Thursday, October 1, 2009

"X" is for eXtra Virgin Olive Oil

About a month ago and for my cooking club, I hosted a class on olive oil with one of the world's best Italian producers of Italian olive oil named Olearia San Giorgio Olive Oils.

Sarafino Inc. is a small importing and distribution company that handles only quality artisanal products true to their origins. They have a committment to educating their retailers and customers about their products and how they are made. Sarafino specializes in Internationally renowned Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oils and their newest child, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, all produced on the family estate.
Olearia San Giorgio olive oils have won several International awards for their products and are regarded as one of the best by olive oil producers in the world. The company is owned by 5 brothers (they inherited the family company.) Angelo, the son of one of the brothers, distributes the oils. Many gourmet shops throughout the GTA and in Peterborough (Firehouse Gourmet, Strano's Mediterranean Market) carry these products.

The workshop was outstanding, and I learned a great deal about this healthy oil.

First of all, there's more Italian olive oil distributed throughout the world than there are Italian olives growing! How is this possible? Well, according to Angelo, this industry has many manipulations and falsehoods. Said another way, the public is purposefully mislead about oil authenticity and quality.

Many olive oils are not pure. Many are blended with other oils, such as canola. People (like me) use these inferior blends, thinking they're doing good things for their body.

How do you find pure olive oil?

Look for the family's name on the bottle. Also, the product should be "made in Italy" NOT imported from or bottled in Italy. The address of the estate should be present on the bottle, as well. And most importantly, there MUST have a Lot #. Every pure bottle that leaves Italy (sealed) is given a lot #.

Since this workshop I've been using olive oil as a face and body moisturizer. "Pure extra virgin olive oil" is the best thing for one's skin and for preventing skin cancer, Angelo told us. You use it right on your skin. This protects the skin from all the bad ultra violet rays that cause skin cancer. The best sun screen.

It you rub olive oil on your skin and it sits on top and is greasy, it's not pure. It is no doubt blended with other bi-products. PURE virgin olive oil absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it soft.

Pure olive oil also reduces wrinkles if you mix some with a little lemon juice and use it on your face at night.

For your hair, after shampooing, mix some olive oil, lemon juice and an egg yolk, and a little bit of beer together. Save your wine for sipping in the tub! Rub this mixture into your hair and leav it on for 5 minutes. Rinse.

The olive oil experts (who must train as diligently as wine growers) say that you should not put ANYTHING on your skin that you would not put into your mouth. Everything that goes onto the skin is absorbed into the brain within 10 seconds, Angelo said.

So, olive oil is the most effective and safest product for the skin, for aging, for sun protection, and for aiding in the prevention of skin cancer.

"Pure virgin olive oil" also does the following ...

reduces LDL cholesterol
reduces arterial occlusion
reduces angina and myocardial infarction
reduces blood glucose and triglyceride levels
increases bile secretion for improved digestion and aids in liver detoxification
increases vitamin A, D and E absorption
heals sores
reduces gallstones
improves membrane development, cell formation and cell differentiation

When it comes to pairing dishes with olive oil to wine, consider the idea of viscosity. Viscosity is a term used to describe the thickness of a substance, such as a dish or wine. Even light extra virgin olive oils have decent viscosity. The more oily the dish, the greater the alcohol content you'll want in the matching wine. High alcohol contributes to a wine's viscosity. Pesto, for example, works with Chardonnays ranging in alcohol content from 13.5 to 15%. (Sugar and glycerine also contribute to viscosity. That's why Icewine can be so thick, even if its alcohol content is only 12.5%.)

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