April 12, 2007 1:20 PM | By Adam Roberts | 30 Comments

Video Podcast: The Olive Oil Experiment


Classic! I've been lurking for a while, but I had to comment on this latest video. Very funny! I agree that not all olive oil is the same, and I tend to keep 2-3 bottles around, and use them for very different things.

hahahahahahaha thanks man that cracked me up....

Haha AG, that's a really good video. I almost thought that the 3rd one you tried would be the Barefoot Contessa one. Pretty interesting overall. If you do this experiment again, I would use bread. It soaks up more olive oil.

I actually use Berrio a lot. I've tried a bunch of different olive oils, from cheap to high priced, and I believe that Berrio gives the most flavor for the least amount of money, which when you're a non-profit lackey like me is a very good thing.

I agree with the above person who suggested bread. It is supposed to be the best way to taste/sample olive oils...the lettuce definitely would affect your tastebuds (and so might the plastic bowls?).

Fun video!

Absolutely loved your video!!It gave me a much needed laugh in the middle of a rainy/snowy day here in Montreal.What a hoot!!!Thanks!!

Hey, don't feel bad--it's always fun to be surprised! I've given up "playing the field" and now just go for the Whole Foods
"365" brand--it's around 8 bucks for a big 33.8-oz. bottle, it's nicely dark green and very flavorful ... and as much as I use it, it certaily fills the bill.
Do you ever get down to Austin?? We are a pretty great little food/music town; just don't wait til it's too hot! Your blog is a blast--thanks!

Great video! I love tasting different olive oils; a massive Whole Foods just opened in my neighborhood, and they have an olive oil bar where you can sample different bottles before you choose which to buy.

In my experience, more expensive olive oils tend to have a lighter or more subtle flavor. Maybe they're more pure? Nice for a something like a caprese salad when you want something light and fresh that won't drown out your uncooked ingredients. But for a cooking oil I like something a little bigger and use the cheap stuff.

And aren't cats so helpful with culinary endeavors?

That was great!!
Very interesting.. I would have dipped bread in it for the tasting.
I will have to try this at home.
LOVE the CAT!!

Fantastic stuff, loved it! Funnily enough I use your cheapest one for my every day cooking. It's not bad, is it?!

Darn it. Yesterday I just bought a fancy bottle of olive oil on my last day in Italy. But I appreciated your video and that you proved the point that the most expensive things aren't necessarily the most preferred. I've had my suspicions that the extra costs usually are for the expensive packaging. I also recently read something about how the "Best before" date on olive oil is important and it should be consumed within 2 years of it being made. Maybe that's just common sense for some people...but I thought it was an important point.

I use Berio regular olive oil (not extra-virgin) for my everyday cooking. It imparts a nice flavor and can hold up to the heat. I love to fry eggs in a little olive oil and corn meal. Yum!

i would submit that stonehouse isn't really that great to begin with. i think if you put a good Tuscan olive oil like capezzana or laudemio up against berio and olava, you'd see a much different result.

Hmmm... interesting (and funny!).

First of all... I'm not an oil expert... just an "amateur gourmet", like you all.

But I'd like to point out a couple of things: the difference between olive oils is not just between "better" or "worse" oils, but there're much more details which you have to pay attention to, as you're not supposed to use the same oil for different stuff (salads, frying, cooking, ... whatever).

The composition of the oil is very important, as well. I guess it's not very fair to compare oils made from different kind of olives (in Spain we have arbequina, hojiblanca, picual, picudo, empeltre, hojiblanca, cornicabra, lechin, mancanilla, verdial, ..., for example). There's something similar with wines: you can't say just "white wines are better than red ones" (or "Cabernet Sauvignon is better than merlot").

Oh, and of course using vegetables is not the best way to taste oils... maybe you should't even use bread. Use one spoon and "slurp" the oil to spread it to all around your mouth. By the way... yes, it can be a bit disgusting sometimes... hehehe.

So... I think it's more about tastes and different uses than just "better" or "worse".

You've a GREAT BLOG!

P.D.- Sorry for my awful english...

