Oil may not be the first thing to come to mind when envisioning a pairing or a tasting, but this workshop was just that. We were presented with 4 bean varieties and 4 extra virgin olive oils and given free reign to play. The panel as made up of bean growers and they spoke lovingly about their crops. The chef given the charge of cooking the legumes was Vincenzo D’Amato. Each bean cooked simply with minimal seasoning to allow us to taste the unadultered flavor they each possessed.
First up was an island lentil by the name of Ventotene, cooked with garlic, bay leaf and sage. Served up on an artisanal bread, it paired beautifully with the mild herbaceousness of the Salviana Monocultivar. The second batch of lentils by the name of Rascino were cooked with rosemary, leeks and carrots. Rosciola Olive Oil displayed a mild flavor but its delayed piquant afternote. It was interesting how the Orsini Monovarietale Itrana oil highlighted the herbs used in cooking the lentils.
My favorite bean of the day was the Fagiolone di Vallepietra, an earthy white bean with a sweet undertone. Combined with the Orsini Monovarietale Itrana oil, it tasted like a childhood afternoon at Nonna’s house. This particular oil was mild but complex with a soft bitterness and very delayed strong heat. Last but not least I chose to pair the white and buttery Fagiolina Arsolana with eVo oil to cut its richness.
Inspired by his work with the different legumes, Chef Vincenzo D’Amato created a bean pastry on the fly. It was a bean tart of sorts flavored with sambuca and sprinkled with coffee grounds, very different and tasty. I personally never would have thought of pairing legumes and oil just because I do not generally eat beans alone or dress them with oil. After this workshop however I will be switching it up from time to time and intend to try out the process with other oils such as walnut, avocado and pumpkin seed.
I encourage all my readers to really taste the olive oil they buy. The process is almost identical to that of wine. You take a small sip, let it linger on your tongue and then intake a bit of air between your teeth to roll it around, then swallow and wait to see what flavors jump out.