I use only extra virgin olive oil, and for the most part, it’s oil from olives harvested nearby. Many chefs don’t agree with me, and save their EVOO (cook’s abbreviation for extra virgin olive oil) for finishing dishes, but I feel strongly that flavor is key and EVOO definitely adds more flavor.
Why two types of oil? I use two different extra virgin olive oils; each brings its own unique taste to foods.
My best oil, the California Late-Harvest Unfiltered EVOO, starts with Manzanillo olives allowed to ripen slowly on the branch long after the rest of the crop has been harvested. Gathered from 100-year-old trees on our Silver Ridge Ranch, these olives produce an oil that’s rich and golden, full bodied yet soft and mellow. This is the oil to use when making bruschetta, or for un filo d’olio — the final drizzle of your best oil that finishes steak, mozzarella, or tomatoes still warm from the garden. Tiny particles of olive give the oil its full taste and translucent appearance; these particles burn so it’s best not to cook with this oil.
The California Filtered Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pressed from three types of olives — Sevillano, Manzanillo, and Mission olives — has a lighter color and fruity flavor that accents foods such as roasted fish or Shrimp and New Potato Spiedini. This is my everyday oil — the one I reach for whenever I pour olive oil into a pan to sauté mushrooms, caramelize vegetables, or sear meats.
Recipe Idea: Shrimp and New Potato "Spiedini"
Bring to a boil in salted water sixteen halves of Yukon Gold creamer potatoes (about 12 oz.). Cook until tender but not soft, about four or five minutes from when the water starts to boil. Strain and reserve.
With eight 8-inch wooden skewers (that have been soaked overnight in water so they do not burn or catch fire on the grill), make the spiedini, alternating two halves of the potatoes between three pieces of shrimp (about 1 1/2 lbs.) on each. Brush a little NapaStyle filtered oil on both sides of the shrimp and potatoes then season with gray salt and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper.
Place the spiedini, cut side of the potato down first, on a preheated, hot grill for about three minutes. Move the spiedini ninety degrees, same side down for another two minutes or so, then turn and continue to cook until the shrimp are cooked, about two or three minutes longer.
Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle some NapaStyle filtered oil over the spiedini, then finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and some fresh chopped basil.
Oil pressed from fresh Manzanillo olives.