Review: Trader Joe's olive oils
koppie — Thu, 08/04/2011 - 10:20
We happened to have three different olive oils in the house. One from Spain, one from Italy, and one from California. So what's a guy and gal to do?
First up is the reigning champion: Trader Joe's California reserve olive oil. We've been buying this oil for several years now because it's the best oil I've tasted outside St. Helena. It has some complexity and a little bit of bite, but doesn't have that grassy flavor like many strong olive oils. Last year they changed the label because it's a new vintage. This year the oil is milder, but still has the wonderful flavor we love. It's mild enough for everyday use but strong enough that you know you're getting something special. Usually we have one bottle of oil in the house, and this is it.
But Yelena's recently gotten on an organic thing, so she's not buying the California reserve any more. The challenger: Trader Joe's organic, from Spain, and it couldn't be more different. This one comes charging through the barn door, full of flavor with a very strong aftertaste. It's over the top and full of that grassy taste. To be honest, it's too much. We won't be buying this one again.
But wait - a spoiler! Jumping into the ring is an oversized bottle from Costco! Yes, that's right, Costco olive oil has a place in this fight. I happen to know that Costco's generic brand olive oil comes from a small artisan olive orchard in central Italy, neary Tuscany. I have relatives who tasted it from the source, and the owner confirmed that it's her oil in the Costco jugs. So, how does it stack up?
Well. Very well, in fact. It's light, but still has some structure, with a floral scent and fine taste. Reminds me of the Trader Joe's California reserve, to be honest. We only got the Costco oil for a family member who likes to cook in our kitchen and uses way too much oil, but now that I realize how good this stuff is, I'll be using it myself.
It's a tie between Trader Joe's California reserve, and Costco. They're very similar, both work well for cooking or tasting, with fantastic flavor.