The very civilized Armando Manni brought his Tuscan olive oil to Toronto today to an audience of chefs, food writers and wine types at Pangaea restaurant. The Italian filmmaker started producing the oil for his son, Lorenzo; he cherishes the oil as if another child.
The presentation, orchestrated by Josh Josephson, Cookbook Store owner and gastronomic fetishist extraordinaire, featured a vertical tasting of one of Manni’s two oils, “Per me”. Tasting olive oil is much like tasting wine, but with the glass heated in hand to bring out the aroma, and you don’t have to spit ;-) The 2002 vintage showed fresh ripe olive and green leaf aroma and taste, followed by a long finish of pepper and basil. The 2003 was much more bitter and hotter (pepper), the flavour lingering for over an hour (might have been longer, but I got home and had some more). (Thank you, and Happy Birthday, Josh!)
The final phase of the tasting involved a chocolate and olive oil combination, the significance of which eluded me (though they're both kind of bitter). I believe it had something to do with the polyphenols cutting the fat in the cocoa butter. The combination was reminiscent of cocoa with artichokes. Far more satisfying was pastry chef Joanne Yolles’ sponge cake with Manni olive oil and Sauternes. The Sauternes got lost, however the character of the oil remained surprisingly intact!
Signor Manni recommends simple preparations such as pasta tossed with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano, or just drinking the oil plain from a spoon. His oils are showcased at some of the world’s highest-profile restaurants, including Charlie Trotter’s, The French Laundry, Jean-Georges and Troisgros. They are available for purchase by anyone prepared to order a case of 5 gift boxes (each containing 2 – 100ml bottles, for a total of 10 bottles per case). Only available on Manni’s web site, Price: €200 (approx. $325 Canadian)
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