Artisan Olive Oil Company wins another 4 great taste stars

Our 2021 Great Taste Award Winners

After a particularly challenging period, we are delighted to announce that we have received 6 Great Taste stars in the 2021 edition of the prestigious competition organised by the Guild of Fine Foods. 

Here are our 6 winners 

Oro Bailen Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Andalusia, Spain)

Here are some of the judges comments: "well balanced and great tasting oil"

Oro Bailen Hojiblanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Andalusia, Spain)

A Great Taste judge wound it "pleasingly aromatic oil, versatile in its balance"

 

Moulins Mahjoub organic sun-dried tomatoes (Tebourba, Tunisia)

Moulins Mahjoub organic sun-dried tomatoes win Great Taste Star 2021

Here are the thoughts of the judges: "These tomatoes had a very delicate texture and we enjoyed the wafer-thin nature of it. The flat shape is really interesting and could even be used to hold other snacks for creative canapes. There is nothing to interfere with the pure tomato flavour, which has a lovely sweetness. Very tasty"

Moulins Mahjoub organic traditional harissa (Tebourba, Tunisia)

Moulins Mahjoun organic traditional harissa wins Great Taste Star 2021

Here are some of the observations of the Great Taste panel : "This harissa builds in taste and pungency.. The olive oil gives texture and pleasing aroma, with the sun dried peppers offering a flavour which is full and giving a real warmth and depth, which enhances the heat with a delightful overall experience. Every element seems balanced and gives the product its potency."

 

Due Vittore Oro Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP (Modena, Italy)

Oro has become one of our best-sellers over the last year. Here is what the judges said about it: "This lovely glossy vinegar had a very smooth consistency on the palate. It was very sweet and we could taste the intensity of the grapes as well as the acidity from the vinegar, and found this to be well balanced."

Due Vittorie Apple Vinegar wins Great Taste award 2021

Due Vittorie apple vinegar (Modena, Italy)

This is one our favourite products. We are glad that Great Taste shared our feeling saying "Really tasty and rich apple cider vinegar. Rounded in profile, possibly from the oak ageing, with a long finish. Good levels of sweetness and acidity counterpoint one another. Fruit forward and memorable."

Due Vittorie Apple Vinegar wins Great Taste Awards 2021
September 22, 2021 — Admin account
Onaoo olive oil tasting school

How to taste extra virgin olive oil ?

Besides the chemical analysis, a key quality control procedure for olive oils is the tasting also referred to as the sensory or organoleptic analysis. At its most basic level, it divides olive oils into 3 broad categories lampante oil, virgin and extra virgin olive oil as defined by EU regulation and the international Olive Council. Tastings are carried by groups of 10-15 trained tasters who evaluate an oil based on a grid of criteria aimed at identifying the defects and the positive  attributes.
The tasting is carried out in coloured glass (frequently blue) to avoid any bias in the evaluation. The container is warmed in the taster hands for a few minutes whilst covering it to release the aromas. The first stage consists in the smelling of the extra virgin olive oil. The second stage can be referred as slurping and is intended as spreading the olive oil in the mouth in order to identify its profile and flavours. 
Olive oil tasting at ONAOO
If an oil presents a median of defects greater than zero, it fails the official classification as an extra virgin olive oil and is either classified as virgin or lampante oil. 
Negative attributes such as a fusty, musty, humid or rancid oils are frequently an indicator of errors in the production, extraction and storage of olive oils.
Positive attributes are analysed to criteria such as the fruitiness (light, medium intense green or ripe), bitterness (it being a quality sign for olive oil) and pungency.
 
Definitions
  • Fruity: smells of fresh olive fruit, which can be green or ripe and of different intensities
  • Bitter: taste of green olives or olives changing colour, perceived in the V zone of the tongue
  • Pungent: typical sensation from olives harvested early, can be felt throughout the mouth.
Tasting provides the basis for a classification of olives oils which can be used for food pairing. Premium olive oils display significantly higher scores than common extra virgin olive oils, reflecting their particular production and storage processes. International competitions and awards use similar tastings to rank extra virgin olive oils to differentiate between average, good and exceptional olive oils. A long track record of international awards demonstrates the ability of an artisan to consistently produce excellent oil with a similar sensory profile is a key criteria in selecting our artisans.
A number of organisations provide tasting classes to increase your knowledge of premium olive oils. In the UK, Judy Ridgway, one of the most respected olive oil experts provides regular tasting classes in London and Brighton. We have listed below a number of organisations providing tasting courses in Spain by Evcata Spain, in Italy by ONAOO, and in the US by the Olive Oil School of Olive Oil Times.
September 20, 2021 — Admin account
Best book on olive oils, see the recommendation of the artisan olive oil company

The best books on extra virgin olive oil

Given the vast number of brands, farms and producers available to the British consumers, we have selected 3 of our favourite books about the world of extra virgin olive oil. 

