5@5 - Chef Cathy Whims
June 7th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

One is the loneliest number, and perhaps that's also why one is never enough.

For Cathy Whims, this is especially true when it comes to good olive oil.

Whims is the three-time James Beard nominee and executive chef of Nostrana in Portland, Oregon. Let's just say she's very hardcore about using quality olive oil - she even goes so far as to offer flights and tastings of her favorites at the restaurant.

In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if she drank the stuff ... with a ciabatta chaser.

Five Reasons Why One Olive Oil is Never Enough: Cathy Whims

1. "Extra virgin olive oil is my favorite eating and cooking oil and the most important ingredient in my kitchen pantry. All fats have loads of calories, and if I'm going to consume them anyway, they had better have the depth of flavor that a great extra virgin olive oil brings to the table.

Just one tablespoon of a fine oil can dress raw or cooked vegetables with impressive results and it only adds 120 calories. And it has no cholesterol and is high in vitamin E."

2. "One great all-purpose oil I use for cooking and on the table is a sweet, grassy and round 100% Arbequina olive oil from California. It is the perfect match for dipping our wood oven baked ciabatta into and reasonably priced and not too strong of a flavor profile to use in cooking.

Lots of chefs cut their cooking olive oil with a neutral oil like canola, or use a pure olive oil of a lower grade than extra virgin - but to my mind that's akin to cooking with margarine, and I don't cook with additives."

3. "Summer is almost upon us here in rainy Portland and I am dreaming of eating the first of our local tomatoes. To my mind, the perfect oil for an Insalata Caprese is a peppery, intense Tuscan oil like Frescobaldi's Laudemio extra virgin from the Chianti Classico region. Just add basil and mozzarella and open a rosé and I'm in heaven.

4. "Each December we celebrate the arrival of the just-pressed Olio Nuovo ('new oil') from Italy and our California producers. Bright green with chlorophyll, pungent and aggressive, we douse it generously over grilled bruschetta rubbed with garlic. Use enough oil that it drops down your arm when eating it."

5. "One of the few infused oils we use is called Olio Santo, or 'Holy Oil' made by steeping hot chili peppers in extra virgin oil for a few days. Its spiciness is perfect over a creamy foil of cooked heirloom beans or drizzled over a Neopolitan pizza."

What type of olive oil do you use (if any)? And is there more than one type in your repetoire? Share your oily thoughts in the comment section.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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  4. Kate

    I get my olive oil from The Olive Press in Sonoma, CA. They have a wide variety of oils in a range of flavors and strengths - all of them yummy.

    June 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  5. Jay

    Baja Precious is the best extra virgin olive oil.

    June 11, 2011 at 9:51 am | Reply
  6. Tayler

    One olive oil isn't enough, especially when there are so many great ones out there (and even some local ones!) The Oregon Olive Mill is producing Arebequina, Koroneiki, and Tuscan olive oils iin the middle of the Willamette Valley Nothing is better than some Olio Nuovo in the fall drizzled over some savory french toast.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  7. bfg67

    i always thought cookery programs and cookbooks said to used blended olive oil, or of course other oil, for cooking because of the smoke point?

    June 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  8. RG

    I like olive oil so much, I use it in my car and it's also a great natural lubricant for......other things, to be polite.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
  9. RJ

    I've really only used regular EVOO for cooking and on salads. I haven't much paid attention to the different ones out there but I am going to start after reading this.

    Gives me an idea for a blog write up. Fairway near us has a great selection of many different kinds of Olive Oils. I should get a few and see if they make any difference in taste etc when cooking or putting on salads.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
  10. RG

    A few years ago, while on an Atkins diet, I started using olive oil and Louisiana Hot Sauce as a salad dressing. They compliment each other, the olive oil takes the heat off the sauce and brings out the flavor in both.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:00 am | Reply
  11. JimG

    The best olive oil on the planet comes from the Belice valley near Castelvetrano Sicily. The variety Nocellara Di Belice is D.O.P and all the olives are hand picked and pressed the old fashion way. No machines. Hands down the best.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:57 am | Reply
  12. Pina

    I Like Lefas Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
    It's very very tasty!!
    nyum nyum

    June 8, 2011 at 8:22 am | Reply
  13. James

    It has been reported recently that much of the world's olive oil supply is illegally adulterated by mixing with other, cheaper (non-olive) oils. I've heard that Greek, Spanish, and Israeli olive oils are relatively unaffected.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:09 am | Reply
  14. Donald White

    Olive Oil has a nasty taste...all types, cold pressed, hard pressed, depressed, suppressed...izza nota for me!

    June 8, 2011 at 7:40 am | Reply
    • I got dat gold!

      izza nota for u cuz I got all dat goooold!

      June 8, 2011 at 7:54 am | Reply
  15. Paul

    Try Villa Cappelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP from Puglia. An unfiltered monocultivar that is strong, aromatic, grassy, buttery. Also one of the best Olio Santo on the market.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:38 am | Reply
  16. Parrot

    The best olive oil is from Spain, period !!

    June 8, 2011 at 6:11 am | Reply
  17. Oleg

    Cooking with extra virgin olive oil is dangerous as carcinogens are formed if you exceed it's smoking point temperature (about 300 F / 148 C). Therefore. it's best used with salads and cold dishes. Just search for olive oil plus cooking +unhealthy (or cancer or risks)

    June 8, 2011 at 5:44 am | Reply
  18. Michael

    Our family always uses extra virgin olive oil from southern Greece, in the Peloponnesos (Peloponnese). It has a rich quality that often times goes far beyond Italian olive oils. The best way to get it is to actually go to the villages around the Sparta area and buy from the farmers directly. It's a great treat!

