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An Olive Oil Immersion in Mendoza

Mar. 1, 2011
Amanda Hall

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Exploring Mendoza’s olive oils is no small feat, but check­ing out the menu at Verolio is a good start. In an area of the world known for laid-back and often down­right slow ser­vice, Verolio’s cheer­ful and speedy servers seem out of place, not that we’re com­plain­ing. We seated our­selves in the casual café and were greeted within a few sec­onds.

Repurposed antiques and clean-lined wooden tables and chairs invite din­ers, and the stark white walls and con­tem­po­rary accents reflect the moder­nity of the adjoin­ing Hotel Internacional. Photos of olives and the olive oil process, antiques olive pit strain­ers repur­posed as found art and the selec­tion of local olive oils and olive oil prod­ucts for sale get the point across: at Verolio, olive oil is the main focus.

We started with the olive oil tast­ing, 30 pesos for three olive oils from Mendoza, fresh olive oil may­on­naise, black and green tape­nades, oil cured dried olives, a mix of green and ripe brined olives, crunchy bread­sticks, caramelized onion bread seared with olive oil, and soft white bread – all local of course.

Our server led us through descrip­tions the olive oils with tast­ing notes and the olives’ native regions. The may­on­naise tangy and incred­i­ble, the olives fruity and fresh, the breads heav­enly, and the whole 30 peso ($8) pack­age included a glass of house wine. We chose the Familia Zuccardi sparkler, which did not dis­ap­point.

Our olive oils:

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Eliá Arbequina – Manzanilla oil from north­ern Mendoza, this oil is one of Eliá’s light­est styles with but­tery fla­vors.
Melanario – Nevadillo oil with strong fla­vors of green apple and raw almond.
Marla Ravida – Full-fla­vored blend of fran­toio and arauco oils, per­fect for wood-grilled Argentinean steaks.

On another visit, we tried a few more menu items, and received the same speedy ser­vice.



The leek, fontina, and bal­samic roasted almond tar­tine with honey, enticed with aro­matic melted leeks and cream over­flow­ing onto the plate. The server topped our tar­tine and accom­pa­ny­ing mesclun salad with Nevadillo olive oil as she deliv­ered the dish. The tart shell, which may or may not have been very lightly sweet­ened with the afore­men­tioned honey (read on), broke per­fectly under our forks, crunchy on the out­side and silky on the inside. Gently caramelized leek with fontina rocked our world, espe­cially with Gerónimo Chardonnay, Mendoza, a lightly oaked bou­tique bot­tle with a happy dose of trop­i­cal notes for only 40 pesos ($10). The only thing miss­ing was the bal­samic roasted almonds (and pos­si­bly the honey) where were the almonds? Not so dis­mayed, the tart was deli­cious with­out them.

We ordered some snacks from the small-plates menu: a fiambre y queso (cured local meats and cheeses) with pre­served veg­eta­bles, a warm egg­plant tapa with olive oil cured cherry toma­toes, and a goat cheese and arugula pizzette.

The meats and cheeses were freshly cut, good qual­ity and an inter­est­ing spread of sev­eral selec­tions.

The egg­plant with cherry toma­toes turned out to be thin, chewy slices of breaded egg­plant with the same pep­pers from the fiambre y queso board. The pizzettes, served on the same plate as the egg­plant, were flat­breads with melted goat cheese, fra­grant, mature arugula leaves and more cool shred­ded cheese. Too cheesy, espe­cially after the spread we’d already con­sumed. These dishes too, were topped with a driz­zle of local olive oil upon deliv­ery.

Verolio is an excel­lent place to get started sam­pling Mendoza’s olive oils along­side some deli­cious dishes and great local wines.

Verolio
Sarmiento 720
Ciudad de Mendoza
Tel: 0261 – 4255600
reservas@hinternacional.com.ar

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