The question about stuff floating in olive oil made me wonder: where do you buy your olive oil? What brands do you use and for what? (It seems to me that you would use different oils for baking, sautéing and finishing.) What readily available brands (i.e., you can buy them in the grocery store) are high quality and what should you stay away from? And @pierino, you mentioned that you thought it was a mistake to buy olive oil at Trader Joe's--and their selection is confusing--why do you think it's all inferior quality?

  • Posted by: drbabs
  • February 16, 2011


AntoniaJames February 16, 2011
I use the California Estate Extra Virgin (an arbequino) for cooking (when not using ghee or grapeseed oil . . . but that's another topic.) My sons really like Spanish olive oils, because they lived in Spain and like that round, mellow flavor. For dipping or dressings, I like McEvoy and Stonehouse. There's a very small ranch up on the American River, between the kayaking put-in at Sutter's Mill and the place where I get stone fruit up on the hill on one of the roads to Placerville, that has amazing olive oil, but I don't think they ship retail, and I've never seen their stuff in any store. (I think they sell primarily to Bay Area and other NoCal restaurants.) Since coming to CA 25+ years ago, I've bought almost exclusively CA oils, and the excellent local ones are just as tasty as the one my host family in Florence had delivered from a farm about 30 away. ;o)
RobertaJ February 16, 2011
For cooking I use Star extra virgin, which I can get in the local super-megaMarts for around $25 for a 3 liter can. I, too, love Trader Joe's olive oils. I especially like the Martini's Greek Kalamata extra virgin, and their house branded Sicilian and California Estate extra virgins. They're my go-to's for salad dressings. If I need or want drizzling, finishing or dipping oils, then I get a high quality one from a specialty store.
cookinginvictoria February 16, 2011
It's great to see what olive oils everyone likes.

When I used to live in NYC, I used to buy Trader Joe's and the 365 Whole Foods olive oils for everyday use, and I was pretty pleased with both products. Fairway also used to sell a very good everyday oil.

Now I live in Canada, and my everyday olive oil is usually bought at the supermarket. Colavita is decent as is the Safeway Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil (gasp!). But I also like buying a premium olive oil at a specialty foods store for drizzling and finishing dishes. The two I have on hand now are quite wonderful: An Affiorato oil from Italy and a Kastamonitsa oil from Crete, Greece, grown by a local chef's family.
latoscana February 16, 2011
It looks like there a bunch of fans Central Market olive oil here - and, no doubt, fans of Central Market itself. For those of you not living in a Texas city served by Central Market, you have my sympathy. They have now launched a line of olive oils that are single-sourced, like wine from a specific vineyard, as well as flavored oils. I guess these are the trends on the horizon.
healthierkitchen February 16, 2011
In contrast to Pierino, I have been very happy with a Trader Joe's olive oil for everyday use - the Spanish one made with holiblanca, picqual and arbequina olives. The taste and quality are just fine for cooking.I also like Zoe, which is another Spanish oil. For better quality I love California's Robbins Family Farm Ascolano which I discovered after tasting many oils from many countries - it's available from them by mail order.

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Robin O. February 16, 2011
Despite my food pickle from yesterday, I am very pleased with my Trader Joe's President's Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It has good flavor at an excellent value. I use it for everything. By the way, no spots today and I am still alive!
ChefDaddy February 16, 2011
I just had to ask in hopes of getting a great "pierino" response! Perfect!
hardlikearmour February 16, 2011
I typically use the Costco stuff for cooking, and haven't settled on a favorite for dipping, etc... New Seasons Market (a Portland, OR chain) is having olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings this coming week, and I'm planning on checking it out. I'll report back if I remember.
pierino February 16, 2011
ChefDaddy we don't watch Rachael Ray. But unfortunately, like Sarah Palin, she's in your face all the time. Her first show was the initial blast of shock and awe that changed Food Network forever. I see she now has her own EVOO endorsed brand. If it's anywhere near as crappy as her "knives" with the cute orange handles I'm sure it's going to taste something like WD40.
ChefDaddy February 16, 2011
Variety is the spice of life as they say and that is why I use many different labels and contantly seek out high quality olive oil. Which is kinda of funny being that the olive oil my great grandmother used was in a can. Although I have to say that I am a little impressed with the gallon of Kirkland Organic "EVOO" that my wife brought home from Costco. I just assumed I would not ever try it but I did and it was better than some of the more expensive labels I have.

