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IN THE KITCHEN

AROUND HOME : Olive Oil

October 29, 1989|RUTH REICHL

AUTHOR LAWRENCE DURRELL, in what is undoubtedly the best flavor description of all time, said that olives have a taste as old as water. If you want to know what he was really talking about, you'll want to try oil from olive trees that really are old.

Now you can--the world's most ancient olive oil has just hit town.

Souri olives have been cultivated in Galilee for thousands of years. There were so many olive trees in the region that the Prophet Mohammed dubbed Jerusalem "the City of the Olives." There are fewer trees today, of course, but many of the ones that remain are as much as 500 years old.

None of that may impress you. The oil, however, should. Virgin Souri olive oil--stone-ground, cold-pressed, first-run oil--has come to annoint California cuisine for the first time. Made from olives grown in Galilee, the oil is thicker than the oil we're used to, and it has a taste all its own. It has a bright, robust flavor with a lightly spicy edge that makes it highly prized in the Middle East.

Used in salad dressing, it adds a lot of flavor. It's fine on fish. It cheers up chicken. And why wouldn't it? California cuisine may be new, but in the corner of the world where this oil is pressed, they've been grilling fish and chicken for thousands of years.

Virgin olive oil from The Greater Galilee Olive Oil Co. is about $9.95 for 12.7 ounces. Available at Bay Cities Imports, and Cheese and Pasta, both in Santa Monica; Wally's Liquors in Westwood, and Chalet Gourmet in Los Angeles. Also at Irvine Ranch Market at the Beverly Center and Woodland Hills and at Jurgenson's.

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