Britain is still in love with extra virgin olive oil it seems, but not at any cost. A report this week from market analysts Kantar Worldpanel shows shoppers bought almost 5% more over the year, but sales for brands like Napolina, Don Mario, and Filippo Berio slid, thanks to the premiums’ average price rise of 16%. People are turning to own label versions, and, while some of those lack flavour, others are fine.
Cost-wise, it makes sense to have two or three oils on the go at once – a cheaper variety for basic dressings and frying and a more expensive one for that final drizzle.
The oil I want to dip my bread in, or use to finish off a dish, is highly aromatic but with the freshness of newly cut grass.
The oil I drizzle over a simply cooked bit of fish is, similarly, smooth, velvety, fresh and balanced.
The oil I use for everyday dressings, on the other hand, is less grassy and aromatic, and more one-note: punchy flavours can be brought in from garlic, honey, mustard, and salt.
Perk up cheaper oils by infusing them – gently heat some oil with a long, shaved strip of lemon or orange rind, and let it sit for a few hours before drizzling over a salad or sweet dish.
Chilli flakes, sprigs of rosemary, and sage leaves also work very well. The better performing supermarket oils in my blind taste test will work well for this.
The premium brand
Lots of body, good round flavour, heading towards grassy: a nice sweetness