Guest December 15, 2015

Having lived in Mediterranean countries for close to a decade (Italy, Greece and Spain), I gained a first-hand point of view on the countless benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle. Mind you, I was more focused on the taste of the food than the nutritional aspects of a healthy diet in those developmental years, but fresh ingredients, simplicity in prep work and making use of exceptional extra virgin olive oil defines the Mediterranean diet.

While I still cook with butter (I prefer Irish and French), hardly ever a day passes when I do not cook with olive oil. It is not surprising that 90 % of the world's production of olive oil happens in Spain (45 %), Italy (25 %) and Greece (20 %). Extra virgin olive oil is harvested by careful mechanical methods or the olives are hand-picked (now rare) and the olive oil is pressed out without the need for heat. In other words, additional virgin olive oil is natural and the perfect component to pair with veggies and other food products.

There are various varieties of olives and like wine, each year's harvest produces a slightly different taste. Having sampled hundreds of different olive oils, I have actually discovered that the color of the oil has little bearing on its taste. Italians will suggest that the best olive oils originate from Sicily or Liguria, but both Greece and Spain have some fantastic oils.

We are delighted to feature a California extra virgin olive oil from the Picual olive, which we believe rivals any olive oil from the Mediterranean. It is currently available on Amazon.

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Gourmet Living's Extra Virgin Olive Oil from California gives you a subtle yet somewhat peppery after-taste to flavor your salads and other menu items. Sure, go ahead and pour of California Picual olive oil into a small dish and dip your baguette into the oil and be carried away to your favorite Mediterranean country.

Gourmet Living's Picual olive oil conforms to all International Olive Oil ("IOC") standards and the oil is mechanically drawn out and carefully handled to guarantee that no changes occur to the freshness of the olive oil. This first-pressed oil has free acidity of less than 0.8% and has not gone through and process treatment other than cleaning, separation and filtration.

Olive oil is at the heart of a healthy Mediterranean diet plan. Given its adaptability, olive oil provides that Mediterranean touch to home cooking. Use it liberally on salads and roasted vegetables and it makes a fantastic replacement for butter. An excellent extra virgin olive oil is a versatile and "go to" addition for any home cook.