Olive oil isn’t just for salad dressing anymore. The slippery staple has found its way into everything from cocktails to doughnuts, putting a healthy twist on surprising dishes.
“It just has this amazing versatility,” says Kevin O’Connor, chef and certified olive oil sommelier for Cobram Estate, which grows olives and produces oils in California and Australia.
In honor of National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Dayon Monday, O’Connor shares some surprising places to taste EVOO.
1. Best of the Best Quality Chicken, Falls Church, Virginia
Must-try menu item: Fried chicken
Many folks don’t realize that it’s possible to fry in olive oil, and what’s better to fry than chicken? “You’re getting the benefits of the world’s healthiest cooking fat,” O’Connor says, noting that when ordering fried chicken, “chances are you’re eating trans-fat chicken.”
But this franchise, with locations in more than a dozen states, offers Korean-style fried chicken with a clean, crunchy taste, he says.
More information: bbdotqchicken.com
2. Rad Donuts, Glendora, California
Rad Donuts, Glendora, California: Visitors to this Los Angeles County shop rave about the best-selling zucchini olive oil offering, a surprising update on the Homer Simpson staple. (Photo: Stephanie Nakamoto)
Must-try menu item: Zucchini olive oil doughnut
What happens when you combine fried dough with healthy olive oil? Deliciousness, says O’Connor.
Visitors to this Los Angeles County shop rave about the best-selling zucchini olive oil offering, a surprising update on the Homer Simpson staple. The doughnut is moist, tasting like fresh, sweet zucchini bread.
More information: facebook.com/raddoughnuts
3. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, New York
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, New York: O’Connell recommends the vegan olive oil biscotti chip. (Photo: Credit Van Leeuwen Ice Cream)
Must-try menu item: Vegan olive oil biscotti chip ice cream
Anyone with a sweet tooth should get to know olive oil. And if it seems weird, just remember that olives are actually a fruit, says O’Connor.
“If you haven’t had ice cream made with olive oil, drop what you’re doing,” he says, encouraging doubters. “It’s a beautiful fat that adds this silky mouth feel.”
He recommends the vegan olive oil biscotti chip at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, a Brooklyn-based craft creamery. (They also have ice cream trucks and shops in New York and Los Angeles.)
More information: vanleeuwenicecream.com
4. Marvel Bar, Minneapolis
Marvel Bar, Minneapolis: The bar’s Oliveto is a variation of a gin sour with the addition of olive oil and egg white, which gives it a frothy, almost silky texture – like a lemon meringue. (Photo: Marvel Bar)
Must-try menu item: Oliveto cocktail
Since martinis already have olives, adding olive oil to cocktails is the next logical step, O’Connor says. “It creates this awesome mouth feel that makes liquor more digestible and consumable. It’s a cool ingredient to pair and play with.”
For example, the bar’s Oliveto is a variation of a gin sour with the addition of olive oil and egg white, which gives it a frothy, almost silky texture – like a lemon meringue.
More information: marvelbar.com
5. Bufalina Due, Austin, Texas
Bufalina Due, Austin, Texas: It may be known for its pizza, but O’Connor says the stand-out item here is the lemon olive oil cake with fresh strawberries. (Photo: Bufalina Due)
Must-try menu item: Lemon olive oil cake
It may be known for its pizza, but O’Connor says the stand-out item here is the lemon olive oil cake with fresh strawberries.
“When you make a cake with extra virgin olive oil it’s way more moist than it would be with butter or canola. It adds this kind of mild fruitiness,” he explains.
More information: bufalinapizza.com
6. Petite Violette, Atlanta
Petite Violette, Atlanta: Their profiteroles (puff pastry filled with pistachio ice cream) are topped with chocolate sauce infused with blood orange EVOO. (Photo: Michie Turpin)
Must-try menu item: Ice cream filled puff pastry
This combination French restaurant/olive oil boutique takes full advantage of its offerings.
Several menu items play up oil, most impressively the profiteroles (puff pastry filled with pistachio ice cream), topped with chocolate sauce infused with blood orange EVOO.
More information: petitevioletterestaurant.com
7. Wild Love Bakehouse, Knoxville, Tennessee
Must-try menu item: Lemon cake
This wildly popular made-from-scratch bakery does olive oil proud, using it to make lemon cake.
“It’s just a classic, a calling card,” O’Connor gushes. “It’s light and fruity, and the acidity of the lemon goes well with the rich fattiness of olive oil.”
More information: wildlovebakehouse.com
8. Olive Pit, Corning, California
Must-try menu item: Milkshakes
Located in the middle of California’s olive-growing region, this family-owned store and café makes for a perfect olive pitstop. “They sell anything and everything related to olives,” O’Connor says, including … milkshakes?
The 20-ounce soft-serve shakes includes your choice of balsamic vinegars or olive oils in flavors ranging from vanilla to habanero. “It might sound pretty crazy, but the olive oil blends in really, really easily.”
More information: olivepit.com
9. Lively Olive Tasting Bar, Port Townsend, Washington
Must-try item: Oil and vinegar pairings
You can sip and bread-dip your way through a world of flavors at this Puget Sound shop, which sells literally dozens of varieties of vinegars and oils.
The staff will suggest surprising pairings like Vermont maple balsamic with butter olive oil. “You can taste it in different ways you’ve probably never tasted it before,” O’Connor says.
More information: livelyolive.com
10. We Olive & Wine Bar, Reno, Nevada
We Olive & Wine Bar, Reno, Nevada: Try a little of their blood orange olive oil on your gelato. (Photo: WeOlive.com)
Must-try item: Gelato with blood orange olive oil
This small chain of oil-tasting shops not only serves wine, but in Reno, you can also have chocolate and vanilla gelato paired with its blood orange olive oil.
Then add blood orange balsamic, which “takes it to the next level,” O’Connor says. “It’s an awesome Mediterranean experience.”
More information: weolive.com/reno/
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