Learn About Taste Testing Olive Oil

gourmet olive oil florida

There is a fabulous trend in modern society toward an increasing awareness of what we eat, fuelled by an

abundance of new information about cooking and preparing food. One of the big revelations has been with

olive oil, which has been produced and enjoyed since ancient times, and should be a staple in every kitchen.

An exciting way to enhance your experience of this wonderful oil, is to learn how to taste it. Tasting olive oil

awakens the palate and instils a new discernment and appreciation of food.

We at Lovin’ Olive give you the opportunity to taste test our gourmet olive oils – and this is how you should do

it to get the most taste and enjoyment:

Traditionally, small blue glasses should be used for tasting, as even though the color of the oil does not affect

the taste it may often distract the taster. However, it is fine to use a small wineglass if blue glasses are not

available. To begin your tasting adventure, fill the glasses with about two tablespoons of oil.


Cup the glass with your hand, warming the oil to allow the aroma to be released, gently swirl it around, put

your nose to the glass and breathe in deeply. Your sense of smell will be aroused and you will begin to identify

the aroma or ‘nose’ of the oil. It may be of cinnamon, fresh cut grass, or like tropical fruit. These are all

described as ‘fruity’’.


Now take a good sip of the oil. As you sip, draw in some air at the same time, in a sort of slurping motion. This

helps to get more of the aroma out. Now swirl the oil gently around your mouth, allowing it to fully surround

your tongue. Notice the flavors in the different areas of your mouth. This is where you will taste bitterness.

Olives straight from the tree are very bitter and need to go through a curing process to remove this. Olive oil is

not cured and so there is a certain amount of bitterness which actually adds to the flavor and awakens the

taste buds.

Before swallowing, close your mouth and breathe out of your nose, this activates your retro nasal perception

and allows you to perceive more flavor notes. Obviously, you will not be able to verbalize anything with a

mouthful of olive oil so it is wise to jot down your observations and taste experiences at this point. A

reasonable amount of solemnity is advisable for this ritual and it is best not to make eye contact with anyone,

or get the giggles.


As you swallow the oil and it goes down your throat, you will experience the pungency. This is a peppery

feeling and may make you cough. This pungency is an acquired taste and once you get used to it the

experience is stimulating and addictive – like eating hot chilies.

When you are ready for the next tasting, clear your palate with a slice of granny smith apple, and still or

sparkling water. Once you have experienced your first tasting, you will have activated your taste buds, and

with more practice you will find it easier to describe the various tastes.

Become a Gourmet

The next step is to do tastings combining food with olive oil. Invite some friends around and experiment with

different oils and foods. Simply cook some vegetables like potatoes or broccoli without too much flavoring,

bring some fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese to the table, and add some delicious breads and sea salt.

Dip into olive oils and enjoy the fun of exploring your senses and become more discerning and perceptive in

your foodie adventures with family and friends.

The Secret Life of Balsamic Vinegar

balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has been exposed through the media lately as having a deceiving nature. Through this exposure we have discovered that there are many condiments that call themselves balsamic vinegar. The word Balsamic comes from the word balsam, which means restorative or curative. The process in which it is made is not the same as the process of making vinegar. Claiming there is only one kind of balsamic vinegar could be like saying there is only one kind of woman. As discerning consumers, it is up to us to check the credentials and background of the balsamic vinegar we choose to enjoy.

The original and true balsamic is made from white Trebbiana grapes pressed before they are fermented. This is called Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. The “must” produced from the pressed grapes is cooked and then stored in casks for many years. This long, slow, and expensive process produces a superb culinary condiment that has many useful qualities as well as delighting the palate. This balsamic vinegar has an intensity and smoothness that are revealed when combined with different foods, such as steak, eggs, and seafood. Like an exquisite mysterious woman, a touch of this balsamic vinegar reveals the hidden flavors of any meal. Drizzled over berries and fruit or ice cream, it creates a delectable taste experience. Look for the distinct bulb shaped bottle of 100ml in specialty shops if you want to delight your senses and improve your constitution.

