The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Olive Oil

Broc's picture

Olive Oil

Dear Folks!

My olive oil buying has been limited to my local grocery store which has "name brand" olive oils.  Would someone direct me to a place where I can buy some nice, buttery olive oil at a reasonable price?

Sure would appreciate it!

~ Broc


LindyD's picture

We're pretty helpful here, but I can't attest to the level of clairvoyance as to your location.

flournwater's picture

Some of the best olive oil in the world comes from California.  You can order it on line if you don't have a local outlet for quality olive oil.  Do you have a "World Market" in your region.  They have very high quality goods.

P.S.  Sorry, where I wrote "World Market" I meant also to include "Whole Foods".

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

The best olive oil I've found that's generally available in supermarkets is Lucini from Italy.  I think it's pretty good.  Fruity, herbacious, nutty.

California Olive Ranch "Arbequina" is even better and is found at most of the better (higher-end local, not national chain) markets here on the west coast if you live in or near a metropolitan area.  This is an excellent domestic olive oil.  Even the best olive oils don't conjure up butter to my taste, but this one could be described as "buttery".

We can find our other favorites only online. 

I don't use any of these for cooking as the heat destroys the flavor.  For cooking, I'm satisfied with Kirkland or Trader Joe's.


mrfrost's picture

They also did a comparison of California oils. They said the California oils "rival" the best of the imported oils.

"You get what you pay for with most supermarket extra-virgin olive oils: bland, bottom-of-the-barrel, and boring. Is there a brand worth buying?"

Product Tested Origin Price*
Highly Recommended
Columela Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Our favorite premium extra-virgin olive oil from a previous tasting, Columela is composed of a blend of intense Picual, mild Hojiblanca, Ocal, and Arbequina olives. This oil took top honors for its fruity flavor and excellent balance. Tasters praised its "big olive aroma, big olive taste" with a "buttery" flavor that is "sweet" and "full," with a "peppery finish." One taster said: "It's very green and fresh-like a squeezed olive." Another simply wrote: "Fantastic."

Spain $19 for 17 oz
Lucini Italia Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Tasters noted this oil's flavor was "much deeper than the other samples," describing it as "fruity, with a slight peppery finish," "buttery undertones," and a "clean, green taste" that was "aromatic, with a good balance." "It has the flavor that some good EVOOs have," said one admiring taster.

Italy $19.99 for 500 ml ($39.98 per liter)
Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Virtually tied for second place, this oil was deemed "round and buttery," with a "light body" and flavor that was "briny and fruity," "very fine and smooth," and "almost herbal," with "great balance." "Good olive flavor. I could smell it and taste it," approved one taster. In a word, "pleasant."

Italy $17.99 for 750 ml ($23.98 per liter)
Recommended with Reservations
Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A clear step down from the top oils, tasters noted "overall mild" flavor and "very little aroma," with only a "hint of green olive" and a "hint of spiciness at the end." In pasta, it was initially "not complex," but gradually "bloomed in your mouth." Overall, it was "worthy of a second bite."

Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia $12.49 for 750 ml ($16.65 per liter)
Recommended with Reservations
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

While some tasters found this oil "sweet" and "buttery" with "medium body" and "slight spice at the end," others complained that it had "zero olive flavor" and was "so floral it's almost like eating perfume"; still others noted a "bitter" aftertaste. In pasta, it was "extremely mild" to the point of being "boring."

Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia $10.99 for 750 ml ($14.65 per liter)
Recommended with Reservations
Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Comments: The best comments tasters could muster were "mild" and "neutral." Some liked it on pasta (though one called it "Snoozeville"), but complaints were myriad: "metallic," "soapy," "briny," "hints of dirt." Carped one taster, "I can't imagine what is in here, but they have a nerve calling it EVOO."

Spain $13.99 for 1 liter
Recommended with Reservations
Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Comments: While some tasters called this oil "mild" and "smooth," others found it "thin, greasy" and "not very interesting." "I bet the cooking water had more olive flavor," speculated one taster; "could be canola-it is so bland," mused another. A few noted an objectionable aftertaste that was "soapy, chemical" or "menthol-think

Spain $9.99 for 473 ml ($21.12 per liter)
Recommended with Reservations
Botticelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

While a few tasters liked this "potent" oil, others said they detected "mushroom," "rotten walnuts," "a Band-Aid wrapped in a cherry blossom," and a quality that was "downright medicinal-Triaminic, anyone?" Several deemed it "overpowering" and "musky," with a "rank, off-flavor." "Tastes not like olives but like the armpits of olive laborers," shuddered one.

