I Write About Food for a Living, and This Is the Only Olive Oil I Cook With
Your roasted veggies, homemade marinades, and kale salads will never be the same.
Good olive oil is like salt and pepper—it’s a non-negotiable pantry staple that, whether you cook several times a day or almost never, you should have on hand at all times.
I cook a lot. And thanks to the current climate, I’m guessing you do too. But here’s the thing: making unforgettable food doesn’t have to be time-consuming or fussy. I could rant and rave about mastering mise en place, perfecting your pasta-making technique, and nailing chef-y knife skills all day, but the real secret to the most delicious dishes? Using high-quality ingredients.
Because olive oil has been the base to nearly every meal I’ve made since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve submitted to the little luxury that is using really good extra virgin olive oil. It’s a no-brainer—finding a better EVOO has meant more enjoyable meals, yes, but it’s also saved me tons of time fussing over foods (and adding extra ingredients) that shouldn’t have required any extra zhuzh.
Those who have tried Brightland Olive Oil ($37, brightland.co ) know exactly what I’m talking about. The matte white bottle of Alive EVOO—made from nothing but heirloom California Arbequina and Arbosana olives—is Instagram feed-friendly af and tastes like liquid gold. It’s vibrant, smooth, nutty, and incredibly fresh. The scent of California olives radiates out of the bottle as soon as you open it, similar to an aromatic wine.
If it tastes fresher to you than other olive oils, that’s because it is. The company’s founder, Aishwarya Iyer, left her glossy venture capital job to start the company after realizing that the majority of the olive oil we consume in America is either adulterated, rotten, or rancid. She went to work researching the country’s extra virgin olive oil industry and chose a farm on the Central Coast of California with a certified organic mill on-site to sustainably grow and cold-press the olives she would use for Brightland. Each bottle bares the exact harvest date, and the matte white glass isn’t just for show—it’s been UV-coated to protect the EVOO inside from light damage.
Fresh olive oil is also better for you. Studies have shown that fresh extra virgin olive oil has a higher polyphenol count, meaning the oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (For the other excellent health benefits you’ll reap from EVOO, see our guide here.)
You can drizzle Brightland Alive olive oil over everything, but I’ve found that it adds extra vibrancy to salad dressings and vinaigrettes, meat or veg marinades, homemade hummus, and desserts (think olive oil cake or over vanilla ice cream). Also, contrary to popular belief, authentic extra virgin olive oil does have a high smoke point of 420°F when fresh, so go ahead and crank the heat.
To buy: $37; brightland.co