`A Celebration of Lazio Extra Virgin - Olive Oil Times

A Celebration of Lazio Extra Virgin

May. 24, 2012
Luciana Squadrilli

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Expert tasters can judge the qual­ity of an olive oil just smelling it, and they are not afraid to drink it from the offi­cial, small blue glass. But when it comes to nor­mal peo­ple” there is no bet­ter way to enjoy a good extra vir­gin olive oil than using it in a tasty recipe.

That is why Arsial (Lazio’s Regional Agency for Development and Innovation in Agriculture) and Uliveti del Lazio (Lazio’s olive oil pro­duc­ers asso­ci­a­tion) asked a bunch of young, clever chefs to come up with their own inter­pre­ta­tion of some of the best extra vir­gin olive oils from the region. Lazio has a great vari­ety of cul­ti­vars and many excel­lent prod­ucts, and the region is home to 5 out of 42 Italian olive oil PDOs.

The Extra Virgin Dinners project,” says Uliveti del Lazio President Loriana Abbruzzetti, aims to improve the regional food and restau­rant busi­ness. It will allow the link between the regional culi­nary tra­di­tions and the tastes of local dishes to grow strong; this is where extra vir­gin olive oil plays a major role.” Massimo Gargano, Unaprol President, also under­lines that it’s the strong bond to our land which cre­ates the unique and dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter of our prod­ucts.” He adds that chefs and restau­ra­teurs are very impor­tant in pro­mot­ing the regional food and wine assets.

The first chef that was invited to bring his cui­sine to the Enoteca Regionale Palatium (the regional prod­ucts show­room located in the very cen­ter of Rome), was Dario Tornatore. Twenty-six years old, he was born in Naples but set­tled down in Rome a few years ago after work­ing with great European chefs such as Gordon Ramsay. The menu he cre­ated for the occa­sion per­fectly met the brief: enhance regional prod­ucts and ingre­di­ents by using the right extra vir­gin — which he achieved by mix­ing his Neapolitan back­ground and the Roman tra­di­tion with a mod­ern twist.

The first course was a Roman arti­choke carpac­cio served with an inter­est­ing vari­a­tion on a clas­sic Neapolitan recipe, the moz­zarella in car­rozza” (a golden-crusted fried moz­zarella sand­wich). Dario Tornatore replaced the moz­zarella with Caciofiore di Columella, a tasty sheep cheese whose ori­gins date back to the Roman times. He paired it with the arti­choke-flavoured Bon Riposo extra vir­gin, an Itrana monocul­ti­var by l’Isoletta farm from the Latina province.

A dish of spaghetti fol­lowed, sea­soned with a creamy dried salt-cured cod and Romanesco broc­coli (the beau­ti­ful and tasty frac­tal-shaped vari­ety of cau­li­flower) with the final touch given by the gen­tle Fons Olei blend by San Clemente farm from Tivoli, not far from Rome.

Another spot on choice was to use the del­i­cate Olio del Podere by the Chiusa della Vasca farm in Castelnuovo di Farfa (in the Rieti region) to pre­pare the freshly made may­on­naise. This was served with the mack­erel con­fit (a very com­mon fish caught along the Lazio shores) and the cour­gettes escabeche.

We would have liked a hint of olive oil in the choco­late cream in the dessert, too – a sweet ver­sion of the tramezzino sand­wich (an old favourite Roman street food) filled with an iced cream with the famous choco­late made in a Trappist monastery not far from Rome.

Next Extra Virgin Dinner” will fea­ture Heros De Agostinis, who also worked with Heinz Beck at the lux­ury restau­rant La Pergola in Rome.

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