Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fun, Food, Friends at Food Bloggers Meet for 'Olive Oil in Mediterranean and Indian Cuisine'

August has been an eventful month with 'Celebrations' on my blog and 1st September was quite an eventful day being Daksayani's birthday and Delhi food bloggers and critics meeting for "Olive Oil in Mediterranean and Indian Cuisine", an event hosted by Borges Olive Oil at 19, Oriental Avenue, Shangri-La's Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

The event was attended by Sid of Chef at Large, Deeba of Passionate about Baking, Pamela of Eat and Dust, Anoothi of Indian Food and Travel Guide, Apeksha of Veggigewiz, Rahul Verma of Delhi Street Food and me. The other guest were food critics Marryam Reshii(of TOI n Upper Crust fame), Ritika Samaddar(Nutritionist), Darren Conole(Executive Chef of Shangri-la), and Rajneesh Bhasin(Borges MD ).

I missed the beginning of the session as I was at work and had to miss the serving of Bagna Cauda {also known as hot oil fondue} stirred together by Chef Darren Conole.

The Aioli put together by Darren and Sid was delicious.... have been trying to be a good girl and avoiding cheese but this was just yummy... couldn't stop at one..... The delectable garlicy flavour made it addictive.

Chef Darren showed us how to poach some Chilean sea bass fillets in a flavored olive oil [Warning: doing this in a home kitchen isn't the most cost-effective ;)] However it was the most delectable and flavorful when we had it for lunch served with Catalan vegetable stew..... who knew pumpkins can taste so good and I'd be gobbling down vegetables with equal delight as the fish. His easy flowing banter at the table has us in peals of laughter. He belongs to Melbourne and has spent time working in most South Asian Countries and knew their cuisines His little poppet just won't eat the veggies and lives on yogurt.... Would recommend Little-Food-Junction to everyone whose kids don't eat their veggies.... She's a delight.

The afternoon was spent in the open kitchen with Deeba, Anoothi and Sid rustling up yummies with Olive Oil.

Lunch began with a Panazella, a day old brown bread salad, followed by the Chilean Sea Bass. It's flavors were exquisite and what made it even more yummy was the lovely company. Dessert was scrumptious Olive Oil brownies served with icecream. Recipes are available here.

My experience with Olive Oil was limited to Pastas and Salads as of now[not for long though :) ]. Had made a fresh garden salad with Mangoes, Cucumber, Cheery Tomatoes, Olives and Lettuce. Dressed it with Olive Oil, Honey, Sea Salt, Parsley, Garlic and Pepper.

Since I missed the discussion session, I looked up stuff on the net and thought I'd share a few basics with my readers to clarify some of the jargon around Olive Oil.
Retail grades in IOOC member nations [Source:Wikipedia]
In countries that adhere to the standards of the IOOC the labels in stores show an oil's grade.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. It is used on salads, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
  • Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
  • Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil.
  • Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
  • Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restauraunts as well as home cooking in some countries.
  • Lampante oil is olive oil not suitable as food; lampante comes from olive oil's long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
  • Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. This is obtained by refining virgin olive oils with a high acidity level and/or organoleptic defects that are eliminated after refining. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. Note that no solvents have been used to extract the oil, but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. An obsolete equivalent is "pure olive oil".
Label wordings

The following may be found in olive oil labels:

  • "100% Pure Olive Oil" is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label.
  • "Made from refined olive oils" means that the taste and acidity were chemically controlled.
  • "From hand-picked olives" implies that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen to increase yield.
  • Cold pressed means "that the oil was not heated over a certain temperature (usually 80 degrees Fahrenheit) during processing, thus retaining more nutrients and undergoing less degradation."
  • First cold pressed means "that the fruit of the olive was crushed exactly one time-i.e., the first press. The cold refers to the temperature range of the fruit at the time it is crushed." In Calabria (Italy) the olives are collected in October. In regions like Tuscany or Liguria, the olives collected in November and ground often at night are too cold to be processed efficiently without heating. The paste is regularly heated above the environmental temperatures, which may be as low as 10-15 °C, to extract the oil efficiently with only physical means. Olives pressed in warm regions like Southern Italy or Northern Africa may be pressed at significantly higher temperatures although not heated. While it is important that the pressing temperatures be as low as possible (generally below 35 °C) there is no international reliable definition of "cold pressed".
    Furthermore, there is no "second" press of virgin oil, so the term "first press" means only that the oil was produced in a press vs. other possible methods.
  • The label may indicate that the oil was bottled or packed in a stated country. This does not necessarily mean that the oil was produced there. The origin of the oil may sometimes be marked elsewhere on the label; it may be a mixture of oils from more than one country
What was particularly nice about the event was the frank conversation and knowledge sharing about olive Oil and other culinary delights. Looking forward to such events where learning and fun go hand in hand. Where else do you get a Chef who shares his recipes with joy and reads the quantities from a sheet to be absolutely precise :)

Didn't get to know when the afternoon went by chatting with Chef Darren and all the other guests. It was indeed lovely time spent with friends new and old.

1 comment:

Clinton Jeff said...

Sure looks like you guys have a delicious time ;)