Brazilian extra virgin olive oils were celebrated in São Paolo last night as chefs, producers and diners came together to taste and learn.
The world of olive oil has shown me that olive oil is much more than a simple ingredient, so our mission is to teach through tastes.
Olive oil sommelier and chef, Pérola Polillo, teamed up with television host and master chef, Carla Pernambuco, to host the tenth edition of Gastro Pop’s Azeite Experience Awards Edition, which featured an olive oil-themed dinner.
Seven courses, including a two-course desert, were served throughout the evening. Polillo made a point of incorporating Brazilian olive oil into each part of the meal, using it differently each time to show olive oil’s versatility.
“The world of olive oil has shown me that olive oil is much more than a simple ingredient, so our mission is to teach through tastes,” Polillo said. Among the oils she selected for the dinner were the four brands recognized at this year’s NYIOOC: Boriello, Irarema Farm, Prosperato and Verde Louro.
Polillo is a graduate of the International Culinary Center’s olive oil sommelier certification program and told Olive Oil Times that the course helped open her eyes to the oil’s potential for cooking.
“After the course, I understood that keeping the taste buds clean is very important,” she said. “And we can do this in cooking too, by not using too many herbs and seasonings.”
Polillo has been invited for the past two years to cook for the NYIOOC judges during their week-long task of analyzing 1,000 oils. Curtis Cord, president of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition said, “Not only is Perola a gifted and creative chef, she understands sensory analysis and has a passion for olive oil that shines through in her creative dishes.”
The evening in São Paolo began with a sausage puff pastry, glazed in sugar cane syrup and Quinta de Soalheiro extra virgin olive oil from Serra da Mantiqueira.
This was followed in quick succession by balls of goat cheese, squash and a Brazilian green salad dressed with olive oil from Prosperato. Prosperato won two Gold Awards for its Exclusivo Picual and Exclusivo Koroneiki at the 2018 NYIOOC.
Rafael Marchetti, director of Prosperato told Olive Oil Times that events such as the Azeite Experience are important for promoting proper cooking techniques and uses of extra virgin olive oil to consumers.
“It is always important to be part of any kind of event that promotes good food with good extra virgin olive oil,” he said. “In the end, that is what matters to us and to the consumer, who learns more deeply the unique characteristics of our product and how to use it in the best way possible, with the most diverse dishes.”
Next came the main courses, the first of which consisted of southern polenta, asparagus and paçoca de carne seca, which are strips of sun-dried meat and peanut butter paste. Fazenda Irarema’s 2018 NYIOOC Best in Class delicate blend was used to fry the asparagus.
This was followed by a pasta dish of gnocchi, fonduta and pinhão, which was prepared in Olibi extra virgin olive oil from serra da Mantiqueira.
The diversity of the dishes is part of the point of the whole experience for Polillo, who believes that consumers must be educated about how brecipeuse each olive oil.
“Every olive oil [that we] used has one good point and one good recipes,” she said. “For me the Brazilian extra virgin olive oil, in general, stands out in this moment. It has been milled very recently and the producers here are dedicated to making the best possible oils.”
This was followed by, perhaps, Polillo’s favorite dessert: a sorbet that demonstrates just how adaptable olive oil can be.
“I like to use olive oil very much in different ways and using different techniques,” Polillo sid. “This time, I loved the dessert, with one special Brazilian fruit, called Bacuri from Amazonia, combined with clementine or tangerine syrup and tangerine confit in extra virgin olive oil.”
Once the wine was finished and the plates had been cleared, Polillo hoped that the customers left with a better understanding of how to cook with olive oil and would continue to grow and share this knowledge.
She has been taking part in the experience for a little over a year-and-a-half now and said that each time she hosts an Azeite Experience, customers seem to be more interested in and knowledgeable about olive oil than the last.
Marchetti believes this kind of exposure is both good for Prosperato and the Brazilian olive oil sector. While there is no evidence that these events lead to an immediate uptick in sales, the recognition of high-quality extra virgin olive oil in this kind of public setting does help to educate and grow the consumer base.
“[The Azeite Experience] certainly helps our brand, in general, in the long term,” he said. “It is all about doing the right job to get a special product and then receiving the proper recognition as a consequence. It would not happen if we did not have people interested in high quality olive oil.”