This is a unique, unfiltered extra virgin organic oil from the rarely visited Sierra de Gredos, the wild, sparsely settled mountain region of Spain not far from the Portuguese border. The oil is made by Mariano Sanz Pech, whose passion for traditional Spanish foods is (in my experience) unequalled.
No pressing is used in the production, so yields are half the commercial norm. Mariano bottles only the “flower of the oil”: that which drips naturally from the crushed olives. As always, it’s unfiltered, leaving it lusciously cloudy in the bottle, my favorite kind of oil. Great on salads, with grilled meats of all sorts or on bean dishes. Better yet, just pour it on a nice thick slice of toasted Farm Bread, sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt and add a couple slices of ripe tomatoes and enjoy the fruits of Mariano's labor.
The current harvest, picked and pressed in fall 2013, has a healthy helping of sediment at the bottom of the bottle - shake it up to get the most flavor. The aroma reminds me of freshly cut grass and bitter greens. The flavor is complex: it starts bright like lemongrass, goes bitter like green banana, and finishes with a slow-building peppery tingle that prickles across my throat. Outstanding.
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Spain in October 2014. Join us for a behind the scenes journey to traditional food makers like this.