The best chefs and foodies in the world are aware that success in the kitchen depends on experimentation. It's important to not be afraid to experiment with flavor combinations because the most satisfying dishes are those that offer an unexpected twist or something unique.
There are different flavor notes in different olive oils that work best on certain dishes, while other flavor notes may be preferable for the next dish. When experimenting with olive oil, it’s important to understand the oil's characteristics as well as the characteristics of the food it will be paired with.
Olive Oil is Very Versatile.
Olive Oil is not a one-size-fits-all food; it has a variety of flavor notes and levels of intensity. Olive oil’s level of intensity is usually categorized into one of three buckets: mild, medium, or robust.
Mild / Delicate
Delicate, or mild, olive oils typically have a smooth and buttery flavor, a fruity aroma, no bitterness, and a slightly peppery finish. These olive oils are best for foods like fish and fresh salads, where a lighter flavor is more complementary. The base of our entire line of flavored olive oils is "mild/delicate" oil. We use "mild/delicate" because we want to highlight the various plant flavors that we use to flavor the oil that we sell in our store.
In comparison to a mild olive oil, a medium-bodied one might have a little more presence. Olive oils with a medium body have a fruity flavor, a grassy aroma, and a peppery or spicy finish. Medium-bodied olive oils are best for foods like vegetables, pasta, and chicken. Olive oils with a medium body are ideal for dishes with vegetables, pasta, and chicken. If you like bread, this is the type of oil you'll want to dip your fresh bread chunks in!
For the most classic and yet distinctive option, go with a robust olive oil. The flavors in robust olive oils are strong and distinctive; you might get a grassy flavor with a potent, peppery finish. It’s also common for moderate hints of artichoke flavor to be present in these oils. Since robust olive oils are so flavorful, the food that they go on generally needs to be flavorful as well, so one doesn’t overpower the other. Try them on spicy dishes, in soups or stews, or with red meat and aged cheese.
It's a little-known fact in the world of cooking that foods grown in the same region will typically pair well together. The same holds true for olive oil; if you're making a Greek dish, olive oil from that region is very likely to go well with it. In our store, we offer Greek olive oil that is robust in intensity as well as Tunisian olive oil that is more on the mild side. Go out and try some new dishes from these regions, pair them with the respective oil, and let us know what you think!
You’re the Chef; You decide
Bottom line you’re the 'chef' and no one can tell you which Olive Oil to pair with your dish. It's up to you whether you want to use a subtler oil to complement your dish or an oil that will contrast some of the flavors in your dish. Above all, enjoy it and have fun with it! No matter how you choose to use it, olive oil is a guaranteed winner in the kitchen.