Why is pierino watching Rachel Ray?
Bevi February 16, 2011
The Kirkland Signature olive oil that is coming out is amazing. For special occasions
I like to use Stonehouse Olive Oil. Some of the flavors are delicious. Just for an experience, my trip to Eataly to see all of the regional oils of Italy was lots of fun.
pierino February 16, 2011
For everyday use, for things such as sauteeing or browning meats for braises, I prefer to use lighter Spanish oils such as Columela or Pons. But living in an olive producing region I'm a big advocate for California olive oils such as Pasolivo (available through Zingerman's), McEvoy and California Olive Ranch in Gilroy. The latter produces two I really like; their arbequina and their Miller's Blend.
With some of the smaller lables the flavor can be wildly inconsistent from year to year.
Some years ago, a good Italian friend who lives in Assisi took me to a frantoio out in the hills of Umbria. A very small operation where locals took their olives to be pressed. The olive smell was overwhelming and wonderful. Big stone wheels pressing olives. Good olive oils are as complex as any wine. Could be grassy, bitter, peppery and umami all in one taste.
I've never been a big fan of Trader Joe's. If you care about price, it's a good place to go and occasionally there is something there I like. They now have the purchasing clout to buy large quantities from oversea's producers. I've just never tasted an olive oil from TJ that I've liked.
And a curse upon Rachael Ray for the coinage "EVOO, that means extra virgin olive oil"----she had to explain it every time she used it. Huh?
davidpdx February 16, 2011
I found Davinci to be a decent supermarket olive oil for cooking, and it is reasonably priced. Where flavor counts, we almost always use Frantoia, available at some specialty stores and online at not-outrageous prices. While living in Manhattan briefly, we would buy the house brand oils from Agata and Valentina, which we found enjoyable.
Sadassa_Ulna February 16, 2011
Typically I like to keep a bottle of fancy dipping oil on hand, but I can't remember the specific brands I've had in the past. In addition we usually keep a bottle of supermarket-grade extra virgin for baking/sauteing. However, we have made major "budget cuts" in our house over the past year (I was laid off in October) and this Fall I purchased a very large three liter tin of "Rosa" brand extra virgin because it was on sale for $10 at the grocery store - a pre-Thanksgiving promotional thing. I figured if it wasn't tasty enough for dipping then I would use it as my cooking oil. My husband has been decanting it into a smaller bottle for easier handling, and I have to say I find it very tasty as a dipping oil. So for now my bargain oil is performing double duty, and doing it beautifully! I just did a little poking around and found this:
nannydeb February 16, 2011
They even sell the Texas Olive Ranch olive oil at the grocery store now (and it's a bit cheaper than Central Market). Good stuff.
aargersi February 16, 2011
My cooking oil is the Central Market store brand, and for fancy I usually select from there too but I also order from Oliviers & Co (their green lemon is out of this world) and whenever a cool oil is featured in the shop here I find it irresitable (in winter - can't get oil shipped here in summer - too hot!). Hey if you come down and we get together in April maybe we could go look at oils? OH and there is also a nice local oil available at the Farmer's Market and at CM as well - Texas Olive Ranch
testkitchenette February 16, 2011
I buy my everyday e.v. olive oil at Costco (Filippo Berrio) and my more special bottles when they catch my eye. I cook and bake with the Filippo Berrio oil and dress salads with some lovely oil my mom and sister brought back from Italy at the moment. Sometimes I get freshly decanted Italian olive oil from a small Italian specialty store in my hometown also.
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