My favorite olive oil store in Florence.
I went by there again today. Do you have a favorite store or street? Shops you like to walk by---because for some reason it just makes you feel good? There are many days, while living here in Florence, that I find myself taking a 'random' 30 minute walk. But just like reading sites online, ordering from a menu or driving from A to B... routine happens. Familiar develops. And it is comforting... and can sometimes conjure that quintessential, knowing smile. So it is with my favorite pattern of steps; if I go for a walk and let my feet lead me, I will tour west from my apartment (near Santa Croce), through Piazza Signoria, toward the Ponte Vecchio, then hang a quick right on Santo Spirito Apostoli---a street I love. There are little places to eat meats and cheeses, cafes for a quick macchiato, a macellaria (butcher), some beautiful buildings, my favorite 'olive oil store' and a window or two of interesting art and antiquities that are consistently 'interessant.'
This time I spent 20 minutes in the store browsing---and on a cold January day when I was the only patron---was treated to a bit of serendipitous olive-oil tasting. Four spoon-fulls later, I selected an oil from La Torre (www.aziendaagricolalatorre.it). This time of year (Oct-Jan) is brilliant timing for new oil. Olives are pressed starting in October and into December. So the oil is just-pressed in these first few months. (By late summer, the oil is considered 'old' and used for cooking. Then people salivate while anticipating the ripening olives once again, come fall. This seasonal stuff is addicting). This olive oil shop carries some-odd 25 different olive oils, mostly from Tuscany but as the year plods along, adds more oils from all over Italy.
Which means happiness for me. I get to try olive oil from all over Tuscany, all over Italy, and pay attention to flavor profiles and new versus old... mountains versus sea... The gentleman at the store informed me that olive oil from the north part of Italy is frequently delicate and light (think mountains and shorter seasons), oil from Tuscany is very flavorful and poignant, and olive oil from southern Italy is known to be fruity and robust (hotter and longer summers, later pressings)... And so my affection for olive oil continues...
When I was about to buy, he informed me there are 'light/delicate' olive oils, medium olive oils and spicy (piccante) olive oils. I chose a grassy oil with a bit of a bite (considered 'medio'). Oh yes, the picture. I also bought a nice balsamic from Modena. Oil and vinegar... need I say more?