Sunday, May 24, 2009

The lure and power of (Italian) ingredients

First pressed olive oil from Pukara Estate, Upper Hunter Valley, NSW

On a recent trip to Haberfield, I bought some gourmet produce. The most alluring of all was the first pressed extra virgin olive oil from Pukara estate, Upper Hunter Valley.

This very bottle of the first pressed olive oil was from the 2009 year’s harvest. Only 1,500 bottles of this first pressed olive oil are made and sold in a year. My bottle (shared amongst 4 friends) is bottle no. 641.

The oil is to be consumed immediately in order to truly appreciate the essence and taste of this oil.

Can I just say that the oil is beautiful..beautiful…beautiful?

My vocabulary seemed to vanish the minute I placed a morsel of my freshly baked wholemeal bread dipped in this olive oil into my mouth. The alluring yellow-green olive oil is so fruity, its taste so rich that I went straight to heaven and back.

I think I would be contented to have just freshly baked artisan bread with a good first pressed olive oil as my last meal.

Apart from the lovely olive oil, I also bought fresh homemade percorino cheese from the Italian gourmet store. I must say that even for a cheese lover like me, I’m not a fan of this cheese. The texture is squeaky at best; its taste mild.

The Parmigiano reggiano is so much better. A single ingredient has become the versatile topping of many of my lunches and dinners throughout the week. And hey, I could probably do with some freshly made pesto. (Not using my special olive oil though. That would be a waste.)

Last of all, but equally lovely is the Jamon Serrano that Sarah and I bought. Nice texture, without being too dry, salty yet with hints of sweetness. That brought me back to my trip to Spain- also the land of Jamon. Sarah and I used the jamon Serrano in our appetiser- wrapping it with blanched asparagus and grilled eggplant.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Ah…I seem to be a loss for words when it comes to beautiful ingredients..and Italian ingredients for that matter. They can easily transform any and every meal into such pleasure.

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