Several years ago, I found myself in a Whole Foods and in the market for a new bottle of olive oil. Staring at the shelves, my eye kept coming back to a this one glorious wax-sealed stoneware bottle with subdued print declaring that it was A L'Olivier, produced in France since 1822. Not one to turn my nose up at nigh-on two centuries of continuous production, I reached for the bottle and didn't really care what the price was. I was certain it would be great.
"You're not seriously buying that are you?" asked my SO-at-the-time. "It's $27.00."
I looked down in the basket to confirm that yes, the price was $27.00. I hesitated, but then responded, "It is spendy, but I don't have a problem with spending that for a half liter of good oil."
She rolled her eyes at me. "You have no idea if it's good oil, though. You're just a sucker for packaging."
"That might be the case,2 but I want to give it a try."
She reached for a bottle that has since cemented itself in my memory as Rachel Ray's EVOO, but was probably something far less problematic. "This will be just as good."
Now, just so you understand, I have a thing about shopping, especially when I'm shopping for something for me. I spent so much time having choices questioned by my mom when I was growing up that I already run a whole series of second guessing and guilt protocols any time I try to make a purchase.3 Add an external voice embodying the dialogue already running in my head and I completely shut down. The result? I put the bottle back on the shelf, and settled on something much less exciting. I didn't stop thinking about it, and it became one of those watershed moments where I knew I had made the wrong decision. The worst thing was that in spite of it, I couldn't bring myself to buy it. For years.
Faux heard this story, and recently brought some home. Having used it a couple of times, I have two things to say... First, it's probably not ideal for cooking since heat takes away from some of the subtleties of the oil. That said? There are plenty of subtleties to the oil. It is fruity, distinctly aromatic, and sports a cool, clean flavor that doesn't linger overlong. Frankly, it's some of the best olive oil I've had.
1I blame Provence.
2In all seriousness, it was beautiful. Practical, too. Stoneware will naturally protect the oil from light and heat, and the seal will keep it from oxidizing.
3This has, incidentally, affected my ability to get a replacement camera.