I love olive oil. I want to be olive oil. I want olive oil in and on everything.
I like my olive oil strong and fruity. I want to smell the olives. Most olive oils on the market are way too bland for my taste. I see them advertised as subtle, refined, etc., and I think: For foreigners. Foreigners, meaning people who didn't grow up in an olive oil culture.
In US, I usually get my olive oil at Best Turkish Food, an online retailer in Chicago. They are quick and helpful, and no, I'm not a shareholder.
My go-to olive oil is Tariş Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It's basic, it's inexpensive and it tastes like my childhood. I buy it in large 3 litre cans, but it's also available in 750 ml bottles.
Tariş is moving along with the times, though, and is producing olive oils with different acidities and methods of processing, along with organic olive oils, and terroir olive oils (they don't call it that, but these are specific to small geographic regions, like terroir wines). Very fancy. Very boutique. And priced accordingly.
I was curious about these different kinds and decided to try some, in spite of the prices. So I got a bottle of İlk El (literally, 'first hand'). Pretty bottle, pretty colour, expensive ($34 for a 500 ml bottle - ouch.)
I wanted to make sure I tasted it without interferences, so I made a simple lunch for myself with Crave Brothers ciliegine (very small mozzarella balls), tomatoes, and roasted walnuts. Drizzled it with İlk El, and dug into it accompanied by homemade sourdough whole wheat bread.
Bland, no character, for foreigners. I don't begrudge Tariş aiming some of its production for export. Look at all those best-selling Italian olive oils, most of which are blander than bland. (I have actually heard Americans complaining about olive oil that's 'too strong.' Wha?!!) So good for them. But not for me. I should've known better, of course. İlk El's acidity is less than 0.5%. Really fruity olive oil tends to have a higher acid content. My usual Tariş Extra Virgin is 0.8%.
One might generally want to be a bit stingy with such expensive stuff, but I'm pouring it all over everything, trying to use it up as fast as I can. And I'm trying not to feel guilty about sauteing salmon in $34 olive oil.
I also bought a bottle of Erkence, another boutique olive oil, and I'll report on it when I start using it. But I have a feeling I'll soon stop these experiments and go back to the old, iconic labels without fancy packaging. If they survive, of course.