Three Denver restaurants feature olive oil from Spain
One of my favorite food reads is Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit, a James Beard Award-winning book by Mort Rosenblum. He compares and contrasts olive oil growing, harvesting and pressing in nearly every country around the Mediterranean. Of course, he researched and wrote it in the early to mid-’90s, when wars, insurrections and unspeakable violence was not yet a face of life in too much of the Middle East and North Africa.
He pointed out then, and it is still true, that Italy clinched a marketing advantage when it comes to olive oil. Many labels read, “Bottled in Italy.” And in truth olive oil producers have often shipped their product to Italy to be bottled. No more. Other countries are not only bottling their own oils but proudly labeling and promoting them.
Olive Oil from Spain is a promotional effort to enlighten foodies about the country’s history of olives and olive oils, methods of production, olive varieties and growing regions. Currently, three Spanish and Mediterranean restaurants in Denver are participating in the first Olive Oil from Spain Restaurant Week through November 18 with special dishes created for the occasion. They are:
Rioja (1431 Larimer Street, 303-820-2282). Spanish Octopus Farfall: Squid ink-piquillo pepper pasta, Basque chilies, piquillo peppers, crisp preserved lemons, gremolata, caper chile emulsion and Arbequina olive oil.
Olivéa (719 East. 17th Avenue, 303-861-5050). Three seasonal menu items are being enhanced with the Arbequina varietal: Baby spicy greens with pancetta vinaigrette, blue cheese, hazelnuts and Arbequina olive oil; Prosciutto, almonds and pecorino with toasts finished with Arbequina olive oil, and baked bacalao, parsley and Kalamata olive salad with toasts finished with Arbequina olive oil.
Ondo’s Spanish Tapas Bar (250 Steele St. #100, Cherry Creek North, 303-975-6514. Wild salmon carpaccio, chervil, Meyer limons, and Hojiblanca olive oil; shrimp and scallop confit with cream of leeks and Arbequina olive oil, and 64% cocoa mousse with date crisps and Picual olive oil.