What do red wine vinaigrette and bitter greens have in common? They go best with medium-style extra virgin olive oils. So says olive oil guru Fran Gage.
I want to follow up on Gage’s eye-opening talk she gave recently about pairing different styles of extra virgin olive oil with food. I heard the talk during a conference at the University of California, Davis, Olive Center.
Medium-style EVOO, notes Gage, has a pleasant bitterness and pungency. These oils also “tend to be very versatile,” she writes in her book, The New American Olive Oil (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009). “The best of these olive oils have characteristics of both delicate and robust oils.”
What are examples of medium-style oils? Those made from French olive varietals such as Aglandau and Bouteillon or the Spanish varietal Hojiblanca, according to Gage.
Gage stressed her pairing suggestions aren’t hard-and-fast rules and other styles of olive oil can be substituted successfully. Here are her suggestions for foods that pair well with medium oils:
- Basil pesto that includes garlic
- Red wine vinaigrette
- Bitter greens (Gage didn’t specify, but I’m thinking chicory or escarole, for example.)
- Corn salad
- Spicy dishes, such as the curry-flavored mayonnaise featured in Gage’s book
- Fish dishes which are spicy
- Sautéed or slow-roasted meat dishes, such as the lamb shanks featured in Gage’s book
I’ll wrap up soon with a look at robust EVOO.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch