From 1999 to mid-2008, my wife, Carolyn, and I had the amazing opportunity to rent a home on a 40 acre olive farm overlooking Florence (Italy). The house was started in 1380 and completed in 1420. It was renovated in the late 1990s, and we were the first permanent human occupants since 1953 – the mice, ants and ghosts having been there while it was vacant….
During our tenure, Carolyn earned a Master of Wine Certificate from Slow Food University, and I did the same in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
When we returned to the USA in 2008, we were so pleased to see familiar labels on bottles of extra virgin olive oil at the local supermarkets. But the first bottle we bought tasted awful. So we took it back. And the second. And the third. That’s when we began to investigate what was going on…..And we learned that the USA was not – and still is not - a member of the International Olive Oil Council.
What did this mean? Well, if an oil produced in Europe failed the EU standards to be labelled “extra virgin,” it could be – and clearly was being! – shipped to the USA and labelled Extra Virgin (EVOO). And most Americans were none the wiser.
Unfortunately, most Americans have never tasted “the real thing,” so, when they do, they find the taste quite different. Worse yet, the so-called EVOOs have little or no health benefits- just 120 calories per tablespoon and 14 grams of fat.
We wanted both the taste and the health benefits, so I began to import some large tins of oil from friends in Tuscany. We love to entertain, and, as we made new friends in our new home in Georgia, they also wanted real EVOO, like they were tasting at our house.
I began to teach classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Georgia and at local gourmet shops and restaurants. In fact, I’ve taught more than 1000 folks over the years. And many of them wanted to buy great EVOO. Because the oil I was importing was high in polyphenols and oleocanthel (the 2% of the EVOO containing the health benefits), several friends began to take a tablespoon or so each morning and, over a period of months, their cholesterol counts began to drop.
My friend, Francesco Leonardi, a 4thgeneration maker of balsamic vinegar products in Modena, heard about my importing oil, and he suggested I bring in his high-quality products as well. It made sense to me! So today, we import over 80 Balsamic Vinegar based products under the REALE label.
Because of the proliferation of fruit flies in Tuscany, we decided to look for other EVOOs that had great taste, great health benefits, but not the likelihood of flying pests we were seeing in Tuscany. At Vinitaly, I tasted about 100 EVOOs in blind tastings. I narrowed the field to 10 oils and asked to re-taste those. Of the 10, three were from the same producer: Agraria di Riva del Garda.
It is not logical that superior EVOO could come from the 46thparallel - way too far north. However, the soft breezes coming from the south, across Lake Garda, get trapped by the leading edges of the Dolomite mountains and create a micro-climate. One that is ideal for growing olives. And where olive oil has been produced for some 2,000 years.
Because I love good EVOO and the great health benefits it contains, I’m known as the Oilvangelist. I hope to convert you to the love of and use of true EVOO, the truly unique olive dust – ULIDEA - and the great Balsamic products imported by Uncommon Gourmet Associates, LLC.
ULIVA EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FROM RIVA DEL GARDA WON THE GOLD METAL AT THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL OLIVE OIL COMPETITION IN JANUARY 2018 AND RECEIVED A 98 OUT OF A PERFECT 99 RATING BY FLOS OLEI, 2018, A GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.
Once your customer taste these uncommon good products, you will have a customer for life,
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