When it comes to thinking about where some of the best olive oil comes from, Italy naturally tops the list. After all, a dining table in Italy is never fully dressed without a bottle of the golden elixir ready for liberally splashing onto sun ripened tomatoes or dipping the table bread.
It probably comes as little surprise to know that Italy is the second largest producer of olive oil in the world and the third largest consumer per capita.
Many households and kitchens around the world include a bottle of Italian olive oil as standard in their cooking arsenal, which will probably be extra virgin. Not sure about the difference between plain, virgin and extra olive oil? Find out here.
What does Italian olive oil taste like?
Again, it may seem like common sense that not all Italian olive oil is created equal. Just like wine there are huge variations in flavour and colour depending on the region in the country where the olive oil was made.
Much like wine, the flavour of olive oil is affected by many different factors including the varietals used to produce the oil, when the olives are harvested and ground (less ripe olives give more bitter and spicy flavours – riper olives give a sweeter sensation in the oil).
The north produces oils that are mild, slightly nutty, and very good with fish. Oils from the centre of the country are stronger-tasting, with grassy notes. Southern Italy, including Sicily, produces oils that have a drier, more herbal flavour.
Italian olive oil is the backbone of Italian cuisine, from dressings to deep frying. Here are three Italian olive oil recipes that let the golden elixir sing: