References to olive oil in Greek and Roman literature dating back 2,000 years set Roberto Crea to thinking. As a biochemist, he was intrigued by the descriptions of oils made by crushing the fruit without smashing the pit. By all accounts the result was a rich, full-flavored oil with a natural sweetness unobscured by bitter compounds from the pits. The scientific logic in this led Crea to pursue a new technology emulating the ancient process.
Simply put, Crea's Italian integrale-style olive oils are pressed from fruit that has been cut from the pit. And the results are as promised: richly fruited, delicately flavored oils that are, by technical measure, less acidic and therefore extra-virgin. They remind me of the first truly exquisite olive oil I ever tasted ― handmade by Tio (Uncle) Giorgio from olives he grew and harvested on his farm in the hills east of Lucca in Tuscany.
As a California resident who grew up in Italy, Crea is producing integrale extra-virgin olive oils both here and there. CreAgri Supremo olive oils, in 500-ml. (16.9-oz.) bottles, are increasingly available in gourmet supermarkets and food shops. The price varies with the source: California oils cost about $21, Puglia oils (from Italy's east coast) about $23, and Tuscan oils about $25, plus shipping; to order, call (510) 732-8072.