If you’ve ever been in Italy in the late fall and early winter, you know how amazing the perfume of really fresh olive oil can be -- artichokes, green beans, call me crazy but I get something deeply floral, like roses and, oh yes, olives. The problem is, fresh oil doesn’t last very long and it rarely seems to ship well. All of those vibrant grassy aromas and flavors mellow into something that’s quite delicious, but nutty rather than vegetal.
But I’ve just found the first California oil so far that delivers that remarkable olio nuovo pungency. It’s the California Olive Ranch’s “Limited Reserve” -- this one from the 2012 harvest just completed. Even better, while imported fresh olive oils -- if you can find them -- can cost the Earth, this is available for a very reasonable $17.97 for a 500-milliliter bottle.
This is a special oil, not something for everyday cooking. Use it as a finishing oil for cold cooked vegetables, or to moisten bread you’ve toasted over the fire.