`North American Olive Oil Association Hosts a Tasting in New York - Olive Oil Times

North American Olive Oil Association Hosts a Tasting in New York

By Curtis Cord
Apr. 12, 2011 21:33 UTC

Olive oil indus­try exec­u­tives and jour­nal­ists gath­ered at a Midtown Manhattan Italian restau­rant Monday evening for an olive oil tast­ing and din­ner hosted by the North American Olive Oil Association.

Stephen Mandia, chair­man of the trade group, which is affil­i­ated with the International Olive Council (IOC), wel­comed guests to the event titled Pour on the Flavor.” Mandia, 45, founded a pri­vately-held com­pany East Coast Olive Oil Corporation in 1991 which became the largest importer of olive oil in the United States. Eighty per­cent of the com­pany was sold to Nutrinveste of Portugal. Mandia con­tin­ues to serve as chair­man of the board of direc­tors of the com­pany, now called Sovena USA.

Bob Bauer, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the NAOOA, intro­duced the trade asso­ci­a­tion, which is com­prised of major importers and the American sub­sidiaries of the world’s largest olive oil com­pa­nies. He began by describ­ing the International Olive Council’s func­tion as the world body that deter­mines stan­dards and ensures olive oil qual­ity. We work closely with the IOC,” he said, adding the NAOOA is a de facto cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram,” since com­pa­nies that do not com­ply with IOC stan­dards can­not main­tain mem­ber­ship in the group nor bear the NAOOA seal.

The fea­tured speaker was Dr. Wencesloa Moreda, a research sci­en­tist at the Instituto de la Grasa of the Spanish Research Council who pre­sented a basic intro­duc­tion to olive oil.

The dis­parate group of atten­dees ranged from senior exec­u­tives of the world’s largest olive oil com­pa­nies includ­ing Grupo Sos, Filipo Berio, Pompeian and Sovena Group to food writ­ers and other jour­nal­ists, many of whom seemed to be tast­ing olive oil, by itself, for the first time.

Consequently reac­tions to sip­ping straight olive oil ranged from know­ing nods by the olive oil pros, to winces by some of the New York area writ­ers unac­cus­tomed to olive oil tast­ings.

The first oil was mod­er­ately fruity, with a slightly greasy feel and the taste of almond. Next was an oil with greener notes, more bit­ter, but with a less pun­gent fin­ish. Participants mar­veled how the third oil dis­played no aroma at all, and almost no taste. It was explained this was a light olive oil suit­able for cook­ing and fry­ing. Finally, when the plas­tic lid was lifted from the fourth olive oil the scent was of sparkling wine, and the taste was off. This was an oil dis­play­ing a num­ber of defects, the pre­sen­ter explained, includ­ing ran­cid­ity.

Executive chef Matteo Bergamini of SD26, the restau­rant for­merly well-known as San Domenico on Central Park South, pre­sented the evening’s menu which he paired with the fea­tured olive oils, which were not named. He used the medium-intense oil on a quail egg salad, the more pep­pery extra vir­gin for a risotto with mus­sels and squid. A shoul­der of beef was dressed with another olive oil that was not included in the tast­ing. The din­ner was nicely pre­sented and deli­cious.

There were no ques­tions asked dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, although some of the olive oil exec­u­tives were avail­able to reporters before­hand. Dinner con­ver­sa­tion spanned a vari­ety of top­ics includ­ing olive oil qual­ity issues, prices in Europe, New World pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing chal­lenges.

Several exec­u­tives were encour­aged by the cam­paign to pro­mote olive oil use in North America recently announced by IOC Director Jean-Louis Barjol and sched­uled to launch at this Summer’s Fancy Food Show in Washington.

There was an olive oil tast­ing bar” that looked like it could have been trans­planted from any super­mar­ket. The brands on dis­play and avail­able for tast­ing included Goya, Carapelli, Star, Carbonell, Pompeian, Filippo Berio and Zoe.


Related Articles