Forget the Holiday Season. Think Olio Novello Season Instead.
While others are excited by the holiday season, a few of us are excited by a whole different season: the olio novello season, the time of year when Italian new-harvest oil starts coming into the country.
When I was in Philly a week ago, I asked the owner of Claudio's when its house-brand, new-harvest oil from Puglia would be arriving. He replied that it had just arrived that morning; it was in the back and, if I could wait 15 or 20 minutes, he'd get me a bottle.
My short wait was rewarded with a bottle of the full-bodied, almost translucent green ambrosia. "You're the first person in the city to get this," he said. "I haven't even had the chance to have any."
When I got back to D.C., I looked around to see what new oils might have arrived here. At Dean & DeLuca, I found some great Frescobaldi from Chianti in Tuscany and a wonderful Olio Verde from Sicily. (Note: I also found an oil with a harvest date of 2007. Shame on them.)
In seeing who has what, I came across a place headquartered in Fairfax that seems to be an online retailer only. It's called olio2go, and along with Olio Verde, it also has the amazing Tenuta di Capezzana. By the way, the lovely new-harvest Tiburtini, from an ancient estate outside Rome, is already sold out at Zingerman's online.
The point is, the season some of us wait all year for has arrived. Usually costing from about $25-$42 (although some go much higher), a liter of what is known simply as "new oil" — so peppery and aggressive and alive and quite unlike the oil once it has settled down in a couple of months — is a special gift for anyone who loves olive oil.
Check out your local stores, because the 2009 Italians (and Tunisians and who knows who else) are here!
Photo by WordRidden via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License