If you’ve watched my TV shows (the latest one is Project Fire on American Public Television), you’ve likely noticed I always emphasize that the quality of your food is at least as important as how you cook it.
On the show, we use the best meat. The best produce. The best seafood. This dedication to quality extends to other ingredients as well.
An example? Premium extra virgin olive oil, which is a regular on the set, is a staple in my cooking and grilling life, a “desert island” ingredient like salt or pepper. It’s a critical component in sauces, marinades, bastes, and wet rubs. I also drizzle it over meats (it mingles with the natural juices to make board sauces), roasted vegetables, and grilled breads and salads. I can’t imagine Bistecca alla fiorentina without it, and often use it to keep fish and chicken from sticking to the grill grate. Unlike vegetable oil, it adds flavor—and successful pit masters are always looking for ways to add flavor.
But I realized several years ago that I was leading an uncertain and impoverished olive oil life.
Like most people, I’d stand in front of the display at the supermarket, hoping against hope I’d beat the odds and pick an amazing oil. More often than not, I didn’t. Price, I discovered the hard way, was no indicator of quality. (If I didn’t know that, Barbecue University alum Larry Olmsted, my pal and the author of the best-selling book Real Food, Fake Food, drove the point home with his illuminating treatise on olive oil. He and I, by the way, share the same dependable olive oil source. Read on.) Fancy labels were not an indicator of quality. Even gourmet shops couldn’t be trusted to sell me fresh, top-shelf, extra virgin olive oils. (Word is, many olive oil brands are dominated by organized crime. Several common olive oil brands that present themselves as extra virgin have been exposed as fraudulent according to Larry’s book.)
My olive oil world changed when my longtime assistant, Nancy Loseke, who trained in sensory perception at the Robert Mondavi Olive Center at UC Davis and who has sampled thousands of olive oils, introduced me to the good stuff! The mind-blowing bottles of fresh-pressed olive oil she brought to Barbecue University snagged Larry’s attention, too.
Today, my kitchens (indoor and outdoor) are stocked only with extraordinary extra virgin olive oil. And the responsibility for picking it is off my shoulders.
How does the program work? Quarterly, the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club sends three bottles of the world’s best fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oils (verified as 100 percent extra virgin by independent labs), hand-selected by “Olive Oil Hunter,” T.J. Robinson, and rushed to the U.S. by jet from the planet’s best producers. Nancy was actually one of the founders of this unique club.
Now, T.J. has generously offered to give subscribers of my newsletter and visitors to my blog access to the same oils for only $1. You’ll receive a full-size bottle of one of his “finds,” and in the process, will discover a universe of olive oil you never knew existed. But act quickly. Access to this trial subscription to the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club (you can cancel at any time) will end on Saturday, November 3, 2018.