Arcimboldo’s Summer

Arcimboldo’s Summer
Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593) was the master of these pre-surrealist paintings of figures formed of grouped objects (not always food).

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sainsbury’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I'm continuing my quest for the finest budget extra virgin olive oil. Recent notable purchases from Asda and Lidl were both well under three quid a litre, so when I splashed out £3.85 for a litre bottle of Sainsbury's own brand extra virgin olive oil, it felt like an almost obscene act of profligacy.

But the Sainsbury's extra virgin is a classy product. There is a wrapper around the lid which you have to peel away, like on a bottle of wine. And once you remove the screw top you find there is a  plastic pull-top seal which you have to remove before you can pour the oil. This has to help protect the freshness of the product. And the bottle is made of dark green glass, which also helps, by cutting down on the degradation caused by light reaching the oil.

So what did it taste like? Well, it is delicious — with an intense, pleasant, aromatic bitterness. It is much sharper, and to my taste, more appealing than the excellent and rather buttery Asda extra virgin.

I'll have to compare it with Lidl's Primadonna as well. Once I've arranged a blind tasting of the three oils I will report back. In the meantime I am going to go in search of other extra virgin olive oils for £4 or less. Coverage of products on the internet is so poor for all the major supermarkets that the only way to really find out what they sell is to visit a large branch. 

So I need to investigate Tesco's and Morrison's and perhaps even Waitrose, though they are probably too posh and expensive to meet our price point. My spies have only been able to find ordinary (non extra virgin, non mechanically extracted) olive oil at Audi's, which is odd because at Lidl's, in contrast, they only sell extra virgin. One day I'll have to try the more expensive Italian-only extra virgin oil at Lidl. But at well over five quid a litre that will have to wait another and more affluent survey.

But back to Sainsbury's extra virgin. This is a strong contender for the best tasting of the budget supermarket olive oils. I love it. Keep up the good work, folks.

(The Sainsbury's oil bottle shot is from My Supermarket. Regretably, I couldn't find a suitable photo on Sainsbury's own website. The Asda shot is also from My Supermarket, although it's an out of date image — as far as I can tell, it's the only one available.)

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