A Novella on Novellos

by Leslie Uhl, CCP

A lone olive hangs precariously on the lovely bend of a tree branch, silhouetted in the tragic beauty of the setting of the Italian sun. What will become of her, shrouded in a supple, meaty skin and, at the peak of her life, so very like a damsel in much distress peaking out of her high-tower window pane? The worst, to drop and be discarded before the Good Harvest comes to ferry her away to better fortune, perhaps as a rustic tapenade, a simple bite of purity amongst scandalous antipasti, or a glorious chorus member in a symphony of vegetables and other delights on a bed of hand rolled pasta. Or perhaps, in the best scenario and also the most seemingly-macabre, she shall be pressed into essence, a charming component along with her neighbors of a gleaming bottle of something magical known as a Novello olive oil.

Aaand that, ladies and gentlemen, is about as long as I can pretend to have any sort of skill at what I call “fancy writing”—let’s go back to Comfortzonia, where I can blatantly disregard the rules of English and keep a thinly-veiled sheen of mischief on every little baby word I type! Huzzah! I’m exhausted.

Seriously, though, let’s talk OLIVE OIL for like, I dunno, A MINUTE. Why? Because it’s probably the coolest thing you have in your pantry right now and you don’t even know it. Or maybe you do, and like me, you drop ridiculous amounts of money on a bottle of your favorite EVOO to keep and hold and love and use every day, probably multiple times. OR maybe because it’s my favorite condiment ever, and who’s writing this blog post anyway? You, or ME?! It’s MEEEEEEEEE!

They call us the House of Cheese, and baby, they don’t lie. But we’ve got one of the most amazing, cultivated, curated, designed, and designated collections of olive oils I’ve ever seen. We are SO proud to say that there is not only a story behind each bottle, but a family, and a relationship that we’ve been a happy part of since opening in 1939. Yes, it took a long time to build our repertoire and we #cantstop #wontstop, but there’s a face behind every label that we’ve talked to, laughed with, learned from, and shared a hunk of bread with, to be sure. That’s so unbelievably cool, right? New slogan: It’s not just oil, it’s personal. Personoil? Yes.

Novello oils, if ya can believe it, are a class of cool all their own. Let’s start with basics—a lot of people compare olive oil to wine, which is a fair comparison when it comes to depth of flavor profile, varietals, terroir, and a huge industry dedicated to a single crop. However, wine needs to ferment, and there’s a process behind every batch that takes time and perfection and there’s just so much that can and will go wrong. There’s also a version of Novello wines, for example, which are to be drunk when they’re very young and if you DON’T drink them at just the right age, they spoil and there goes your $$$.

Novello oils are the product of the first pressed olives of the harvest. Again, unlike wine, olive oil consists only of the liquid extracted from the fruit, no fuss. Not all oils follow suit, but Novello oils are the epitome of pure, an unaltered sneak-peek at the season’s harvest, pressed, bottled, and left to evolve into whatever glory exists inside the life of a bottle of perfection. Consider it an ode to the land, because while it still takes skill and technique, time, and experience to make a great oil, the beauty of the taste of place found inside can really only be credited to country, soil, sun, wind, and this amazing 6,000 year old history of flora across the world. The olive tree was cultivated, used, and being written about before language was invented, for crying out loud. (Quick check: Am I getting carried away? Yep.)

So what are the best ways to use such precious oils? You’ve been asking for my tips (no you haven’t) and I’ll finally let you in (you can’t stop me) on my favorite ways to use our best Novello oils!

Carm EVOO

CARM Grande Escolha D.O.P. Olive Oil

Name-protected and one of several award-winning oils that hail from Portugal, this green, velvet beauty tastes like buttered, fresh-picked asparagus with a sprinkle of crushed green peppercorns.

  • Drizzle over a freshly made omelette, filled with spinach, sweet basil and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Swirl into homemade hummus with Greek yogurt, dried dill, garlic salt, and dried parsley
  • Grab some french bread and a slice of Brie, like Delice de Bourgogne, and a ripe tomato, top generously with oil, and eat every day for lunch for the rest of your life.
Weka Olive Oil

WEKA Leccino & Frantoio Blend Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil  (Find in Di Bruno Bros. retail stores)

A lovely blend of Italian varietals but made in the wild, breathtaking beauty of New Zealand. This is a certified New Zealand extra virgin olive oil with strong, grassy flavors and omg the bottle is sewwww pretty.

  • •  Pour gently atop tomato bisque and add a sprig of deep-fried rosemary
  • •  Buy the finest cut of beef you can afford, grill it with flaked sea salt and ground peppercorns and just a dash of cayenne pepper, and douse generously in oil
  • •  Pour into a small bowl, add chopped fresh herbs, smoked fleur de sel, and a tiny dash of white balsamic vinegar—stir vigorously and with passion, pour over bell peppers, fresh greens, bread cubes, smoked salmon, canned tuna, grilled chicken, or cardboard
  • •  Pour into a small bowl, dunk your face in, and drown in it.

Maybe not that last one, but the possibilities are limitless. I could go on all day about olive oils, but instead I’ll leave you with one final novella on the history of the olive:

In Greek mythology (she types, pushing imaginary pretentious glasses up her nose…) the origins of the olive are credited to the goddess Athena (Zeus’s daughter), who did NOT get along with Poseidon (Zeus’s bro). They were always trying to one-up each other, so the King of Greece made a little contest for them. He challenged them to show up in the region of Attica with a gift for one of his cities, and whoever brought the best present would become the patron god of that area. So Poseidon blows in with his big trident and he’s all like, “Check this out,”—and he creates this big ol’ sea that’s all frothy and salty and mighty. And the King is all, “That’s cool, but it’s kind of dangerous, and I’m watching my blood pressure…” So everyone turns to Athena, who (probably) curtsies and bats her eyelashes and gently reaches down to plant something on the hillside (called the Acropolis—ever heard of it?). Out comes a beautiful olive tree, and the people rejoice because it provides food and heat and perfume and all this good stuff. She’s declared the winner, and that city in Attica is now known as Athens! (Spoiler alert, Poseidon freaks out, Zeus has to step in, it’s cray.)

Here’s to the purity of the olive, the awesomeness of Novello oils, and Greek story-time!  Cheers.

Editor’s Note:

Stop by and check out these amazing Novello olive oils available in our retail stores:  Capezzana, Olio Verde Novella, and Frescobaldi Laudemio!

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