Is there such a thing as “the best” olive oil in the world? Olive oil shares much with wine; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of brands, resulting from the blending of different varieties of olives grown in different soils, elevations, and temperatures, and processed in different equipment and using a variety of methods of extraction.
There are bad oils, there are OK oils, and there are a few great oils. The matter is complicated by the fact that, unlike wine, there is extensive and massive fraud in the olive oil business globally; most of what we buy in grocery and big-box stores is cut with seed oils in order to lower price and increase profitability. Don’t be fooled by a fancy bottle or label either.
There are a handful of great oils available, and among them, a few super-elite that transcend anything you’ve ever experienced. I’ve tasted a few of these over the years. They are so good that it takes only a tiny amount to bring out the flavour of anything you add them to. They can transform a fresh loaf of bread and bottle of wine into a complete meal.
In my opinion and within the constraints of limited experience, there is one brand that stands supreme (as they say on Iron Chef): Ravida oil from Sicily. Near impossible to find and so outrageously priced (around $65 per litre), it reflects the very limited source of supply from the small Ravida family estate. Take a quick look at the brief video below:
The current Managing Director of the family business, Natalia Ravida, and I have had an email correspondence over the years, much of it about my frustration at how excruciatingly hard it is to find the stuff in Canada. She wrote me today to say that they have a new Canadian distributor (in Toronto, of course) and that supply should ease up a little.
The cheese store at Atwater market occasionally has a couple of 500ml bottles. Treat yourself to a very special experience. Next time you plan to splurge on a good bottle of wine around $30…spend it on a bottle of Ravida instead. It will go much further and give you immense pleasure.