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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

Supermarket Sleuth

A $10 Olive Oil That Tastes Like a $50 One

Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.
Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.

Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

“Whoa, did you splurge on spendy olive oil?” my husband asked me recently while eating a very simply dressed salad. I hadn’t, actually. I had just tossed the greens with the California Olive Ranch (COR) Everyday oil I had picked up on a whim for about $10. The oil was so fresh and fruity—it really did taste more expensive.

On the back of the bottle, I noticed a harvest date—something most olive oil producers leave as a mystery unless you’re paying top dollar. That harvest date—it matters. In general, the more recent the harvest, the better the oil tastes. For example, I once tasted COR’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 oils at the same time. The 2010 was definitely more muted. The 2011 was still delicious, but the 2012 was even more vibrant.

It also helps that COR rushes its olives from the fields to the presses so they’re turned into oil within hours. I may never spend more on olive oil again.

Related: Great Recipes that Use Good Oil
100 Best-Ever Salad Recipes
Healthy Green Salads

Expert Guide

Top Chef's Paul Qui on How to Run a Successful Food Truck

Paul Qui standing in front of his original food trailer, with his partner, Motoyasu Utsunomiya. / © Jay B Sauceda.
© Jay B Sauceda

Paul Qui standing in front of his original food trailer, with his partner, Motoyasu Utsunomiya. / © Jay B Sauceda

Organizers for Austin’s massive annual music, film and technology festival, South by Southwest (which kicks off Friday), tapped Top Chef: Texas winner and former Uchiko executive chef Paul Qui to curate a selection of 16 food trucks for SouthBites, the event’s first official food court. Qui currently operates three East Side King trucks, and last December he parlayed their success into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. When choosing businesses for the project, he looked for diversity beyond hot dogs and burgers, such as the famous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and South African local favorite Cazamance. Here, Qui reveals the secrets to operating a fantastic food truck and his picks for the best food at SouthBites.

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Editor Obsession

Spring Break Cleanses to Leave You Beachy Clean

Courtesy of Organic Avenue.
Courtesy of Organic Avenue.

Courtesy of Organic Avenue.

Yikes, didn’t you realize that Spring Break was just around the corner? Or is already here? And you haven’t started your diet yet? There’s not a minute to waste. It’s time to do a cleanse. If you need help figuring out the best one for you, here’s a little Q & A that might help. 5 cleanse options to prepare you for the beach. »

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Drink This Now

Spring Tease: Fennel Cocktails

Fennel Cocktails: The Archduke

The Archduke © Brent Herrig

Lightly sweet and fresh, fennel is the perfect bridge from winter to spring. Like a lot of chefs, many cocktail experts are fans of both fennel bulbs and the plant’s herbaceous fronds. At New York City’s The Third Man—Edi & The Wolf’s little, boozier sister—Austrian chef-partner Edi Frauneder uses fresh baby fennel juice in the Archduke. Frauneder first dehydrates fennel fronds with a quick blast of liquid nitrogen, then adds ice, Laird’s Apple Brandy, bittersweet Cynar, fresh fennel juice made from the delicate bulb and Peychaud’s bitters. He stirs the anise-scented cocktail, then strains it into a rocks glass with one large, hand-cut ice cube and garnishes it with a fresh fennel frond. Here, more fennel drinks that offer a taste of spring. »

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Tasting Room

Awesome Canned Craft Beer

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada.
Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada

There are now more than 180 craft breweries putting their brew into cans (out of about 875 total, not counting brewpubs). And that’s a fine thing. I mean, it may be 20 degrees outside, but you’ve still got to drink something at the beach, right? Here are 5 great canned craft beers. »

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