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Olio Taibi

by Brian Fichtner in Food + Drink on 16 September 2008

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When it came to finding a top notch extra virgin olive oil, I turned to Zingerman's, the nationally renowned delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I asked the retail manager, and good friend, Gauri Thergaonkar for a list of highlights, and one of the first producers she mentioned was Olio Taibi.

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Olio Taibi is a single estate producer based in Montaperto, Sicily. The Taibi Estate is situated near the Valley of the Temples, one of the world’s most important archeological treasures and a UNESCO World Heritage site. A family run business, Olio Taibi is the epitome of artisinal, specializing in only two monocultivar olive oils: Nocellara and Biancolilla, both of which originated in Sicily. The estate is organically farmed, the olives entirely hand-picked and immediately cold-pressed after harvest, with all bottling done on site. When I asked Gauri what made Olio Taibi special, she noted of the oil, “It stands out amongst all the oils available in the market. It's an extremely well made, monovarietal which is representative of a region with high tipicity [or unique organoleptic identity]…”

For some, olive oil is olive oil and buying a bottle of Colavita is as far as one need travel. But if you like your oil to take you on a journey, then Olio Taibi is the producer for you. The Nocellara is characterized by a supple texture, citrus notes, and a hint of pepper, making it an ideal accompaniment for cheese, or to use in preparing a full-bodied dish. The Biancolilla is a softer, more earthy oil, though when consumed alone or with bread, it packs a peppery punch that can sneak up on you.

Due to a unfavorable heat wave last year, the 2007 Biancolilla could not be produced. However, you can contact Zingerman's Mail Order (tel. +888-636-8162) to purchase a bottle (or several) of the Nocellara for $30 for a half-liter.

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