14 July 2011

Olive Oil Tasting

Alternative title for this post: Yes, Really, I Get Paid for This!  

A few months ago, an olive oil vendor approached us about potentially switching our olive oil to the brand he was peddling.  We use extra virgin olive oil in several of our doughs including a super yummy Rosemary, Olive Oil & Sea Salt loaf.

 If you've never seen a "tote" of oil before, I don't know if you would believe it.  I could never have imagined a tote until I saw one with my own eyes.  We purchase our olive oil in totes which aren't quite as large as a city block but are 100's of times larger than the largest bottle you can purchase at the grocery store.  Our account could make for a decent payday if this particular vendor could land our business.

The oil samples arrived and my collegue, Michael and I were ordered, yes ordered, by our boss to taste them against our current oil to see if they're worth the effort involved in changing vendors.  There were 6-8 different samples in all.  We decided to pick our favorite of the newbies and then compare it to the reigning champ.  Neither of us are experts or even novices in the field of olive oil tasting.  We lined them up and started dipping baguette chunks into each puddle of oil.  I know if we were really serious about this tasting we would have tasted them straight up but we're not that serious and a baguette was as good a base as any.

Normally, I probably wouldn't notice subtleties in olive oil but when you taste several back to back, their differences or flavor notes are, well, notable.  Our observations included, woodsy, earthy, tangy, bitter and mild.  Our favorite oil had the clear flavor of olives with no subtle hints.  Subtle hints of flavor would not come through after the oil is mixed into the dough and the bread is baked.  We really need a strong olive flavor to burst out of the loaf.  When we tasted our pick against our current supply, we were delightfully surprised to find that ours was much better than any of the new oils being proposed.

For now, we'll stick with our current extra virgin olive oil supplier.  We had a great time learning and tasting all of our options.

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