Olive oil is one of Italy’s excellences, one of its greatest products and exports. It’s subject to not only plenty of regulations but lots of imitations, as well as a lot of competition from other producing nations.

As a result, Unaprol, the largest association of Italian olive oil producers have decided to promote the knowledge and consumption of the extra virgin olive oil through a  series of events held across Europe.

The “High Quality European Olive Oil” campaign, co-funded by the EU and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, aims to raise awareness on the unique qualities of olives and olive oi,  their nutritional benefits, their flavour and the theme of the healthy Mediterranean diet to encourage their use over other traditional fats.

In the UK, the campaign, ran from the first week of November to the first week of December across 40 restaurants,Foodepedia was invited to the gala dinner that concluded the various events held in London’s Osteria dell’Angolo. The event was attended by industry professionals, media and food enthusiasts.

Over a glass of Italian Prosecco, we were introduced to the three olive oils that were showcased in dinner, each used in one of the 3 courses: OLITALIA, OL.MA. and Redoro.

The starter was an abundant, creamy risotto with Romanesco cauliflower, salt cod and Olitalia. The oil on this dish added an aromatic edge, the saltiness was provided by the cod, and the rice was rightfully al dente, although we’d have preferred the Romanesco to be more flavourful.

The risotto was followed by a tender rib eye steak, delicately grilled, with potato, cherry tomato, rocket sauce and aged balsamic vinegar. Here the oil was Terre Alte, and added at the end to our taste (we had the bottles on the table).

Finally, an interesting proposition by Osteria dell’Angolo chef: an olive oil ice cream with caramelised rosemary shards, served on’crostino dolce’, which was nothing other than a toasted slice of sourdough which, however good quality, did not really provide a good match to the creamy gelato; a slice of brioche would have probably worked better.

The EVO on this dish was Redoro, from Grezzana, north of Verona. Its olives are harvested by hand, at the right point of maturation; the healthy olives are then selected and brought to the press to be milled the same day in order to produce the final product.

All the oils we tried testify how an authentic, excellent extra virgin olive oil can be used in many ways during a meal, and how it can be enjoyed and consumed in its natural, raw state to fully experience its beautiful flavours. It is definitely worth investing in good quality extra virgin olive oil.