August 3, 2011

Olive Oil Tasting and {Recipe} Spaghetti Aglio Olio

It is my dream to go to Greece and then Italy one day. To enjoy their pristine blue beaches and also to spend a day or two on their olive oil plantations. I love olive oil and for me, garlic bread with olive oil could be a meal in itself. It is always intriguing to me how each of the olive oils taste and vary by the region in which they are cultivated and the extraction process as well. Some are spicy & pungent, Some fruity with bitter peppery tones and some very delicately fruity.

So, when I got an opportunity to know all about olive oil & taste them, I literally jumped with joy and landed there.

Beautiful Red Roses at the conference..

Olive Oil ready for tasting..
It was an initiative by Oliveitup, a three-year campaign in collaboration with Italy and for promoting European olive oil in India. It organises a series of training activities and information services to disseminate correct knowledge of this amazing product.

See the below pic. it is Mr.Michele Labarile, the tasting expert who shared a wealth of his knowledge about tasting different kinds of olive oil that were put forth in front of us. The procedure is as subtle and similar to wine-tasting. Here is a brief overview for you all -

1) Pour the oil in a small glass and gently swirl in order to release all the aromas.  2) ..smell the oil, first briefly then more deeply. 3) sip a small quantity of oil and try to keep it in front of your mouth between your lower lip and your tightly shut teeth... 4) .. now breathe in through the clenched teeth, first delicately, then more vigorously, so as to vaporise the oil inside the mouth and the sides of the tongues, where the taste buds are... 5) ..then while trying to identify the aromas & flavours, exhale from the nose so that the vaporised oil particles can reach the nasal membrane giving even more precise sensation.. 6) ...once you can a clear taste profile (ranging from being fruity to bittery to peppery), expel the oil!

Phew!, see it is not that easy to taste olive oil and needs a lot of precision & practice. :-)

Mr. Michle Labarile, the tasting expert in action.
Did you know: a diet rich in olive oil (esp extra virgin variety) can strengthen your immune system, reduce cholestrol, prevent many cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure and can have a positive impact on the emergence of diabetes.

I, like many others out there was always under the impression that olive oil is good for no-cook recipes as I was under the impression that it should not be heated to a high temperature. I was so Wrong!!!!. Olive oil has a higher smoking point and for all our Indian cooking needs, it can be comfortably used. Nutritional Expert - Ishi Khosla confirmed that fact during this meet. From then on, I have started to use more of Olive oil and less of processed oils such as vegetable oil & canola oil.

The next big highlight of the whole event was to see the most exuberant celebrity chef on Indian TV - Vicky Ratnani live, in action Yes, the Gourmet Guru himself.

Here are some shots from his cooking demo -

Chef VR mostly uses Olive Oil for his cooking..

Different colors of peppers, finely chopped & ready for use..

Chef VR's very famous "Hathoda", a.k.a Pepper Grinder
Guess what Chef VR made for us? The most unusual combination of flavors which came out so beautifully.

He made Root Vegetable Cutlets with Peach & Bell pepper chutney. Yumm-de-dum :D. Both of them were like match-made-in-heaven and super fantastic.

Root Vegetable Cutlets, ready to be shallow fried.
Of course there was media too in the event and here is Chef VR giving a brief interview - why he loves olive oil over others..

The final dish: this is how it looked. You can see the amazing plating skills of Chef VR in the below shot.

Image Credits: A special thanks to Mads for letting me share the pics above from the olive oil tasting event.

Now, coming to the recipe - Spaghetti Aglio Olio. It is totally Italian-o, as Chef VR says and it is his recipe of course from the show "Gourmet Central"!!!. :-). One bite and you are transported back to Italy. It is simple yet very tasty and if you are a pasta-lover like me, this could be a perfect snack at any time of the day. We were given couple of bottles of Italian olive oil at the conference, So I used them for making this dish.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Recipe Source: VR's show "Gourmet Central". You got to watch this episode on perfect midnight snacking and to see two Vicky Ratnanis cooking for you ;-) 

Serves 1 (which was me of course as Mr.Husband is not a pasta-person like myself)

Ingredients needed:

1 fistful of spaghetti
3-4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4-5 garlic pods, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (you can add more if desired)
fresh parsley, finely chopped


1. Boil water and add salt to it. Add spagetti and let it cook. Note: Watch Vicky video for a nifty tip about how to check if pasta is cooked)

2. Heat pan and add olive oil on a low-medium flame. When it is luke warm, add garlic. Let it simmer in oil for 1-2 mins. Now, add red chilli flakes. Mix and turn off the heat.

3. Drain the pasta and add it to the oil mixture. Mix well and serve immediately.

Simplicity at its best!

I highly recommend everybody to use Olive oil or at least a blend of oils (such an 1:1 proportion of Olive oil & Rice Bran oil, a tip I got from Mads). Oil is a form of fat that goes into our bodies and it is imperative to make sure it is something which increases good cholesterol and decreases the bad.

..and Olive oil does exactly that!!

[UPDATED] - Sending this as an entry to Jayasri's Only Pasta, Pizza and Noodles event, originally started by Pari..

until next time,


  1. looks like u had a whole lotta fun in this olive oil tasting ! VR's recipe with sphagetti has turned out well

  2. Those tiny bottles look so cute..n this is one of my fav pasta,simple n delicious.

  3. Hi siri, wow you people must have had a lovely time, please do send this to my pasta event, and I would like to share an other tip with olive oil, I have oil stocked up all the time in my kitchen and use it in my baking and making pasta dishes, my kids love it, check out this link when you have time

  4. hi siri thank you for this lovely entry


'Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it' ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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