The first one is Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller, an American journalist who lives in Liguria and a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and National Geographic and who has done extensive research about the production and marketing of olive oil. A truly fascinating book. Here is a review by the Guardian.  

Extra Virginity book by Tom Muller
The second is the Olive Oil Diet: Nutritional Secrets of the Original Superfood by Dr Simon Poole and Judy Ridgway. Written by two of the most respected olive oil specialists in the UK, the book analyses the impact of diverse olive oil varieties, farming and production methods on health benefits and flavour profile, with many delicious recipes. 
Olive Oil Diet by Dr Simon Poole and Judy Ridgway
The last one is the Flos Olei guide by Marco Oreggia. Published every year with a review of over 700 extra virgin olive oils from over 50 countries. The guide is a gold mine to discover new olive oils, learn more about olive oil farms, varieties and food pairing suggestions. 
August 18, 2021 — Admin account
Due Vittorie Dolceto white condiment with balsamic vinegar

New product launch: Due Vittorie Dolceto White Condiment with balsamic vinegar

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new product from our partner Due Vittorie from Modena: Dolceto white condiment with balsamic vinegar

Dolceto is produced from a blend of aromatic and sweet grape must and fine Italian wine vinegar. With a density of 1.2 and a low acidity, it is best used with fresh salads, steamed vegetables, delicate fish, berries and fruit salads. Its taste is well-balanced, fresh and sweet. 

It comes in the round 250ml glass bottle.

Buy it here

Due Vittorie Dolceto White Condiment with Balsamic Vinegar

July 03, 2021 — Admin account
The ultimate buyers' guide: 10 picnic essentials

The ultimate buyers' guide: 10 picnic essentials

With the good weather and warmer temperatures firmly in place, now is the time to enjoy many picnics. Here is out take out on

10 delicious Mediterranean fine foods and ingredients to take with you with for a taste of the Mediterranean summer wherever you are.

 

June 27, 2021 — Admin account
Top 10 Store Cupboard Staples

Top 10 Store Cupboard Staples

Tasty recipes start with a well-stocked pantry which can lift your daily dishes to another level. For example, take a simple pasta dish and try an artisan gluten-free fusilli and cook like a chef from the comfort of your kitchen . Stock up your cupboard with artisan tuna, pasta, olive oil or passata, and you’ll notice an immediate improvement to your dishes. 
May 18, 2021 — Admin account
April 2021 Fine Food Digest features the Artisan Olive Oil Company

April 2021 Fine Food Digest features the Artisan Olive Oil Company

We are delighted to be featured in the Fine Food Digest April 2021 edition in its coverage of new oils and vinegars. 

The Fine Food Digest is published by the Guild of Fine Foods and is one of the most respected trade magazine for the fine food and delicatessen sector in the UK. 

The article included 3 recent product launches: aix&terra's organic olive oil with chili from the Provence, Moulins Mahjoub's organic early harvest single variety Chetoui extra virgin olive oil from Tunisia and Diliberto's organic Fiordidrupa extra virgin olive oil from Sicily.  

We are very pleased with the success of the latest additions to our range of oils which can be found across the UK in organic stores, delicatessen and farm shops. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@artisanoliveoilcompany.com or on (0) 203 866 8934 to become a stockist. 

April 17, 2021 — Admin account
Olives harvest at Frantoio Franci in Tuscany

Buy the world's best olive oils 2020 / 2021

The new 2020/2021 harvest is finished and we had the opportunity to taste many news oils. Whilst there have been significant changes in volumes of production around the Mediterranean, we continue to find real gems of carefully crafted premium olive oils from our partners. 

Frantoio Franci, the award-winning artisan producer based in Tuscany, with the highest score of 100 points in the 2021 edition of Flos Olei, has launched a single variety coratina which we highly recommend for lovers of intense olive oils. It displays a powerful and elegant taste, complex with well-defined bitter and spicy notes of long persistence and good harmony. We have thoroughly enjoyed it drizzled over a butternut squash soup. The Toscano IGP has won another Gold Medal at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition. This medium fruity Tuscan is particularly well suited to a tomato and mozzarella salad. 

