Filippo Berio recently sent me through a selection of Extra Virgin Olive Oils to try out from their just launched premium Gran Cru range. Filippo Berio explain that each of the three regional oils boasts its own unique and delicious characteristics and can transform a simple recipe into an exquisite dish, adding flair, flavour and Italian authenticity.
Like fine wine, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a product of soil, climate and olive variety, evaluated using careful tasting and quality control. As a result, throughout Italy, there is a marked difference between the flavour and character of each region’s signature olive oils. Filippo Berio have selected three Gran Cru oils - Dauno, Monti Iblei and Toscano.
Filippo Berio Gran Cru Dauno – The official blurb says : "Produced in Puglia, in the heel of Italy's boot, and made exclusively from Ogliarola and Coratina olives, this golden green coloured Extra Virgin olive oil is tangy, aromatic and intense. It is best suited to enhancing strong flavours such as game, bitter herbs, artichokes and turnips. It also goes well with vegetable soups and barbecued meat and fish." This is the one that I have been using the least at the moment, because summer cooking involves lots of light meals and salads, although I did use it in a spicy marinade for steak before putting it on the barbecue which was lovely. I can see this coming into its own when the richer flavours of autumnal comfort food hit the dinner table and I'll definitely be using it in meaty slow cooker casseroles.
Filippo Berio Gran Cru Monti Iblei – "Produced in the Monti Iblei area of Sicily and made using Tonda Iblea olives, this Extra Virgin olive oil has an intense aroma, reminiscent of tomato leaves. It has a full-bodied, intense flavour and is excellent with salads, fish and shellfish. Perfect with white meat and boiled or grilled vegetables, it is also spectacular on fresh Pecorino and salted Ricotta." This is a lovely summery oil, perfect for drizzling over Mediterranean vegetables (red and green peppers, onions and aubergines) before putting them under the grill or using in salad dressings.
Filippo Berio Gran Cru Toscano – "Produced in Tuscany from Frantoio, Pendolino and Leccino olives, this delicate green Extra Virgin olive oil has a strong aroma and a well-balanced flavour; a ripe, sweet and fruity taste with a peppery finish. The mainstay of many traditional Tuscan recipes, it is excellent with fish, soups, vegetables and fresh salads. Perfect for pasta, pulses and barbecued meat too." This one looks very delicate visually but is certainly not lacking in flavour. I've used this to toss mixed salads and cold pasta salad, as well as drizzling it over a homemade cherry tomato and olive tart, which were all delicious.
I've been using olive oil for years - in fact, it's pretty much the only oil we buy now at The Madhouse - but I had no idea that there were so many regional differences. If you're a keen globe-cooker or you're looking for a special gift for a foodie friend, the Gran Cru range is a great way of discovering the varieties of olive oil that Italy has to offer.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £10 each (500ml)
available now at Tesco, Ocado and Filippo Berio’s online boutique: http://www.filippoberio.co.uk/shop/
for more information : grancruoliveoil.co.uk
Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.
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