Italy $10.99 for 1 liter
Not Recommended
Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Cyprus, Morocco, and Syria Comments: "Nothing remarkable here-just greasy, no flavor," summarized one taster. "Where did the olive go?" said another. This oil was judged to have a "kind of rancid" aftertaste that was reminiscent of not only "soil," "tree resin," and "ammonia and grass," but even "kitty litter smells" and "a set of sweaty hockey pads."

Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Cyprus, Morocco, and Syria $10.99 for 750 ml ($14.65 per liter)
Not Recommended
DaVinci Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Although this oil won top place in a previous tasting, because olive oil is an agricultural product, it can differ from year to year. This time, tasters found it "washed out and muted," if "nice, in a totally bland and unremarkable way." Tasted plain, objections ranged from "insipid, with no real complexity" to "tastes like EVOO mixed with vegetable oil."

Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, and Turkey $17.99 for 1 liter
Not Recommended
Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Origin: Spain, Italy, Greece, and Tunisia Comments: "Boring" and "not very complex," this oil came across as "plastic-y and industrial; some hint of olives, but it fades quickly." Tasters identified off-flavors that were "unpleasant, dirty," "like rubber and metal, with a sour aftertaste," or at least "a bit funky," with a "strange taste" that was "spicy, but in a motor oil kind of way." One simply wrote, "Blech."

Spain, Italy, Greece, and Tunisia $11.99 for 750 ml ($15.99 per liter)


mrfrost's picture

California growers have spent the last two decades developing extra-virgin olive oils that might rival the best of Europe. Is it time to stop importing foreign oil?

Product Tested Olive Price*
California Olive Ranch Arbequina

This oil by North America's largest olive oil producer came in just a fraction of a point behind our imported favorite (Columela), winning out over other California oils with a similar profile: full, fruity olive flavor and little bitterness or pungency. "Lovely, nutty, and fruity," with notes of "lemon," "vanilla," and "honey." "Quite buttery and round and almost sweet," tasters raved. "The aftertaste is fresh, pure olive."

Arbequina, unfiltered $13.97 per half liter
Sciabica's Sevillano Variety Fall 2008 Harvest

"Green, pungent, and moderately bitter," agreed tasters. "Tastes like it's fresh," with a "spicy, peppery aroma and a buttery aftertaste" and notes of "fennel/licorice," "green apple," and "green grass"; flavors are "harmonious" and "balanced," "surprisingly sweet," "like fresh peas." "Smells like sun-warmed hay, very clean and soft." One taster simply wrote: "Olive-y goodness."

Sevillano, unfiltered $26.60 per half liter
Pacific Sun Tehama County Blend

A blend of mild, late-harvest Mission olives with peppery, early-harvest Ascolano olives, this oil impressed tasters as "buttery, not bitter at all," "not pungent" but "mild," "smooth," "floral," like "roses," with a "fruity aroma" and notes of "passion fruit, pineapple," and "melon" with a "nutty" finish, "like walnuts." "Nice flavor, more complex than most."

Mission and Ascolano, unfiltered $12 per half liter
Lucero Ascolano

"Unusually fruity," this olive oil "tastes like olives in a fruity, rounded way." Tasters found it "apple-y and fresh, with a peppery kick" and "strong," with "cut-grass," "clover," or "grapefruit" notes. "Tastes like it smells." One summed it up as "slightly too bitter, but perfectly balanced potency."

Ascolano, unfiltered $28 per half liter, free shipping for orders $50 and up
Recommended with Reservations
DaVero Dry Creek Estate

"Wow, it sure does taste like fresh olive oil. Reminiscent of green herbs and artichokes. I like it," wrote one happy taster. "Complex and almost zesty," agreed another. Others found this blend of Italian olives too "harsh" and "bitter" in a way that "overpowered the fruitiness" and was "very peppery, sharp, and pungent," though one taster noted, "It grows on you. Bitter at first, but mellows nicely."

Field blend of Leccino, Frantoio, Maurino, and Pendolino, planted at a ratio of 50%, 25%, 15%, and 10%, unfiltered $37.33 per half liter
Recommended with Reservations
McEvoy Ranch Traditional Blend

"Yikes!" "Quite pungent, very bitter flavor, like olive leaves and pits," "like swallowing an M-80 of cayenne," "horseradish strong!" "like fresh ground peppercorns," or "rosemary grass." "Tastes quite young," wrote one taster; "like a peppered apple," "full bodied," and "almost too potent," said others. In sum: "The bitter taste is bullying the fruity one."

Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino, Coratina, and Leccio del Corno, organic and unfiltered $28 per half liter
Recommended with Reservations
Stella Cadente L'Autunno Blend

"Light and fruity," this oil started out tasting "subtle" and "buttery." "Really tame," said one taster, while others remarked on "citrusy" or "lemony" notes. Several were turned off by a "viscous," "greasy" texture and a slightly "musty" smell, as well as a "harsh," almost "sour" aftertaste that was "sharp" and "stays with you." One taster concluded, "Everything in balance but meek and mild."

Leccino, Frantoio, Pendolino, Coratina, and Mission, unfiltered $25 per half liter
Recommended with Reservations
Apollo Mistral Blend

"Extreme peppery kick with a lot of bitterness," "super-green," "very pungent," "robust," and "not for the faint of heart," this "complex" oil had "big fruit and spice," with tasters describing "unripe flavors" and notes of "artichokes," "lemon," "grass," "hay," and "olive leaves." Some tasters picked up off-notes, including a hint of "copper penny" or "gasoline." "Astringent" and (to some) "overwhelming," it was also "vaguely nutty," "like cashews."

Picholine, French Columella, Groussane, and Ascolano, organic and filtered $26.60 per half liter
Recommended with Reservations
Lodestar Traditional Late Harvest Mission

"Spicy yet smooth," this mellow oil was described as either "mild" or "dull," depending on the taster. While some called it "floral" and "delicate," "buttery, almond-y, and nutty," others deemed it "nothing special" or "bland," "like canola oil," "somewhat flat," with "little body, hardly any flavor" and "slight vanilla/cherry notes." "Very surprising that this is extra-virgin," said one taster.

Mission, filtered $17.95 per half liter, free shipping
Recommended with Reservations
The Olive Press Arbequina

Tasters described this oil as having "fruity flavor that was mild and fleeting," with a "really sharp and bitter" finish that was "strong and lasting" and "overpowered the fruity, vegetal" flavors; "just too bitter," "almost inedibly so." One taster summed it up as offering "too little flavor, a lot of bite," though another noted, "too strong by itself, but I love the taste of this oil with bread."

flournwater's picture

Where ever you got that mrfrost, thanks for posting it.  I've made a part of my permanent recipe reference file.

LindyD's picture

While I still have no idea of your location, you could check your phone book for specialty stores selling olive oils and other gourmet foods.  Or ask around.

I live in the boonies, yet there's a shop in the area that specialize only in olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  They have tasting stations for each oil and vinegar, so you know what you're purchasing.

Broc's picture

Thanks all, for your responses.

There is a Whole Foods, here in the Omaha area.  With some suggestions form y'all, I'll take a look-see there.

If there are other, specific suggestions -- Like Ross Perot, I'm all ears!

Again -- Thank you!

~ Broc



asicign's picture

My 'regular' olive oil is the the Whole Foods 360 house brand.  It may not have as much character as some of the brands listed above, but I think it is exceptional for the price.

GTurch52's picture

I swear by Sciabica!  I live on Long Island, NY and I've been ordering from them for years.  Their "Marsala" olive oil is what I use for everything, sauteeing, frying, etc. I usually buy 3 cans at a time.  Their other flavors I use for non-cooking recipes. I also use their flvored oils, especially the orange olive oil, for baking, replacing half of the butter - especially in brownies.  Anyone interested in trying something spectacular, give them a try. You will not be disappointed.


Bertel's picture

Might be a good idea to find a good Californian producer. I live in Italy and make the stuff myself. Good olive oil can be found here but it is not easy so I'd say it would be even more difficult in the US. I tasted Californian and Australian oils and some were indeed very good. For buttery take an oil from the South of France only place in the world where they produce it. Be prepared to pay however. Here in Europe it would cost about 25 to 30 a litre. I know someone sells it direct in the US can't find the address however :-(

Bertel's picture

Maybe someone knows this:


maziej's picture

Check out local markets that cater to the Indian/Lebanese/Pakistani communities and give Al Wazir a try. It was recommended to me by a Syrian friend and then a lovely Lebanese lady, seeing it in my buggy, complimented me on my good sense to buy Lebanese OOl instead of the other choices

I buy 3L in Dallas, Tx for about $25.00. It is beautifully fruity, mild, has a nice bouquet. I use it in everything from Foccacia to salad dressings to sauteeing. My Israeli friend even recommends using it as a treatment for dry hair - I haven't gone that far, yet.


Kobayter Brothers

Head Office Kalamoon - Lebanon

Tel: 6-400505

It may be packed in Malaga Spain


Alexjohn633's picture