Describe 'Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oils ' here

The Iberian Peninsula has always had Olive Oil, stated Basque Chef and Mentor Luis Irizar, the founding father of today´s Basque cuisine. However, over the last fifty years, our understanding and knowledge of it has been revolutionised.

Irizar told me that this quiet revolution he has observed follows as such, " For much of the past century, Extra Virgin Olive Oils were a rustic product, often made without any sense of the numerous varieties utilised. Irizar continued, while speaking of the post war ( W.W.II ) rationing and the limited quantitites of uniform oil, often refined. Then came tourism and the discovery that Extra Virgin Olive Oil was not only healthy, however, a valuable crop.   

The growers invested their time, effort and profits into producing good oils and had begun discovering regions and varieties. Now we have a world class product and we are learning not to take it for granted.

Spain´s awareness of the value of its olive groves had arrived late, however, it has been growing rapidly. Ranging from deep olive black green to light gold in color, Spanish oils are distinguished.

The Chefs ...

The core point, says Master Irizar is how to delineate the flavors of a dish rather than take away from them. We need to ask ourselves, which oil goes with which ingredient and what oils function with what dish. I had asked a broad spectrum of Chefs, for their views and their ideas on native varietal oils and here are their replies.

1) Irizar:  Even for traditional Basque cuisine, one needs three or four extra virgin olive oils on hand for various uses. For example, I would use a heat resistant Picual or Empeltre for sautéing baby squid however for salt cod Pil Pil, you need an olive oil like hojiblanca that emulsifies well and has plenty of flavour and color.

For delicate mushrooms or Carpacchios, I recommend Arbequina and for Braised Game, Empeltre and Picual and Cornicabra for desserts.

When it comes to a green salad, it is very much subjective, and a matter of taste.

2) Ferrán Adriá:  He totally agrees with Irizar. When Ferrán began saucing his dishes with vinaigrettes in the 1980s, olive oil was rarely given a thought. However, I have experimented with curdled oils, frozen oils, and numerous Spanish varieties. I prefer gentle Extra Virgin oils from Catalonia -- however, it depends if you are using a spoonful or a drop.

3) Guggenheim Museum Chef Josean Martínez:  Mixing butter and southern olive oil for roasting however, he told me that he prefers sweet Extra Virgin olive oils, sweet enough to sip yet peppery like Arbequeña for fish and salads and slightly sweet for root vegetables and fish.

4)  Andoni, Luis:  I do not have an olive oil culture, and I have been to various taste testings. The subleties are so delicate, I have alot to learn yet. I sauté shellfish in Arbequina and the bitter vegetables because they seem to pair perfectly. I am working on southern oils that tend to be more peppery.

5) Albert Adriá:  For sweet things, Arbequina. In 2004, I had begun using frozen olive oil for icecream and sorbet. I have made my own Oregano Extra Virgin to serve with white cheese and rasberries or Frozen olive oil for Lemon sorbet with basil or Oranges and Yogurt with Caramel.

6) Pedro Subijana:  Had come up with Olive Oil Pearls, olive oil emulsified with agar agar and which he employs as a emulsifier with seabass. So far, it works with Picual and Arbequina.

7) Extra Virgin Olive Oil Icecream, first successful by Martín Berastategui in the turn of the century XX to XXI .  

Oil  Futures ...

Irizar continued to reveal that it is fundamental to understand and taste test olive oils early on in the culinary training process. It is like wines, fundamental.

Wines and Olive Oil Pairing With Chef Joan Roca and Sommelier Josep Roca ...

The Roca Brothers had begun analyzing the notes of wine with flavors of olive oils to become clear since there is certainly a more serious approach to pairing oils. Joan cited a series of dishes, while Josep has linked the wines. Picual for example with milk fed baby lamb ... contrasts well with the mild garlic emulsion we serve with the lamb. For this, Josep had suggested a barrel matured red with tannins and glycerin, such as Ribera del Duero, meaty yet silky to compensate for the peppery extra strength virgin olive oil ... Then we moved on to talk about, cod fish and Hojiblanca ... a structured white garnacha grape variety chilled, is subtle and a fino´s ( sherry ) could work well too providing a satin yet light bitterness to the subtle cod. The following alchemical experiment was Bergamot and Clams with Arbequina and Verdejo grape Rueda chilled white with a mineral finish ... A floral note Albariño and a fruit emulsion, work wonders on the palate ...

Aromatizing oils are a  world to themselves and another article indeed.