In Spain, our partner Oro Bailen is back with their 4 monocultivar extra virgin olive oils, hojiblanca, arbequina, picual and frantoio. Whilst picual continues to be regarded as one of the world's finest olive oils, winning year after year gold medals in the most prestigious competitions, we have been delighted to discover the new 2020/2021 hojiblanca, the mildest oil in the range. It has a beautiful fruitiness and is great to embark on a journey into the world of premium olive oils. 

Oro Bailen frantoio extra virgin olive oil used in Michelin starred restaurants

In Tunisia, after a particularly warm fall, our partner Domaine Fendri had to wait until the second half of November to start the harvest. A drop in temperatures is crucial to give the mild chemlali variety its fruitiness. We found the new 2020/2021 oil to be balanced, complex in flavours with a long finish and a slight degree of bitterness. We enjoyed it on fresh vegetables and sourdough bread. Domaine Fendri was a finalist in the 2020 edition of the Mario Solinas International Olive Oil Competition. 

 

 

Where to buy the best Tunisian harissa, online and in fine food stores

Where to buy the best Tunisian harissa, online and in fine food stores

The word harissa comes from the arabic word "هرس" which refers to the pounding or crushing of sun-dried peppers which is its main ingredient. They are typically mixed with garlic, caraway seeds, cumin, salt, sun-dried tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Some recipes also include dried mint.

Peppers arrived in Tunisia in the 16th century during the Spanish occupation and quickly become a key ingredient in its cuisine. Today, harissa can be found all over the world and has been fully adopted as a condiment from Europe, the Middle East to the United States. Prestigious chefs such as Yoram Ottolenghi often uses it his original recipes, showcasing the diversity of the South Mediterranean cuisine.

Many harissa recipes have developed over the years. We currently carry three different versions produced by Moulins Mahjoub, our partner from Tunisia in the North of Tunisia. Our organic Tunisian harissa paste is our best-sellers, it is the spiciest of the range and contains 80% baklouti peppers, a particularly hot chili pepper variety. It is very versatile for sandwiches, sauces, stews, soups, fish and meat dishes but given its strength it should be used in moderation. The traditional harissa, is the typical Berber recipe, it has a slightly smoked flavour, a medium spiciness, which makes it ideal for roasts and vegetables. Our mildest one is the sweet pepper harissa and can be used as an anti-pasti, together with pasta or on toasted bread.

Our harissa can be bought on our website, and in some of the UK's best fine food and organic stores such as Planet Organic in London, Dugard and Daughters in Ensfield or Infinity stores and bakery in Brighton.

November 08, 2020 — Admin account
Artisan Olive Oil Company wins 7 Great Taste Awards 2020

Artisan Olive Oil Company wins 7 Great Taste Awards 2020

For its 2020 edition of the Great Taste Awards, we are delighted to have won 7 new recognitions together with our partners.

1. Due Vittorie Apple Vinegar: won 3 Great Taste stars (won by less than 2% of the participants in the competition). Here are some of the judges’ comments: "Beautiful, deep golden vinegar. The aroma is of bittersweet apples. The taste.....wow, the taste. We had to check that there wasn't honey in the ingredients such was the level of sweetness that married perfectly with the acetic, rich, caramel balsamic. The viscosity is that of a darker, older balsamic...the length is unwavering in its balanced purity....What a corker. An aroma of fine old wood furniture and a cellar filled with barrels draws you in. The flavour is both fruity and sharp, beautifully crafted and perfectly balanced. We could drink this product as it is. Quite delicious. There is a roundness and sweetness that harmonises with the acetic tang. This is made by someone who really knows what they are doing. What a pleasure to taste this. Glorious....Caramel and rich in appearance, beautifully clear. A prominent cooked apple aroma. WOW! what a delicious vinegar - sweet “caramelly” notes balanced by the sharp vinegar. Still very much an apple cider vinegar but does have some of the character of a balsamic, which the method of production obviously has created.

2. Oro Bailen Arbequina extra virgin olive oil: won 2 Great Taste stars. The Great Taste judges mentioned :” There is a great deal of character to this oil whilst still being gentle.”