That was a great experiment, I've often wondered just what a high quality olive oil would taste like. I use Bertolli, but once in a while I like the peppery taste of Pompeian. Any excuse to dip bread in olive oil works for me....

Yes, but which one did Lolita prefer?? Great video AG, keep 'em coming!

Great video and great site! I love you.
I also agree with you - Berio is a great go to everyday olive oil - my olive oil of choice.
Beautiful cat.
You rock the house. Big time.

I've decided that the two factors that most influence the taste of olive oils are refinement and age/spoilage. I think it's a pretty volatile/spoil-prone oil and where it came from / how old it is really does factor in. If it spent a month on a boat and a month on the shelf before you bought it, I think that can really affect the flavor! Also, the more refined it is, I think the less prone to spoilage and therefore fresher-tasting it'll be. The tradeoff there is that you have less flavor to begin with since the flavorful "dark" stuff in the oil has been filtered out already...

I actually use the Berrio as well and really like it. I once bought one of the "fancy" olive oils but found that when I wanted some olive oil for dipping bread into, it was the cheaper Berrio that I resorted too!

Cook's Illustrated places Berio (#3)near the top of their "Best Supermarket Extra Virgin Olive Oils." #1 is da Vinci and #2 is Colavita. Like others have said, you just have to taste and see what you like. Cook's has stated that the more expensive is not necessarily the best & it depends on how you are using the olive oil. Heat kills a lot of the flavor, so save your expensive olive oil for finishing dishes & salads. You can't go wrong with Cook's! I subscribe to the website for $24.95 a year. It is worth it just for the product tests & tasting labs.

www.oilerie.com is where I get my olive oil. It's a husband and wife team and they have don't bottle it until you order. They also have incredible 25 yr old balsamic vinegar that is so thick and sweet, I think around 15.00 bucks or less. Hate to quote Rachael Ray but yum-O!

Great post as always, AG.

Lolita cameo!!!

I haven't seen her on the blog in a while and thought maybe you had to leave her somewhere else when you moved. Good to see she's still present, and adorable as ever.

From the video it looks like the bottles were not bought at the same time. Should have bought three new bottles for the test, used bread and cleared your mouth by eating some bread between tastings.

Oh my god, too funny -- I'm an Amateur Gourmet virgin and I'm lovin' it so far. I am a fan of Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and am feel confident that if you served it to the Barefoot Contessa, she would love it too!

That was so much fun! I love that you're posting so much video now! Now for some unsolicited video advice.

Try as hard as you can (and it is very, very hard to get used to) to look into the camera's lens and not at the playback screen (or mirror, or whatever it is you've got over on your left there). Have total faith in your facial expressions and look right at your audience! We want to see you, not you looking off to the side!

Now please film an episode about bacon.


I just have to say that I have been viewing your site for the last couple months and love it! You are so endearing and your little videos are great. Keep them coming! Congrats on the book!


I thought it was interesting how you pre-judged the oils. In the middle of your discussion, you say "the best" where I think what you meant to say was "most expensive."

Incidentally, I waver between several brands, none of which you reviewed. But I'd recommend them.

Laudemio, ~$40
Oliviers & Co. ~$35=45 (they make so many, but their Tuscan varieties are awesome)
Colavita ~$14
Stew Leonards ~$8

For "Great" tasting, try small white vessels to appreciate the color, viscosity, and you can sip each one without food. I taste and compare using good bread and salt anointed on each piece.

Hi again, I love this so much I've added it to my 'delectable posts' round up (along with your Eleven Madison Park Revisited post): http://asliceofcherrypie.blogspot.com/2007/05/delectable-posts.html

Hi again, I love this so much I've added it to my 'delectable posts' round up (along with your Eleven Madison Park Revisited post): http://asliceofcherrypie.blogspot.com/2007/05/delectable-posts.html

Cute video.
well. it's definately a fun video=-)
about the experiment result: I think poeple often prefer what they are used to.
I mean, think about it.. which olive oil would restaurants use most of the time to make $10 salad? expensive oils? probably not. People prefer the ones that are easy to access. . . . what do you think? anywayz, this was fun and nice video xoxo

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