Bottle number 1, number 2 or number 3?

I use one olive oil. That’s it. It’s true that I either have to fly to Italy and carry it back or buy it at my one source (Fairway Market) in NYC to get it, but it has fundamentally changed my cooking. It is the first thing that hits the pan, and the last thing to be drizzled over the top, and touches everything in between. Why buy the freshest fish or a beautiful can of San Marzano tomatoes and then an oil that you could grease your car with?
To know your oil, taste it. Pour a drop into a tiny glass with a flat thin bottom, swirl the oil around to release the aromas, warm it buy covering the cup with your hands, and then take a tiny sip with a little air sucked in, and taste what you taste. If it is a within a year old, it should give you a bite of pepper, the taste of fresh grass and the fruit of the olive. After a year it will mellow, but will always be pleasant tasting. It should leave your mouth feeling clean, never greasy, and the aroma should flower in the upper reaches of your nose, not sink somewhere around your nostrils.
There is only one thing that determines the quality of an oil–the chemical analysis. An oil made the way it should be, the trees properly pruned, the olives picked at the perfect moment–half green, half black–stored in well ventilated baskets, pressed within a maximum of three days–but preferably less–at a temperature that does not exceed the limits for cold pressing are all critical for success. The olives should pass their days before picking on well ventilated hills, the soil slightly sandy, and a climate that is not too intense or too humid. Extra Virgin olive oil must have an acidity level below 0.80%. There is really no such thing as a second pressing anymore. A very good extra virgin should read somewhere between 0.13% and 0.18% acidity. That is your guarantee.
After our lesson last night at Villa La Macchia where tradition lies hard and fast, and they dine on the same table they have dined for I don’t know, maybe the last two or three hundred years, because it looked fairly new, we were served roast chicken with grapes and melted onions, and a Tuscan cabbage simmered with vinegar, onion, garlic, a bit of tomato, salt and pepper. For dessert we had a bavarian cream made with fresh ricotta and topped with ruby red pomogranate seeds.

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