Holiday Gift Guide 2020



November 23, 2020

The Best Gourmet Gifts For Foodies
Larry Olmsted

Real, Awesome Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil is arguably the most important ingredient in the gourmet foodie’s pantry, healthy, delicious and the backbone of the Mediterranean diet. Yet it can be surprisingly hard to come by. As I documented in my New York Times bestseller, Real Food, Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating & What You Can Do About It (also a great holiday gift!), the world of olive oil has long been murky and fraudulent and there are many fakes out there. In addition, labeling requirements are very lax so you often can’t tell what kind of olives you are getting, where it is from or when it was made, so the real stuff is often old or past its prime even on the shelves of well-meaning gourmet stores. Finally, while all oil meeting the true legal standard for Extra Virgin should be very good, some are much better than others, to the point of being truly astonishing. I’m always surprised how many otherwise experienced and well-informed foodies have never had great olive oil. I’m obsessed with the stuff, use it almost daily and have two great sources...

Casa de Hualdo is an ultra-premium operation bent on making the best oils in the world, and uses state of the art agriculture and production techniques, even cooling the olives with liquid nitrogen to prevent the typically inevitable flavor loss that occurs when they a warm up during pressing. Their milling facility was award the title of Best in Spain, every bottle is filled with oil pressed no more than 6 hours after picking, which is very fast by industry standards, they pick early for maximum flavor, and as a result, the oils are magnificent. Finally, just like wine grapes, there are a lot of olive varietals, but no one knows them and most bottles don’t say what the use, while many are blends. Casa de Hualdo specializes in 100% single varietal oils, so when you get a gift pack of their four olives (Arbequina, Picual, Manzanilla, Cornicabra) you get four distinct flavors and three intensity profiles (mild, medium, robust). If you don’t want a subscription, just a gift, this is the can’t-miss way to go. Casa de Hualdo sells online, but you can sometimes find more gift assortment options from quality vendors like Spanish gourmet specialists La Tienda or Driana Foods.

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