` An Olive Oil Tasting at Fairway Market

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An Olive Oil Tasting at Fairway Market

Apr. 18, 2013
By Lara Camozzo

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Steve Jenk­ins is known as a cheese­mon­ger, olive oil retailer, and the mas­ter mer­chant for Fair­way Mar­ket since the early 1980s, but he refers to him­self as a stu­dent of olive oil.” On Wednes­day April 17th, a World Olive Oil Tour was held at the Broad­way Fair­way Mar­ket loca­tion, hosted by Jenk­ins who said, I want you to learn some­thing every sin­gle time you come into one of my stores.” The tast­ing was part of the pro­gram for the first New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion.

With over a dozen loca­tions to choose from, and an array of up to 40 extra vir­gin olive oils avail­able to taste every day, Jenk­ins has cre­ated an oppor­tu­nity for his cus­tomers to become stu­dents as well. His unfil­tered bar­rel oils have been labeled with regional and vari­etal infor­ma­tion by Jenk­ins him­self who said, We want you to have all the infor­ma­tion you need, and on top of that taste the oils, so there’s no fool­ing around. Unless the con­sumer under­stands the geog­ra­phy, they’re not going to under­stand olive oil.”

Jenk­ins spe­cial­izes in French Provençal extra vir­gin olive oils, which were on dis­play at the tast­ing, along­side a vari­ety of other Euro­pean oils. Begin­ning with a mild and smooth Arbe­quina from Spain, Jenk­ins insisted that the oils be tasted along with a plate of kumato toma­toes, arugula, a French goat cheese known as Boucheron, rare slices of steak, and acorn fed Hamon Iberico. Each table had a dish of sea salt.

We’re try­ing to pay respect to things that hap­pened a long time ago,” said Jenk­ins, and that’s the way we think about food and cook­ing. We like every­thing to be the old way at Fair­way. We believe in tra­di­tion, in try­ing to pre­serve the ingre­di­ents that belong in our kitchens. We’re old timers. We know that olive oil hasn’t changed for cen­turies.”

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Other extra vir­gin olive oils at the tast­ing included a pun­gent Provençal oil called Moulin des Pen­i­tents, fol­lowed by the Huile d’Olive de Nyons made from the nutty and creamy Tanche vari­etal, and another mildly pun­gent and but­tery Provençal oil called Moulin du Mas des Bar­res. The last two oils came from Fair­way Market’s unfil­tered bar­rel oil selec­tion. The Gata-Hur­des from the north­ern-most sub-region of Extremadura has achieved a cult fol­low­ing with its unique and adap­tive olive vari­etal known as the Man­zanilla Cac­er­ena. The final oil, Cabeco das Nogueiras from Cen­tral Por­tu­gal, was a crowd pleaser.

Jenk­ins stressed, above all, that con­sumers need to know how to spend their dol­lars wisely on fresh, qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. You need to under­stand what sub­re­gion appeals to you, and after you get the geog­ra­phy down then you can begin to think about which vari­etals thrill you the most. You have to be able to get that infor­ma­tion before you can make those choices.”

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