The commercial grade balsamic vinegar takes two months to three years to mature and is more affordable. These vinegars are of a high quality and are more readily available. There are many different varieties and have excellent flavors. They have an indefinite shelf life, however, once you have tasted these condiments you will begin to experiment and discover their versatility. They are healthy, nutritional and playful. These balsamic vinegars add zest and freshness to food and promote healthier eating by enhancing and complimenting the flavors of meat, fish, vegetables and salads. These include white and dark balsamic vinegars in a variety of flavors.

There are also false balsamic vinegars which range from the delicious to the toxic. The trend has been to flavor vinegar with caramel and flavorings. We buy these and enjoy them for their pseudo flavor artificial, unhealthy and fleeting as it may be. They may tickle the taste buds, however the only value would be to encourage people to eat more salads. The discerning consumer would not consider this product. One who has tasted the richness of the true balsamic will instantly know the difference. Balsamic vinegar has a delectable, heavenly flavor. Used sparingly as it works well on any cuisine. It is your choice, don’t be fooled by clever packaging and snappy advertising. Ultimately it is your discerning palate, responsive taste buds and the soft contented glow that surrounds you after a meal that is the true test of an exceptional Balsamic Vinegar.

The Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil

The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are endless. The advantages range from reducing risk factors of illness to being an alternative to unhealthy fats and oil. Not only is extra virgin olive oil good for your health but it also tastes great on salads and other foods. There is no excuse not to have this Mediterranean secret in your home, especially the wide range of delicious extra virgin olive oils to choose from.

But, what makes extra virgin olive oil so incredible? Scientists have discovered that because the polyphenol content in olive oil is so extensive it functions as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory as well as provides essential nutrients to your body. If this isn’t enough to convince you that you need olive oil in your life here is a list of health benefits that are bound to get you excited!

Benefits of extra virgin olive oil:

  1. Olive oil is rich in antioxidant nutrients which helps to remedy the damaged hearts of cardiovascular patients. Furthermore, because olive oil is also rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients it actually works to lower the risk of heart disease overall.
  2. Just by adding one or two teaspoons of olive oil daily to your diet you will be providing your blood vessels with vitamin E and beta-carotene. This allows your vessels to remain strong, and strong blood vessels mean that your risk of heart disease will be reduced.
  3. Olive oil intake has been linked to decreased blood pressure and decreased cholesterol. This is because out of all the oils, extra virgin olive oil is made up mainly of monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid – one of the more important fatty acids you will come across.
  4. Believe it or not, but research has found that this is the number one weight reducing ingredient to have in your home. Replacing unhealthy butter and oils with extra virgin olive oil will actually work in combating weight gain.
  5. Consuming olive oil as part of a balanced diet can prevent or delay the risk of getting diabetes, as the nutrients in the oil help to balance your insulin levels.
  6. The antioxidants in olive oil help to strengthen your immune system. This will help your body to become resistant to infections and illnesses.
  7. Research has shown that olive oil intake can prevent the risk of cancer. Oxidative stress causes the initiation of cancer, but the polyphenols (that act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in your body), help to lower the oxidative stress and has thus been pegged as cancer preventative.
  8. Research has also shown that olive oil intake can increase the formation of bone structure.

If these few benefits are not convincing enough then rest assured knowing that researchers are still discovering new health benefits of olive oil. In fact a recent research study discovered that consuming a Mediterranean diet will greatly improve your brain function, but only if olive oil is added!

Extra virgin olive oil not only has health-promoting properties but it is also tasty, even when dieting. This is definitely one ingredient that should be on your shopping list. At Lovin’ Olive we guarantee a healthy and delicious range of extra virgin olive oil for you to choose from. Treat your taste buds and your health to an array of the finest olive oil around.

Oven Roasted Tomato Quiche with Extra Virgin Olive Oil Pastry Crust

Oven Roasted Tomatoes in UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tbs. 300+ Poly UP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

A sprig of fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 pound meaty, tomatoes containing less water, such as Roma Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Combine the UP extra virgin olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper in a shallow oven proof dish. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise, toss with the oil and seasonings, and place cut side down in the dish.

