeillerVice President of Sales & MarketingCalifornia Olive Ranch