Pugliese oils get little credit on the international oil scene. The region's reputation is that of a producer of affordable bulk oils. But hidden in the shadows of the huge industrial producers are artisans like the Pellegrino family. I visited their farm a couple of years ago, and I keep coming back to their full-flavored extra virgin olive oil again and again. There's a nose tingling grassiness that adds a depth of flavor to food. It's especially good in spicy pasta dishes or any place you want a really robust olive flavor.
The fall 2011 harvest is outstanding, though not for the faint of heart. The aroma is big and grassy, with notes of fresh herbs and pumpkin. The flavor is deliciously bitter, with a big peppery finish that lingers long after you swallow.