 3. Oro Bailen Frantoio extra virgin olive oil: won 1 Great Taste star. Commenting on Oro Bailed Frantoio, the Great Taste judges mentioned “beautiful, deep, green gold oil with a sparkling clear appearance and aromas of warm freshly cut, sweet meadow hay. On the palate it is rich, smooth and creamily textured, fresh-tasting with notes of tomato leaf and bitter herb, followed by a vigorous, spicy pepper impact hitting the senses. High levels of lasting peppery heat, a certain pungency and a vegetal bitterness populate the finish. A gold-green oil with apple and wild rocket intensity on the nose.”

 4. Oro Bailen Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil: won 1 Great Taste star. Commenting on Oro Bailen Hojiblanca, the Great Taste judges ...” What an exquisite colour of golden green, perfectly clear. The aroma of freshly cut grass also has elements of cold buttered artichokes and green bananas. The mouthfeel and texture are silky smooth with a fresh young olive fruitiness, a little bitterness midpalate, and a warm and reassuring pepperiness on the finish….Vibrant in colour with a grassy, citrus nose. Peppery, meadowy and fruity in taste.”

 5. Moulins Mahjoub organic hand-rolled wholewheat m'hamsa: won 1 Great Taste star. The judges found : "There was also an array of nutty flavours here that ranged from walnut to hazelnut which we enjoyed"

 6. Moulins Mahjoub organic Tunisian shakshuka: won 1 Great Taste star. "This tastes homemade and without any taint from being jarred" said a judge.

7. Moulins Mahjoub organic artisan sauce with black olives and artichokes: won 1 Great Taste star. The judges commented on its "Wonderful vibrant colour with fabulous fresh aroma. A true smell of the Med. The flavour from the olives and artichokes is outstanding. All the ingredients are bringing an amazing fresh zing."

The Artisan Olive Oil Company is a London based importer, distributor and wholesaler serving independent, speciality and organic stores as well as department stores across the UK.

A guide to choosing the best balsamic vinegars

A guide to choosing the best balsamic vinegars

 

The high street is full of products with the word balsamic, from glazes to 100 year old balsamic vinegars which range from £2 to £200. To better understand what drives price and quality of balsamic vinegar, it is important to understand its provenance and production process.

Balsamic vinegar provenance

Balsamic vinegar is produced in the province of Modena in the North of Italy in small quantities and through a long ageing process. The consortium of Italian balsamic vinegar producers has set a very detailed set of rules and parameters which need to be follow in order to obtain their stamp of approval. This includes the use of local wine grapes such as Lambrusco and Trebbiano. Balsamic vinegar is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO or DOP in Italian) which confirms its provenance. Traditional balsamic vinegar bottles also contain a numbered seal which allows to trace the origin of the product and monitor production volumes which tend to be very small.   

Taste and aroma of balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has a dark colour, a dense syrupy texture, a complex aromatic profile often referred to as the bouquet and a balanced sweet-sour taste.

Balsamic vinegar production

The pressing and cooking of the grape must happens at the same time. It is subsequently cooked in an open recipient for several hours to start the concentration process. This leads to the aging process which takes places in wood barrels of decreasing sizes, starting from the largest one initially and ending with the smallest which will be used to extract a small quantity of balsamic vinegar. 12 to 25 years are necessary for the product to reach the appropriate profile to qualify for the DOP certification. As a rule of thumb, only about 10% of the liquid remains after 25 years and this is one of the main drivers of the price of aged balsamic vinegars.

 

Food pairings with balsamic vinegar

The 12 year-old balsamic vinegar is referred to as "traditionale" and is best suited to warm dishes such as a caponata, risotto, salads vegetables or ice cream and strawberries. The 25 year-old balsamic vinegar referred to as "extra vecchio" is ideal on parmigiano reggiano, meat and fish dishes. In all cases, only a few drops may be sufficient to enhance your dish.

 

Balsamic vinegar: a popular Christmas gift

Similarly to fine wines, aged balsamic vinegars, through its complex and long production process, has naturally become a popular Christmas present. A product which used to be confined to the Italian aristocracy has become more democratised. Its shelf life also means that it can be enjoyed over a long period of time with friends and family and used as a rare ingredient for those special occasions.

 

November 05, 2020 — Admin account
Oro Bailen Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil wins Flos Olei 2021 Award

Oro Bailen Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil wins Flos Olei 2021 Award

We are delighted to hear that our partner Oro Bailen based in Andalusia has received the Flos Olei 2021 award for the best quality / quantity extra virgin olive oil in the world for its picual extra virgin olive oil.
November 04, 2020 — Admin account