5 Greek Olive Oils That Will Change Your Life

Food Lists

The benefit of having immigrant parents is that you always have someplace to travel to with free room and board. The benefit of having a Greek father is that the room and board is in a country where the room sits on a forgotten hill that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, and the board consists of exquisite food.

As a child, I didn’t speak Greek, and my father’s sister, Thia Litsa, spoke almost no English. Regardless, I would spend the day with her in her kitchen, and we would cook together. Traveling opens the palate as well as the mind, and I was inundated with the scents of oregano, cumin, and olive oil. When I first saw the cuisine, it looked amorphous and unappealing. The food isn’t plated with the boundaries I was used to. It took my Thia three days of convincing me to eat pastizio (think Greek lasagna). When I finally did, I was hooked. Pastizio was my gateway to Greek food; soon I was devouring all I could: gigantes, papoutsakia, yemistes. I would giggle at the comically copious amounts of olive oil Thia Litsa would layer in between sheets of filo to make baklava. I soon learned the word pio poli (more), for when I would pour the oil, she would keep repeating it like a drunk at a bar.

The olive oil she uses comes directly from the hills of olive groves behind her house. This oil is so good, it can change the taste of any dish. Whether on plain bread, pasta, or rice, the flavor of the oil is what brings the food to life. At the end of these summers, my father would sneak jugs of her olive oil through customs.

Finding such fresh, artisanal, delicious olive oil this side of the Atlantic is not easy. But luckily, there are entrepreneurial Greeks that bring the bounty of the small farm stateside. All these oils come from local family farmers who have been producing olive oil throughout their family history (some as long as the 1600s), and have recently started selling it abroad (thank you, internet).

Needless to say, all the olives oils listed are EVOO (that’s slang for “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”) and have low acidity due to highly attentive extraction methods.

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Kaldi Olive Oil

Extra virgin Kaldí olive oil is made from handpicked Kolovi and Adramytiani olives on the island of Lesvos. This golden oil has hints of grass, hay, artichokes. The peppery after taste makes it an olive oil that is good enough to standalone. Kaldí offers both an organic and non-organic oil, as well as their tomato based cooking sauces. Kaldi olive oil can be purchased online, and in select stores across the United States.

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Biosphere by Noos Trade

From the Messenian land, BioSphere is an organic extra virgin olive oil made available by Noos Trade. Made from the Koroneiki olive, the condiment evokes the herbal and fruity flavors of the Greek landscape.

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Eirini Plomariou

Eirini Plomariou organic EVOO is made in Plomari-Lesvos. The family farm also offers other sweet delights: honey, bed and breakfast, as well as agritourism. Myrta Kalampoka, the matriarch of the family, teaches her guests how to put her olive oil to good use through hands on cooking lessons. If you want to cook fish, her husband Nikos will take you fishing. If you just want to taste there olive oil without having to buy a plane ticket, visit their website.

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Euphoria Olive Oil 

Appropriately named Euphoria, this EVOO comes from the southern Peloponnese, near Kalamata. Also made from the Koroneiki olive, this oil boasts a robust flavor and a peppery aftertaste. Euphoria began selling its bottled delight in the U.S. 40 years ago, and can be found online and in select gourmet stores.

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Located in the Northeast of the Peloponnese in the village of Agios Vasilios, Tagaras EVOO is made from the Manaki olive. The olive has limited growth, and is distinguished by a unique buttery flavor. Irrigating the groves only by rainfall, the farmers sacrifice high production for high quality. The family farm also produces Greek oregano, hand harvested Aegean island sea salt, Greek saffron, and Greek bottarga. Purchase their items in the various stores listed on their website or check their website for their forthcoming e-shop.

Follow Madina on Twitter @MadinaPaola.

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