Olio nuovo e vino vecchio
Sit down at any Italian table and expect a heated conversation about the best olive oil bound. Tuscany, Lazio, Sicily, Puglia, we know it’s all about EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Everyone has their favourite region and their favourite varietals but there is nothing like olio nuovo from Liguria. (More to come on that).
There is an old saying “new oil and old wine”, meaning that fresh olive oil and aged wine are best, but what is olio nuovo? Olio nuovo, or “new oil”, is the first extra virgin olive oil off the press each season. It’s the very freshest possible extra virgin olive oil you can find. Purists will tell you that the best oil is from the moment immediately following harvest and pressing when the flavours and atoms are fully and intensely released.. Later in the season, February, March, April, olive oil matures, losing some tone and slightly changing color. In other words, it’s not quite freshly piccante.
“Olio nuovo is particularly fragrant, has a beautiful color and takes on a slightly greener hue because the olives at the beginning are not quite ripe and are still a little greenish, so the oil has still green trends. Normally the wait for new oil is precisely for this reason.” tells Marco Bonaldo of Galateo & Friends, a concept olive oil producer from Liguria who teamed up with ISSIMO for a tasty collaboration of olio nuovo.
The ISSIMO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive is nothing new to Bonaldo. He’s been producing olive oil for more than 30 years, but only launched Galateo & Friends two decades ago thanks to a bit of inspiration from Michelin chef Alain Ducasse. Bonaldo introduced Ducasse to his monocultivar oil and then the rest is, well, history.
Today Galateo & Friends collaborates with all of Ducasse’s 30 restaurants and outlets, as well as Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park in New York.
Bonaldo commands every detail from olives and harvest to production and graphic design. In fact, Galateo’s bottles are notably different from what you’d expect. Inspired by the latta (rectangular oil can), Bonaldo wanted to show something completely different and contemporary – a design that was almost too innovative for traditionalists.
A marvellous monocultivar extra virgin olive oil
Liguria’s tradition with taggiasca olives dates back to the early Middle Ages when the Benedictines monks brought the varietal to the western part of Liguria. The entire area of the Ponente up to the Savona area is planted only with taggiasca and nothing else. And there’s never been a need to introduce any other olive varietal, taggiasca olive oil is just that good.
“When you talk about Ligurian oil, you know perfectly well that we are talking about a single variety of olives, which is the Taggiasca. You already have a particular taste in your head,” explains Bonaldo.
According to Bonadlo, Liguria was one of the first regions in Italy to be recognised with DOP (PDO, protected designation). And in the case of Liguria’s Taggiasca olive oil, it is 100% Taggiasca olives. Having only one varietal has been an incredible advantage in Liguria because of its consistency in quality and taste.
“The harvest never changes, that is, the taste always remains the same, while in other regions when you make a selection of olives, a year is a little more aggressive, a year is a little sweeter, a year it is greener, one year it is more yellow, but for us the oil is that, the variety is that, the taste is that,” explains Bonaldo.
How to best enjoy
Bonaldo recommends raw dishes (like raw, cut vegetables) to truly enjoy the aroma and flavour. We love it with focaccia. He also favours risotto, boiled potatoes and fish because “our taggiasco olive is the perfect marriage with fish because it is quite delicate, and not particularly aggressive. Olio nuovo is a gentle, round oil that enhances the flavor without distorting taste.”