This year's early winter harvest of Italian olive oil is now being celebrated at Nostrana in three courses of both savory and sweet. Each course is developed to highlight the olive oil's characteristics. Being an olive oil afficianado and even hosting my very own seven course olive oil dinner, I was very excited to see what a professional version was like, but this was not just any professional. The mastermind is 2010 James Beard Foundation Award Finalist for best chef in the Northwest, Nostrana's executive chef, Cathy Whims. I was lucky enough to be invited to the olive oil tasting initiation and orientation, led by olive oil expert Jeffrey Bergman from Culinary Concepts in Seattle.
We started off with the house made pork head cheese. Rich with ribbons of orange zest, the freshness of the olive oil shined as did the creaminess carried by the rich head organs parts.
The new cheese in town: Pork Head Cheese
The Frescobaldi 'Laudemio' Olio Nuovo (Tuscana) is highlighted in the Zuppa alla frantoiana (olive harvest soup) with whole wheat bruschetta. The frescobaldi, bright with aromas of artichoke and black pepper, is carried by the thick, plump beans and olive oil broth. I appreciated the nutty flavors of the whole wheat bruschetta showing off the rustic flavors this oil can bring.
Frescobaldi & Olive Harvest Soup
The Capezzana Olio Nuovo (Toscana) with a trio of purées: carrot, potato and lentil emphasizes the classical flavors of Tuscany: intense strong olive fruit and pepper. This particular olive oil has a strong history, pressed from trees planted by the Medici family just 25 minutes northwest of Florence. The creaminess and passiveness of the purées served as a vehicle to carry the intense flavors of the Cappezzana.
Pureed Vegetables and Cappezzana
The Becchina 'Olio Verde' Olio Novello (Sicilia), noted for its rich olive fruit and almond characteristics, is paired with Manilla clams and zolfino beans. This oil, unfiltered and bright green with chlorophyll suspended in bottle (which serves as a preserving agent), plays up the nutty hues found in beans and the sweetness in shellfish.
Becchina & Clams
The Dolci segment starts off with Frescobaldi 'Laudemio' Olio Nuovo (Tuscana) and Salted chocolate truffles. The dark chocolate brings out elegant layers of pepper whilst maintaining levels of freshness.
Frescobaldi and Chocolate: A must before you die
It was truly incredible to understand the fresh vegetal tones brought out of the Capezzana Olio Nuovo (Toscana) by the Venetian carrot cake. The fluffy, moist cake sang with greenness. It was almost invigorated. And delicious At the end, we were all fighting for the last bite thereby granting sopping rights.
Capezzana and Carrot Cake: Taste buds taken to a new level
I'm ashamed to show you the photo below but it is an actual portrayal of how delicious the Becchina 'Olio Verde' Olio Novello (Sicilia) and Fior de latte gelato is. A rich, pure olive oil gelato supporting the creaminess of newly pressed olive oil. Simple, delicate and straight forward. This olive oil does not confuse taste buds in olive oil education.
We all scream for olive oil gelato
Nostrana's Olio Nuovo menu will be available during dinner service now until the New Year with the olive oils being available for purchase*. I recommended all of the menu options to truly appreciate everything these freshly pressed olive oils have to offer.
Flight of olive oils with wood oven freshly baked ciabatta ($8)
Savory Flight ($14)
Sweet Flight ($10)
*Bottles are also available for purchase.
1401 SE Morrison St.
Portland, OR 97214