Olive oil has a fantastic reputation in Mediterranean countries: it is said that it contributes to the longevity of their inhabitants. In fact, the main type of fat found in the different kinds of olive oil is Monounsaturated Fatty Acids or MUFA, that is a monounsaturated fat, better than saturated or trans fat. These MUFA help lower the risk of heart disease, helping to lower, for instance, the level of cholesterol (the bad one!). It is also supposed to help blood clotting. Some research show that it may benefit blood sugar control and insulin levels, therefore benefiting people who have a type 2 diabetes (when did I get my PhD???). But, know that Olive oil is high in calories and all the beneficial nutrients it contains can be affected by heat, light and air. That is why it is better to keep it in a dark place and consume it between 6 months to a year maximum. Concerning the heat, that is true that I heard in the past that olive oil is not good for cooking: not sure what to think about it. A lot of chefs are using it instead of vegetable oil and it is true that the taste is better even in these circumstances.
So, now imagine a restaurant specialized in olive oil: it is what Fig & olives is about. They have several locations in New York and in each of them, they have an entire wall of bottles of olive oil that they sell. When they bring bread, they replace the butter by an olive oil tasting. I think this is interesting: who would pay attention to the different tastes of olive oil? There are so many different, that I find it clever to offer a tasting.
Their menu is definitely Mediterranean, with cuisines from France (the owner and chef are French), Italy and Spain. We discovered this restaurant during Restaurant Week and it was a great experience: everything was fresh and delicious. They did not degrade the quality of their menu like other restaurants do, probably understanding that a happy customer is a customer who would come back and recommend this restaurant. One of the things I appreciate is that they offer, all year long, a tasting entree for $30 (time of posting), called the Mediterranean tasting. It includes:
- Grilled chicken breast, grilled provence vegetable, marinated red bell pepper - Nocellara Olive Oil
- Grilled steak on rosemary skewer, bell pepper, Greek yogurt & honey, couscous - Koroneiki Olive Oil (photo 4). Note that the couscous is in fact a taboule salad.
- Grilled shrimp on rosemary skewer, cherry tomato, saffron rice - Pimenton & Oregano Hojiblanca Olive Oil
This tasting platter is a feast not only for your stomach, but also your eyes. The presentation is perfect. Of course, some may say that the quantities are not enough. Well, it is reasonable and considering the quality, I do not see any problem. On top of this, it gives you an opportunity to try their desserts!
Besides this tasting dish, I also tried:
- Yellow fin tuna carpaccio: Tuna, balsamic vinegar, cilantro, arugula, tomato marcona almond - Toasted Sesame Oil (photo 2): although the tuna was good, it was a bit bland and was missing some acidity.
- Penne Funghi Tartufo: Cremini mushroom, black trumpet, parmesan, parsley, scallion - White Truffle Olive Oil (photo 3). This was delicious! If you are a fan of mushrooms, you will be happy. The penne were perfectly cooked (al dente) and you could taste all these delicate flavors of mushrooms. Yum!
I am definitely a fan of this restaurant. The only negative is the noise level that is pretty high....
Enjoy (I did)!