Bake for 2 1/2 hours, or until the tomatoes are completely soft and become wrinkled

Whole Wheat Extra Virgin Olive Oil Pastry Crust

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 cup fruity, mid-high poly (250-300+) UP extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and flaxseed meal. Add the olive oil and water and mix quickly with a fork until it comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured board or parchment-covered surface, roll out the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick round. Gently press into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick all over with the tines of a fork.

Bake crust in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool before filling.

Quiche Filling

7 large eggs, beaten

1 /12 cups oven roasted tomatoes, drained thoroughly

2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn or chopped

1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina

1/4 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 cloves garlic minced

Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

10″ Olive Oil Pastry Crust recipe above


Preheat the oven to 400. Saute the shallots until until lightly browned. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Combine the shallots, garlic, and basil with the beaten eggs. Season the egg mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle 1 cup of Fontina cheese over the bottom of the crust. Arrange the oven roasted tomatoes over the cheese. Add the remaining cheese, including Romano over the tomatoes. Pour the egg shallot mixture over the top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the filling is set, slightly puffed and golden brown. Enjoy warm, or allow to cool to room temperature. It can be made a day in advance or may be frozen and re-warmed.

Grilled Chipotle-Serrano Rib-Eye

1/2 Cup Honey-Serrano Vinegar

1/2 Cup Chipotle Olive Oil

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 cloves Garlic, Minced

fresh ground pepper to taste

4 – 8 to 10 oz. rib-eye steaks

Combine the salt, vinegar, garlic, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the the chipotle olive oil. Place the steaks in a Zip-lock bag or in a single layer in a non-reactive pan or container. Pour the marinade over and massage it in to the steaks. Cover and allow to marinate refrigerated, for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

Prepare a medium charcoal or gas grill, and cook to desired doneness. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Chicken Polpettine in Spicy-Garlic Tomato Sugo over Smoky Cannellini Beans with Escarole

This recipe came to me after I had already made a lovely pot of smoky Cannellini beans.  The beans alone could have served as a hearty if not somewhat boring meal, (or pasta e fagioli).  However, I am no longer allowed to make pasta e fagioli for my husband and kids.  The comforting dish which practically occupied its own tier of the food pyramid in my Italian family has been outlawed in my own household.

It would seem that I played that song one too many times for my captive audience.  On the last occasion I prepared pasta e fagioli, I believe my 12 year old said, “I would rather listen to Disney’s “it’s a small world”, relentlessly, rather than eat another bite!”  Point taken.

In an attempt to a least salvage the glorious beans which are the underpinning, I reworked the culinary equation to look like this:

pasta e fagioli  + escarole – pasta + chicken polpettine (meatballs) = approval!

And guess what?  The recipe got healthier in the process with the addition of lean protein, greens, tomatoes, and removal of the starch laden pasta.

Smoky Cannellini Beans with Escarole
1 pound dried Cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked overnight
5 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/4 cup high-phenol, Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf torn
2 heads of escarole, torn
2 smoked turkey wings or 1 tablespoon sweet or hot Spanish smoked paprika
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a heavy 8+ quart stock pot over medium heat saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the garlic and paprika (if using) saute for another minute.  Add the stock, turkey wings (if using), beans, and bay leaf.  Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender, add the escarole during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, make the polpettine…

Chicken Polpettine
2 pounds lean ground chicken or turkey
2 sliced of white or french bread
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup super fresh, high phenol Ultra Premium Olive Oil

Soak the bread in the milk.  In a large mixing bowl combine the ground poultry, onion, garlic, cumin, parsley, salt and pepper. Squeeze the soaked bread of excess milk and add to the bowl.  Mix the contents thoroughly and portion out 1″ diameter meatballs. (I like to use a small cookie dough scoop here)

Heat a large skillet over medium -high heat.  Brown the meatballs in batches until golden, and set aside.

