Pressing Issue

Scoop up--and use--local olio nuovo while it's fresh

If you love olive oil, there's a simple directive for this time of year: Buy olio nuovo and use it. Now.

The brightest and most pungent incarnation of olive oil occurs the moment the olives are pressed. The flavors of olio nuovo are bold and peppery, and the texture is extra-creamy.

Like all things young, olio nuovo is volatile. It hasn't rested for months like standard extra-virgin oil (a process that allows the olive sediment to settle). So olio nuovo must be consumed before its olive particles sour.

The oil is an ideal gift for the home cook–whether that cook is a loved one or you. Here are three of our Bay Area favorites:

Bozzano Ranch ($9 per pound in bulk; $32 for 500 ml prepackaged) This oil is produced in Stockton in the Central Valley. The combination of Frantoio and Leccino olives results in an elixir that smacks of apples. (Available in bulk at both the Berkeley 4th St. and Oakland Market Hall locations of The Pasta Shop and prepackaged at Farm Fresh to You in San Francisco)

McEvoy Ranch ($22 for 375ml) Lauren Kiino of Il Cane Rosso and the upcoming Bracina is a fan of McEvoy's extremely limited release. She loves the oil's green notes on toasted bread, for dressing white beans, or as a dip for winter vegetables. (Available at mcevoyranch.com at the ranch's Ferry Building location)

Frog Hollow Farm ($22 for 500ml) Frog Hollow's slogan is "Legendary Fruit" –a reference originally meant for the farm's summer stone fruits, but which now applies to its olives as well. A combination of green and black olives is used in the farm's round, zippy oil. (Available at froghollow.com, Frog Hollow Farm's Ferry Building store and at the Tues., Thu. and Sat. farmers' markets in Berkeley and the Fri. farmers' market in Mill Valley)