Earlier this month I was invited to the Toronto Zucchi Olive Oil Blending Event hosted by Aria Restaurant, here in Toronto. I LOVE extra virgin olive oil and was intrigued by the whole blending thing, I made my way down to the venue to check it out because I am not missing out on a chance to have some science fun.
|Taking home my personal blend|
The owner and blend master himself, Giovanni Zucchi, led us through a tasting, showing us the proper tasting technique (very similar to wine tasting where you take a sip, coat your mouth with the oil then noisily suck air in through pursed lips and then spit it out) and helped us to identify different flavours and how they reacted on the palate. If you think all olive oil is essentially the same, think again. Some show clear notes of pepper, some are kind of sweet, some are more acidic and others are fruity.
Professional olive oil tasters sip from blue glasses so that they can focus on the taste and the texture and not get hung up on the colour, something that a novice like me might do. First you cup the glass to warm the oil up and hold the other over the top to trap the aroma. You then stick your nose in, again like wine tasting, and take a deep smell. Some oils smelled a bit grassy, others smelled like ripe fruit. Then you taste and now you are looking for things like bitterness, pungency, is it buttery?
|my own personal blend|
I was not surprised that the oils that appealed to me the most were two Spanish and one Greek oil as those are the olive oils that I naturally gravitate towards and that dominate my own collection at home.
After the work was done we tasted some apps prepared by the restaurant that highlighted the flavours of Zucchio olive oil and had a glass or three of prosecco.
These types of events are only possible because of the Flavour Your Life Campaign, working to educate us North Americans on the benefits of European extra virgin olive oil. With funding from the European Union as well as the Italian government, this campaign represents a large group of European producers so that they can help us buy smarter and recognize superior brands of extra virgin olive oil.
Sadly, Zucchi oil is not yet available in Canada but it is widely available in the States.
To find an upcoming blending experience near you, click here to check the calendar