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Full Moon Olive Oil Tasting

500 ml bottle of Full Moon olive oil

This week the demonstration kitchen in the back of Pimenton (681 Mount Pleasant Rd.) was filled by more than a dozen food writers and other assorted gourmands.  We were gathered to taste the olive oil offered by The Olivar Corp.  Even with the tasting mat for notes and Dolores Smith’s professional guidance  it still seems a little odd to do shots of olive oil straight up.  (Not to worry, Dolores, I wasn’t actually shooting the oil; I swirled and tasted as directed.)

Prepared sheet for tasting notes

The first oil we tasted, Full Moon, is the newest addition to Olivar’s stable and was the night’s main event.  “What does everyone think of this olive oil?”  Our trained safari guide (sans pith helmet) asked the group.

My inner food nerd ventured, “I’m reminded of a tomato patch in July.” Yeah, not to worry, after this outburst of pretense I did my best to keep my mouth shut for the rest of the tasting.  But it really is what I perceived and the lists of descriptions from the “professional tasters” usually led off with “green tomatoes” or “green tomatoes and their vines”.  This was a new angle for me as far as olive oil is concerned.  Sampling the oil on its own helps the unique characteristics stand out and facilitates the comparison to other oils.

I noticed for the first time the “peppery finish” of really good olive oils.  It happens at the back of the throat and the very back of the tongue and is more a sensation than a true taste.  I wonder if this results from the chemical that is removed from olives by curing them?

The Full Moon had almost no peppery finish compared to the more robust Oro San Carlos, Dauro, Ame, and Rincon offerings.  I noted green tomatoes in all four but found this augmented by an herbal note (oregano in particular) in the Oro San Carlos; watermelon rind and corn silk in the Dauro; a subtle reminder of black tea in the Ame’s slight bitterness; and a floral scent from the Rincon.

Taken on its own the subtle, smooth, and refined Full Moon was my favourite of the tasting with the Rincon running a close second.

Mussels with Celery, Green Apple and Roasted Apple Gasull Alioli

If shooting olive oil from plastic cups takes some getting used to, eating the tapas prepared by chef Lola Csullog-Fernandez of Pimenton with it definitely did not.   I followed Greg Bolton’s (from Pantry TO) lead in commending the cold mussel appetisers.  The cool flavours of celery and apple along with the rich Gasull alioli  really highlighted the mussels.  Greg is going to start carrying both the Full Moon and the Oro San Carlos at Pantry.

Deep Fried Pimenton Chickpeas

As a sucker for most things deep-fried I couldn’t stay away from the Salchichon Iberico Popcorn Croquetas or the Deep Fried Pimenton Chickpeas.  Both strong reminders that, yes, olive oil can be used for deep-frying.

Chorizo version in the rear and straight Salchichon Iberico in the front

A heated debate broke out over the group’s preference between the charcuteria offerings.  The avowed meat-heads preferred the straight Iberico Salchichon while others backed the Chorizo Iberico.  I waffled back and forth: the straight-up is meatier by the pepper in the chorizo creates more contrast and interest.

With such a packed house of hungry tasters there were bound to be a variety of opinion.  Here are insights and great photos from:

Just as a really good aged balsamic should be a pantry staple a few drops of a special olive oil can play a similar, welcome role.

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  1. Andrea says:

    Thanks, David.
    I also noted green tomato in all. Full moon was the mildest. “watermelon rind and corn silk”? Interesting.

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for commenting, Andrea. Really like your very thorough post about the tasting.

    By watermelon rind I meant that flavour you get from going one bite too far towards white part in a watermelon. Both that and corn silk are very summery flavours for me so maybe that was the experience I was reminded of and tried to capture with that note.

  3. Dolores Smit says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful notes on the oils presented at Pimenton that I import from Spain.

    Just a quick tidbit re the sensation that is experienced at different intensities when tasting good extra virgin olive oil…what is referred to as “pepper”.

    This sensation is due to naturally-ocurring antioxidants (various types of polypenols) in the oil that slightly irritate the membranes in the back of our throats upon swallowing the oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a “natural fruit juice”…oil pressed from fruit that is not pre-treated prior to pressing. The higher the quality the better preserved are the various minor components – alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E, many different types of polyphenols, squalene, etc.)

    The antioxidants exist naturally in olives to protect the fruit from oxidation and the sun. These compounds transfer to the oil given that the elaboration of olive oil is a natural, mechanical process for good quality extra virgin olive oils: cultivate good quality fruit, pick it quickly at peak ripeness, press immediately with good machinery that is spotlessly clean, and store the oil well to maintain its various compounds and therefore flavour.

    Only table olives are cured.

    There are 3 types of intensities in extra virgin olive oil: delicate, medium and intense. Oils that are well balanced will have the appropriate level of pepper based on the intensity of flavour…delicate intensity are balanced if they have a delicate pepper…medium will have more…intense (more robust) oils should have more intense pepper at the finish.

    Only poor quality olive oil that is deemed unfit for human consumption due to too many taste defects and very high broken down fatty acids (high acidity levels) are chemically refined to strip them from the faults and faulty fatty acids…also stripping taste and eliminating all the health-inducing minor components as well. This is sold as “light” olive oil. Only this oil and pumice oil (second pressing of the paste left over from first-pressed olives) are refined/manipulated chemically. Dolores Smith

  4. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for commenting, Dolores.

    I guess my comment about the “peppery finish” was a bit unclear. I meant that I had never noticed this aspect with table olives and wondered if the difference was because table olives are cured while those used for extra-virgin olive oil are not. It looks from your comment and the quick reading I’ve done this morning that my suspicion was correct. The chemical (naturally occurring in this case) that I was referring to are the phenolic compounds that are removed from table olives during the curing process.

  5. Neil says:

    Great post and pics. “Food nerd outburst” or not, you were definitely right in your assessment of the Full Moon. To me, tasting that one was like biting into a green tomato. Definitely not a bad thing, but unexpected.

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