    June 8, 2011 at 5:42 am | Reply
  19. Eva

    Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil is the only oil I use. I usually go by color when buying - the darker the color the more flavorful the oil usually is (but obviously don't let dark-green tinted glass fool you). I go with oil that's dark green and stay away from the yellowish varieties.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:35 am | Reply
    • Paul

      Be careful of some "green" oils. Many mass market oils have color added to them. All evoo turns golden as it oxydizes. If it remains green, you can bet artificial color has been added – everything from food color to chlorophyl to ferrous oxide.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:41 am | Reply
  20. Aaron

    Hojiblanca olive oil from Spain. My personal fav. Very peppery and delicious.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:06 am | Reply
  21. Avi Quijada

    I usually use Gallo Extra Virgin or Trader Joes Extra Virgin, but I do remember when I was little my mom did use different types for different uses, the one with the Insalata Capressa that's my favorite, and if it drips down your arm while eating a brusqueta, hey its the best skin conditioner you can get!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:43 am | Reply
  22. mdamone

    The author may be a chef but she is definitely not Italian. The difference is monumental.

    "One" is actually the best number for olive oil. Too many cheap oils are blends from Italy, Spain, Tunisia, etc. Make sure your EVOO is from only one country, and one local source if possible. "Extra virgin" does not imply the first pressing, cold or not. It relates to the acidity of the pressing. The lower the better.

    Why did the author state how low in calories olive oil is at first, then state how it should be used to the point of dripping down the arm?? The latter is better according to the Mediterranean diet, which far surpasses anything the America's have ever offered.

    Also surprising: many use only decent OO, not extra virgin, for cooking. Heat breaks the properties of olive oil down and reduces its health benefits...and taste. To use a high quality EVOO for heated cooking is a waste of time, taste and money. Good EVOO's are used cold, in dressings or drizzled. Use a quality regular olive oil for heated cooking. You will never know the difference. In fact, save money. Most could not taste the difference between EVOO and regular olive oil.

    Sorry, Author. You are likely from California...and north to boot...and promote CA olives. But true devotees and the informed would not touch a CA olive with a stick. Stay with Italian EVOO. If you don't think it makes a difference, then continue watching the Food Channel, calling yourself a "foodie", and buy the Author's latest book. Purists only buy good Italian olive oil – the soil makes all the difference. Excellent Italian EVOO is more expensive than fine wine. No need to go this far, but do you think that dirt in NorCal can produce the quality that soil in Sicily that has been producing good olives since the Roman Empire can be compared?

    "Not too strong of a flavor profile" in EVOO?? Wow. You ARE from NorCal. EVOO is used for its strong, fruity, citrus-like flavor. That is why is stands up against only wine vinegar in a dressing. Good EVOO is green in color, fresh in scent, and flowery in flavor. Stick with store brand EVOO's for a "not too strong" flavor. I hear it's good to top off the car's oil level, too.

    Use EVOO for everything. Take a spoonful with chili pepper flakes in it to kill a cold. Soak wooden spoons in it before use. Season cutting boards with it. Use is as lip balm or to moisturize dry elbows or heels. But read up about it at least briefly and don't assume chefs from the Northwest know any more because they make "Olio Nuovo" sound exotic!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:37 am | Reply
    • Eva

      I believe there are also excellent types of olive oil from Spain and Greece (especially Greece). But yes, Italian is obviously excellent, too. I also find Californian olives more than disgusting - they smell like motor oil.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:38 am | Reply
  23. ash

    I have type2 diabetes, and i was advise to take one tea spoon of Extra virgin olive oil, early morning before breakfast.
    recently i read an article , it says people live around meditranian area have less heart problems, because they use
    extra virgin olive oil, in salad, in cooking and so on....make sense..I wish we must educate each and every American
    to eat healthy food, and seriously LOOK AFTER HEALTH...After all HEALTH IS WEALTH....we all keep in MIND......
    God Bless The USA :)

    Sincerely ,

    Ash Mirza (Atlanta, GA )

    June 8, 2011 at 2:01 am | Reply
  24. mconn

    My current favorite is Paradiso. I learned of this extra virgin olive oil from the owner of a small Italian restaurant in Ft.Lauderdale. However, I am always willing to try something different.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:06 am | Reply
  25. Willowspring

    In our household Colavita reigns. We use the first cold pressed EVOO for almost everythingl. However, for dressings and bread dipping etc., we use the Colavita fruitty EVOO, a lovely clear green oil. Just a day or two ago, I fixed one of my favorites: a bowl of quinoa (a grain) with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, the fruity EVOO with a good splash of fresh squeezed lemon, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a healthy chiffonade of fresh basil from my herb garden.
    I let it sit for about fifteen minutes before eating. Yumm!!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:52 am | Reply
  26. zzz

    I cannot afford to pay for day to day life. It is very expensive.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:30 am | Reply
  27. petunia

    ... the image I am talking about is the link to this article on your home page .... if I can't trust you with this how do I trust you with other maters? Are you trying to emulate FOX news?

    June 8, 2011 at 12:27 am | Reply
  28. petunia

    CNN.. Why use an image of pimento stuffed olives for a story about olive oil?????
    You obviously know nothing about olive oil – no one makes olive oil out of those.!!!!
    Do some research please!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:03 am | Reply
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