The art of pairing, a world waiting to be discovered.

In order to pair a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it is essential to have a good one, this is, a Virgin Olive Oil irreproachable in colour, aroma and flavour. Later, to obtain quality pairing and combine them in their complexity, it is important to have oils with shades that differentiate one from another, in such a way that their addition to different dishes provides a subtle transformation in flavour, aroma and even colour.

The art of EVOO pairing is based on the previous knowledge of their tasting, managing to identify distinctive features, mainly based on their attributes: aroma, burning aftertaste, bitterness, taste and intensity. On the basis of this criterion and the book «Manual de Cata y Maridaje del Aceite de Oliva» («Handbook to Olive Oil Tasting and Pairing»), we can distinguish the following characteristics:

• Delicate Fruit Oils: Smooth Fruit with subtle aroma and taste

• Sweet Smooth Fruit Oils: With a very low aroma intensity, and very smooth aromas, bitterness and burning aftertaste. They are called «sweet» because the presence of bitterness and burning aftertaste are almost imperceptible.

• Delicate Medium Fruit Oils: In this kind of oils the fruity taste is easy to identify, appreciating hints in them, with a subtle presence of spicy finish and bitterness and a smooth astringency

• Bitter Medium Fruit Oils: The fruit involves a high intensity, with shades in the aromas that, for an expert, may be useful to identify different features; in this kind of oil the bitterness and spiffy finish are present, and they must be taken into account to pair them with certain food.

• Harmonic Complex Fruit Oils: The complexity of the aromas is palpable, these are elegant oils that fuel imagination in their pairing, emphasizing fruity, herbal and floral aromas; with balanced, medium- intensity bitterness and spiciness, their pairing application is a little bit more complex.

• Bitter Complex Fruit Oils: A very intense kind of oil in every aspect; as their name says, they are complex oils, usually balanced, with a very high intensity of fruit, bitterness and spiciness. The application of these oils in a recipe may be decisive so that the dish is exquisite or does not comply with the cook’s desired goals.

Pairing possibilities in different dishes with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil are endless, to give a practical example:

• For the Delicate Fruit and Sweet Smooth Fruit types of oils: They usually pair brilliantly with dishes where fine raw materials steal the show: red meats with a good P.O.D., fresh fish, fine seafood, where diners need to discover the intensity of such raw material; combined with a good raw EVOO of these characteristics, its only mission is highlighting food itself, barely noticing the accompanying Extra Virgin Oil.

• For the Harmonic Complex Fruit and Bitter Complex Fruit types of oils:  If we intend to highlight the preparation of the dish, together with a good raw material, these oils are the best option; their complex aromas and intensities make that a good use of bitterness, together with floral or herbal shades of these oils, match perfectly, for example, with roasts with aromatic herbs or elaborated salads, vegetables prepared in a frying pan, spicy sauces, etc.

The best thing about pairing with a good Extra Virgin Olive Oil is that, whether if you get the desired taste or not, you will always get it right!!  Because its healthy properties cannot be beaten.

Javier Salgado.



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