FrontRunners: Refined Oil
Too many truffle oils, even the priciest, are the kitchen equivalent of cheap perfume: Their aromas are so overpowering that they offend rather than entice. Italy’s Fernando Pensato Olio di Oliva Extra Vergine Tartufo (available through the Sandy Butler Market in Florida, www.sandybutler.com) is that rare oil with subtle fragrance and potent flavor. This summer it was one of 30 food products—out of nearly 2,000 in competition—to win a medal at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C. Fernando Pensato Tartufo is priced at $30 for an 8.5-ounce bottle.
Unlike oils that are chemically scented (most are), this one is infused with extract from Périgord black truffles, known as the black diamonds of the South of France. The extra-virgin oil is pressed from Peranzana olives, grown in Apulia and harvested while still green, which results in a smaller yield of higher-quality olives with very low acidity.