Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: How to get the best olive oil

This is my last blog on Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook.” Perhaps there will be more to follow one day.

Hazan offers a simple, barely a page long, discourse on olive oil. One of the unfortunate facts she spills, is that most imported olive oil is so refined, that it has almost no resemblance to the great olive oils of Italy. 

Olive oil should smell strongly of olives, and be thick and green. The best advice for finding a good olive oil is to crack a bottle and smell it. If it has a vibrant olive smell, then you have found the good stuff. If not, set it aside.

She also reminds us that everything does not have to be cooked in olive oil. It should be used only when the special flavor that olive oil imparts is desired.

Nothing is as satisfyingly simple as a bowl of pasta, a little olive oil, a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and if you want to be extravagant, some crumbled, salty, smoky bacon. Remember to use the best quality olive oil you can to garnish this dish.


1 pound best quality pasta

1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Best olive oil

Optional 1/2 cup chopped, crisp bacon

Remembering some of the things we have talked about this week, cook the pasta al dente, drain, and return to the cooking pot, with a good drizzle of olive oil. Optionally, cook the bacon until crisp, drain and crumble. Plate the pasta, add copious amounts of Parmigiano-Reggiano, garnish with the bacon if you like, and serve at once. Now close your eyes, spin your fork around the plate, remembering to never, never use a spoon, place the fork in your mouth, and slowly, slowly chew and  swallow. Now take a sip of wine. Repeat.