We are not ordinarily ones to endorse flavored olive oil. We like the flavor of olives themselves, thank you very much.
But then we sampled Calivirgin jalapeño olive oil ($18 for 250ml), made by the family-owned Coldani Olive Ranch in Lodi.
We stirred it into guacamole. We drizzled it on grilled branzino. We whisked it into aioli. And the oil's subtle, sneaky heat enhanced all three dishes.
To produce it, roasted jalapeños are crushed alongside organically grown Arbequina and Koroneiki olives within hours of harvest. The resulting golden elixir is buttery, with a creamy mouthfeel and a slow burn; this is not some palate-killing devil sauce.
Now that we're officially hooked, we're dreaming of other uses: combining it with lime juice in a vinaigrette for end-of-season tomatoes, pouring it onto scrambled eggs, or using it in place of red pepper flakes the next time we're making a spicy pasta sauce.
It's working wonders on summer vegetables, but we have a feeling its brightness and kick will be especially welcome come winter. For that reason, we're stocking up now.