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons  super fresh, high phenol Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Drain all but a small amount of the oil from the skillet used to brown the meatballs.  Place over medium heat and add fresh olive oil.  Add the garlic and chili flakes.  Saute for a minute being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits adhering to the bottom of the pan from the meatballs.  Reduce the liquid by half and then add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and reserved meat balls. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve this dish as pictured above. Ladle the beans on to a plate and top with a scoop of meatballs and sauce.

Makes 6 hearty portions

Slow Roasted Golden Beet & Tangerine Salad Over Baby Arugula with Blue Cheese & Olio Nuovo-Citrus Vinaigrette

The sweet earthiness of the golden beets, along with the salty blue cheese, nutty arugula, tangy tangerines, and pungent olio nuovo olive oil make this salad a virtual party in your mouth.  Beyond that, the impeccably fresh seasonal ingredients are visually arresting, and resemble a ray of golden sunshine on the plate.

4 cups baby arugula
3 medium sized golden beets
2  medium Satsuma Tangerines, 1 peeled and divided in to segments, the other juiced
1 Tablespoon Cara Cara Orange Cream White Balsamic
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Peppery Olio Nuovo Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup good quality, crumbled blue cheese
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup Tarragon Croutons (see recipe below) – or store bought croutons

Preheat the oven to 350.  Scrub the beets removing any debris, roots and green parts.  Place the beets on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to fully enclose the beets in to a package.  Drizzle the beets with a tablespoon of olio nuovo olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of water.  Seal the package by crimping the foil and roast the beets for 1 hour or until tender when pierced with a knife.  Allow to cool and then peel.  Cut the beets in to six wedges and set aside.

Just before serving, whisk the tangerine juice with the Cara-Cara Orange White Balsamic and a pinch of salt.   Slowly drizzle in the remaining olio nuovo while whisking constantly to make a vinaigrette.  In a large bowl, gently toss the arugula with 1/2 of the vinaigrette and then arrange on a plate or platter.  Arrange the tangerine segments, golden beet wedges, and blue cheese over the arugula.  Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the top, then add the croutons, and finish with fresh ground pepper if desired.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 generous salad portions

Tarragon Croutons

2 cups of fresh or day old sourdough bread cut in to 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup Organic Tarragon Olive Oil (or you can use any infused olive oil you desire)
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.  On a baking sheet large enough to hold the bread cubes in a single layer, toss the bread cubes with the infused olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper if desired. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the bread cubes are golden brown.  Cool and store in a zip lock bag or air tight container.

Makes 2 cups

Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Wild Mushrooms Over Pappardelle Sauced With A Creamy Bacon-Thyme-Balsamic Reduction

That’s quite a title, no?  You could just shorten the name of this dish to “Nom-Nom!”.  Other descriptors include, easy, elegant, comforting, and delicious.


1 1/2 pounds free-range, boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast tenders.

4 thick strips smoked bacon, diced

1 large sweet onion sliced thin

8 oz. assorted wild mushrooms, sliced (cremini mushrooms will work in a pinch)

4″ piece of fresh thyme, stem discarded

1/4 cup Traditional Style Balsamic Condimento or Juniper Berry Balsamic Condimento

2 tablespoons of fruity-floral Extra Virgin Olive Oil such as Hojiblanca, Picual, or Koroneiki or Wild Mushroom-Sage infused olive oil

1/2 cup heavy cream

sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

1 pound pappardelle pasta or wide egg noodle pasta, cooked and drained


In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, brown the diced bacon to a crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Pour off all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat.  Season the chicken on both sides liberally with salt and pepper  Add the olive oil to the pan, place it back over the heat, and allow it to heat for a minute over medium-high heat.

Saute the chicken for a few minutes until golden brown on both sides, in batches if necessary.  Do not over-crowd the pan.  Remove the chicken to a plate and reserve.

Add the onions to the drippings in the pan.  Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become a soft golden brown.  Add the mushrooms.  Saute for approximately three more minutes over medium high heat until the mushrooms are browned and slightly caramelized.

Add the fresh thyme leaves and balsamic to the mushrooms and onions, de-glazing the pan by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.  Cook to reduce for a minute.  Add the cream and stir to combine.  Add the bacon and reserved chicken.  Allow the pan to come to a simmer.  Cook for another two minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens.  Season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve over pasta, rice, or cooked whole grains.

