Tidbit: Oil Dependency 101

Good morning, class. Today we’re discussing the current state of condiments. Does everyone have their homework assignments? Great. You there — in the back of the class. What did you have to say about your truffle oil tasting?

Yes. Precisely. Well put. That stuff’s a bore, isn’t it? Jumped the shark back when every last chef started pouring it on sub-par french fries, so they could charge $12 for them. (And we all discovered that much of it’s fake anyway.) Ridiculously overrated — especially when we’ve got far more flavorful replacements in our midst. To that point, please direct your attention to what I’m now passing around the room. It’s a line of flavored extra virgin olive oils and balsamics called Fiore, made in Maine, which gets stored in airtight, Italian stainless steel containers until the very last minute before shipping, so it’s pretty much ridiculously fresh-tasting.

They nail the best E.V.O.O.s possible by chasing the crush — i.e., importing it from Tunisia every 6 to 8 weeks directly after the olives are crushed. (E.V.O.O. has a shelf life of 12 to 15 months, but most food markets extend that by about a year, at which point the oil’s flavor softens.) But all that’s only half the story; the rest is the bright, inventive flavors they infuse it with: Persian lime (killer in fish marinades), chipotle, garlic, blood orange (a personal favorite), Meyer lemon, and herbs de Provence (the base for mind-blowing salad dressings).

Now, if you could please focus your attention on these other bottles I’ll be passing around: they’re balsamic vinegars, 15 or so varieties, each imported from Modena, Italy. All are aged (anywhere from 12 to 30 years), which is when the flavors get added. The black cherry is a revelation over a rib eye, the blackberry ginger jacks up the richness of roast pork, and the dark chocolate, drizzled over strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and fresh-cracked black pepper, might just be today’s best lesson of all.

Available at Fiore Artisan Olive Oils, 503 Main St., Rockland, ME, 207-596-0276, fioreoliveoils.com.