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Review: Carbonell Olive Oil
I have to tell you about Carbonell olive oil — and not just because the company sent me a free bottle. No! I have to tell you about Carbonell olive oil because it is crazy good.
First, a confession. I know as a foodie, I’m supposed to take things like choosing an olive oil very seriously, but I’m mostly lazy about stuff like that. I keep a row of oils and flavored vinegars along my countertop, and I usually just buy — prepare to cringe — our grocery store house brand of extra-virgin olive oil. In my defense, it’s organic and has that nice, peppery taste you’re supposed to expect from “good” olive oil.
But this summer, Carbonell got in touch with me and asked me to try their extra-virgin olive oil. I added the bottle to the row of cooking soldiers, and it languished there until a few weeks ago when I remembered I should try it.
Now it’s almost gone because I find myself reaching for it every time I make a salad. Butter lettuce and scallions with lemon juice and Carbonell? Delicious! Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, za’atar, vinegar, and Carbonell? Heavenly! Salad shrimp with red bell pepper, cucumber, chives, and Carbonell? Luscious.
I’m not even kidding around. The Carbonell web site promises a distinctive taste, and it’s true! It’s different than the other extra-virgin olive oils I’ve used. The flavor is unmistakably olive-y without being overly briny or too sharp. It somehow manages to be both intense and mellow at the same time, and it has a lovely texture: light and silky.
So now I have an opinion about olive oil. Who knew that would happen?!
Carbonell has been produced and bottled in Cordoba, Spain since 1866, and the pretty art noveau lady holding the olive branch on the label is well-known in that country. The story on the web site about how the olives are harvested is quite romantic:
To guarantee the outstanding quality of Carbonell olive oil, the olives must be harvested when they are perfectly ripe. Harvesting olives is a process which has hardly changed over the centuries: the olives are picked by hand or are carefully knocked from the tree using long sticks. The olives then fall onto a soft canvas cloth to stop them bruising. The most important thing about picking olives is to make sure they are not damaged and that they are pressed within 24 hours of being picked.
That makes me want to fly to Spain, put on a flowing, gauzy dress, and sit in an olive grove at sunset, eating olives fresh off the trees.
Back to reality… after picking, the olives are taken to a mill, washed in cold eater, then crushed, along with their pits. The resulting paste is pressed and placed in a large, rotating drum to be spun. This “centrifuging” process separates the lighter olive oil from the heavier moisture, and voila! olive oil… ready to be drizzled with abandon on salads.
You can find Carbonell online at Amazon or offline in grocery stores and even Walmart (!).
The fine print: Carbonell sent me a complimentary bottle of olive oil, but there were no strings attached. If I didn’t sincerely enjoy this olive oil, I just wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.