Pan Roasted Roman Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic, Red Pepper & Pecorino Over Handmade Pappardelle

Even without the “wow factor” of making your own fresh pasta, this simple, visually interesting dish has plenty of “wow” factor to go the flavor mile.

Choosing the right extra virgin olive oil to use in this dish was crucial with so few ingredients involved.  The simple yet luxuriant sauce relies heavily on the olive oil used.

For this application, I went with Ultra Premium A.L. Arbequina IOO346.  It had the right herbaceous apple-peel notes and just enough pepper which juxtaposed perfectly with the earthy-nuttiness of the roasted cauliflower,  sweet caramelized garlic, and savory saltiness of the Pecorino cheese.  The taste testers (my family) which included two young kids, declared love at first bite!  Everyone exclaimed that it was absolutely amazing!  So I declared this meatless dish a healthy, easy weeknight meal if you use dried pasta or a dish to serve for a special occasion if you choose to make your own fresh pasta.

Pan Roasted Roman Cauliflower with Caramelized Garlic & Pecorino over Pappardelle

1 large head of Green Roman Cauliflower florets only (regular cauliflower can be substituted)

8 medium cloves of garlic (sliced thin)

1/2 cup Arbequina IOO346

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup good quality fresh grated Pecorino cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

If using, make the homemade pasta an hour in advance of proceeding with the rest of the recipe.  If using dried pasta, boil the pasta in the water that was used to blanch the cauliflower.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In a large saute pan, heat the Arbequina over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until light golden brown (be very careful not to burn the garlic) Blanch the cauliflower florets for 2 minutes.  Remove, drain, and add to the saute pan with the garlic along with the red chili flakes.

Meanwhile, boil the fresh pasta for two minutes in the same water used to blanch the cauliflower.

Saute the cauliflower, garlic and chili flakes for a few more minutes over medium-high heat until the cauliflower begins to get toasty golden brown around the edges.  Add one cup of pasta water, the Pecorino, and cream to the pan with the cauliflower and garlic.  Simmer for a minute until slightly thickened, and add a few grinds of fresh ground pepper.  Add the well drained pappardelle to the pan and toss to coat the pasta and distribute the cauliflower florets.  Adjust seasoning with salt to taste.  Add more cheese to serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

Homemade Pappardelle

1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina flour

3 large, fresh eggs

1 tablespoon Arbequina IOO346

a pinch of sea salt

Pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor, add the eggs and pulse until a ball forms.  Knead for about a minute until the ball becomes smooth. wrap in plastic or cover with a bowl and allow to the dough to relax  for an hour. divide the dough dish into 8 equal pieces and run them through your pasta machine through setting #6.  Cut the sheets in to pappardelle sized noodles and arrange on racks or dust with flour to prevent sticking.

Confit of Tomatoes, Peppers, & Sweet Red Onions


1 1/2 pounds small whole sweet tomatoes such as cherry or grape

1 large red onion, sliced thin

1 red bell pepper or several smaller sweet red peppers such as Marconi, sliced thin or halved if smaller

8 large garlic cloves

1 – 2″ sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, stem discarded (optional)

1/2 cup fresh, herbaceous-green 300+ poly EVOO such as Leccino IOO302, or IOO301 Frantoio

1/3 cup crisp, good quality white wine

1 tablespoon Traditional Balsamic Condimento

2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste


Adjust rack to middle of oven, and preheat to 300.

In a medium roasting pan (9″x13″) or a 12″ oven safe skillet, combine the first five ingredients.  Whisk the wine, balsamic, and olive oil together, drizzle over the vegetables and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven, uncovered, and allow the vegetables to cook slowly, stirring only a few times during the process, being careful not to break the tomatoes.  Slow roast for 4 – 4 1/2 hours.

The resulting confit, or tomato “jam” can be used to dress pasta, slather on crusty bread, or as an accompaniment to slow roasted meats or poultry.