Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tasting Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This post is sponsored by Zucchi Olive Oil. We received olive oil to sample and were compensated for providing the following review of the products. All opinions are our own. 

You know how exciting it is to roll up to the house and spot a package on the doorstep. Our excitement doubled when we unpacked not one but four bottles of Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, each made with olives from specific parts of Italy, and depending on the blend, sometimes also Greece or Spain. When the olive oil was first delivered, we used Zucchi Sweet & Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil in place of the usual butter in breakfast crepes and then topped them with figs and honeyed yogurt. (Scroll down to see the finished dish.) Oh, my...that's definitely happening again.

This weekend, we made sprouted wheat/white whole wheat bread so we could have a proper olive oil tasting. (We subbed olive oil for vegetable shortening in this recipe.) As the  bread rose and baked and cooled and eventually showed itself to be surprisingly awesome, we began investigating. 

QR codes from the bottles took us to the right place to check the origin of the olive oil on the Zucchi website, where we put in a little info. from the first bottle and immediately saw where the olives it was made from originated. Like wine grapes, olives vary in flavor based on the climate, soil, and conditions in which they are grown, and being able to trace the origin of the oil and see how the blends worked together is interesting.

We then tried all of the olive oils and took individual (secret!) notes before we discussed what we thought. The color didn't vary that much among the four oils, but the taste sure did. Here's how it all shook out, including our personal favorites.

Zucchi Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This one was earthy, super rich, and bold. If you need the flavor of olive oil to be front-and-center in a dish, this is the one. (Because he likes strong flavors, this one ended up being Justin's favorite.)

Zucchi 100% Italiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil: It's made with only Italian olives, but this olive oil was all over the map flavor-wise in the best sort of way. There were many notes that we wanted to pinpoint. It has a bite to it and has more of a savory quality than the other oils we sampled. We picked up on green and fresh and herbal flavors. With its complexity, it would be a good one to use in a simple pasta dish to really make it sing.

Zucchi Sinfonia Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This oil is the assertive, sharp, 'pay-attention-to-me!' sort. There' a definite fruitiness and also a richness to it. Strong in taste but well-balanced.

Zucchi Sweet & Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I really liked this one, so we'll crown it Amy's fave. Smooth, light, and floral, this olive oil was the one that's been used most often in our kitchen. Its flavor is bright but still subtle, and it's the mildest-tasting oil out of all the bottles we sampled.

Thanks to Zucchi for providing us with lots of olive oil to try; hopefully, their products will be available in Memphis soon! We appreciate the company's care for the environment and its commitment to authenticity. As home cooks who had gotten used to buying a huge, rather nondescript quart of olive oil for cooking and occasionally a smaller, finer bottle for drizzling and finishing, this experience impacted our thinking about olive oil as well as what we'll decide to purchase and use in the future.

And here's a fun announcement: We're planning on featuring Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil in at least one of the courses at an upcoming Chubby Vegetarian dinner in Memphis at Char on the evening of Thursday, August 24! Please set aside the date if you'd like to attend, and we'll be sharing more information about it here and on social media as the details come together.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chubby Vegetarian Tour of Concord Farm in Mississippi

See where a lot of the fruit and vegetables we use in developing our recipes is grown these days: Concord Farm in North Mississippi. We love that Amy's dad can grow anything and always is curious to see what we all can cook with the yield. Here, Justin takes you on a tour of what's growing in early July and shows you how this summer's new addition, a flower patch, is doing. At this point, he's in the middle of eating a just-picked tomato like it's an apple:

P.S. If you'd like to see our upcoming cooking demo and preview the new Sprouts Farmers Market in East Memphis on the evening of July 11, please see more details and register HERE.