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To spread happiness this festive season without going broke, what better than a useful and worthwhile gift, purchased at a reasonable price? In matters of food, a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil holds great value and is always appreciated by my friends.
As with wine or cigars, the price and organoleptic quality of olive oil vary greatly from one product to another.
Here are three tips to help you along the way: First, rule out any product whose origin and expiry date are not clearly indicated on the label, in order to avoid dubious mixtures and also because oil has a maximum shelf life of 18 to 24 months. Next, whatever people may say, quality goes hand in hand with price and it is difficult to find good quality oils for less than $15/750ml. Finally, I recommend asking for a taste of the oil to see if you like it and if you get the taste of olives.
This is why I advise you to make your purchase in a specialized store, where you can get help from experts. Here are four good places in Montreal: Olive & Olives, Épicerie Latina, Fruiterie Milano, Les Douceurs du Marché. You will be able to enjoy a variety of different flavours before you decide.
If there is no gourmet food store near you, some supermarkets do offer good organic oils from two renowned importers/producers from Quebec: “La belle excuse” and “Maison Orphée”.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on December 1st, 2012.