Bold claim, I know- best olive oil in the world. I stand by it. Although I could be biased and I’ll tell you why. As all good stories do, this one starts and ends around the dinner table. I will advise you to stick around for the ending, because I’m going to tell you the one place in the whole, wide world where YOU can obtain the best olive oil In. The. World.
One happy evening, many moons ago, Alan and I were lucky participants in a dinner party hosted by our fairy godmother and her hubby. (I’ve mentioned our fairy godmother around these parts once or twice. Like here and here) The meal was thoughtful and expertly prepared; the wine old, prestigious and plentiful. On this particular evening, homemade focaccia was on the menu and our hostess made her way around the table with a dark green bottle and reverently poured a bright green, gorgeous liquid into little individual bowls for each of us. My curiosity piqued, I dipped my focaccia into this elixir and closed my eyes in rapture. Bright, luscious and fruity, straight from the hills of Tuscany. Hands down the best olive oil I’d ever tasted. No contest. “Oh my goodness. This is amazing. Where can I get some?!?!” I was promptly crushed when the answer was – “You can’t”. At least not until they ship this coming October. I immediately signed up for the email list and I have ordered a case every October since.
Fast forward a couple years and I send a politely worded email to the proprietors of Best Olive Oil In The World, Janet and Stefano, explaining Alan and I are planning a trip to Florence and would they mind terribly if we took a walk through their olive grove to take a few photos. Janet soon replied with an enthusiastic note not only granting permission to visit, but with an offer of a personal guided tour and a dinner invitation to their home. We couldn’t believe our luck.
Florence is an indescribably beautiful, historic and culturally rich city, and I cherished every minute we spent there. But the highlight of our trip was the magical, rainy afternoon and evening we spent with Janet and Stefano and their visiting cousins from America in a small village south of town. We were driven out of city through the rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany to eventually arrive at their workshop. It was the most charming, picturesque workspace you could ever imagine. There were of course modern vats for the oil, but if Gepeto himself had walked out the front door I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.
Onto their beautiful home with wild artichokes growing along the drive and a warm fire dancing in the kitchen. It was the essence of cozy. The drizzling rain outside, a cheery fire, the smells wafting from the kitchen and local wine soon turn the awkwardness of strangers into camaraderie. Alan immediately ingratiated himself by whipping out his pocket knife to pitch in cleaning Favre beans.
I don’t recall every detail of that amazing meal. I remember we started with a salad of said Favre beans and pecorino and ended with Stefano’s biscotti, freshly baked in their outdoor oven-his mother’s recipe. Everything in between was generously drizzled in their beautiful olive oil. I remember watching Janet and Stefano in the kitchen expertly and effortlessly turning out gorgeous dishes. The wine was plentiful and to finish there was Grappa for the men. Mostly I remember simply being intensely grateful for the incredible hospitality and generosity of these lovely people who had given us, complete strangers, the unimaginable gift of an evening in their home. It just goes to show you that people who love food really are the very best people. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and Stefano drove us all back to the southern gate of the city where us visitors went in search of our buses. The buses, as buses tend to do when it is dark, cold and raining, eluded us, but we splashed happily through the puddles, the magic lasting just a little longer and we eventually parted as friends, grateful for the evening we had shared.
This magical olive oil is called Sagittario. If memory serves, it is named such as the olives are harvested under the sign of Sagittarius. Sagittario is also the only olive oil I know of that labels their bottles with the vintage. Olive oil does not age like a fine wine or a good balsamic vinegar. Although it will certainly stay gorgeous for several years. I love that there is no good reason to save the good stuff. Use it now, use it generously and share it with your loved ones.
If you feel the uncontrollable urge to get your hands on a few bottles of Sagiattario, you are in luck. The ordering window is open and I encourage you to click HERE immediately. According to their website, if you order by October 27th, you are guaranteed your shipment before Christmas. In addition to the large bottles pictured above, they also make smaller ones that make lovely Christmas gifts. And speaking of a good balsamic- order a bottle of theirs while you’re at it. It is intensely rich and flavorful, with an almost syrupy quality. I have had this bottle for five years and it’s still half full. It is something I save for special occasions and it’s worth every penny. A few drops on shaved parmesan make for an excellent cheese course, drizzle it (along with the olive oil) on baby asparagus in the spring, or on fruit for dessert It’s a pantry staple. And it would also make a lovely gift. 😉
Click here for a link to a video from the Sagittario website which in addition to giving you the recipe for Janet’s Favre Bean and Pecorino Salad, also offers a glimpse into their gorgeous olive groves and charming kitchen. Happy cooking, my friends.