How to best enjoy olive oil

The generous use of olive oil, according to many medical studies, appears to be a key contributor in making the Mediterranean diet one of the healthiest. That’s because the oil extracted from the fleshy part of the ripened fruit of the olive tree has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help lower risks of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and even dementia.

Additionally, olive oil is prized in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including major producers Spain and Italy, for giving dishes an extra layer of flavor with its nutty and fruity notes. It also helps balance the other ingredients in a dish with its velvety texture, either while cooking, giving a finishing touch, or making a salad dressing.

Presa Ibérica de Cerdo

To showcase the delicacy and versatility of olive oil, the Doña Elena local brand sourced from Spain has teamed up with Terraza Martinez, a restaurant located in the Bonifacio Global City that specializes in Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines.

Chef Luis Martinez has come up with a special four-course menu using the three types of olive oil: extra virgin (first cold pressed, unrefined), pure (combination of extra virgin and refined oils) and pomace (extracted after the first press). The menu is available this whole month of September for only P1,950 at Terraza Martinez (Ground Floor, The Arcade, Shangri-La at The Fort, 5th Avenue, BGC).

Manchego Cheesecake.

“It’s a balance of the dishes,” the Valencia native told DAILY TRIBUNE at the launch of the culinary collaboration. “In Spain, with a Mediterranean diet, we start with a cold soup, gazpacho.” He whipped it up using pure olive oil, canned diced tomatoes, anchovies, garlic prawns, tomato tartar, capers and croutons. The result was an exquisite unitary blend of the ingredients that will excite even the strictly hot soup-loving Pinoys.

“You can continue with a salad,” Martinez said of his next dish. “In this case, I use cured snapper carpaccio as a kind of salad.” It consisted of thinly sliced snapper fish, which is marinated in extra virgin oil, along with crushed tomato, fried capers and lime zest. It then teases the taste buds to enjoy more the culinary journey.

Terraza Martinez Special Menu.

“Then you have a main dish of meat or fish,” he pointed out on what they usually have in Spain. For the special menu, he used presa Ibérica, or the meat cut located slightly below the pork tenderloin. His own recipe of Presa Ibérica de Cerdo was glazed and charcoal-grilled. It’s then served with truffle mashed potato, shallots caramelized in olive oil, wild fresh mushrooms and demi-glacé sauce. (The pescatarians at the event were served with Bacalao instead.)

“For dessert, I made cheesecake because I know a lot of people like cheesecake,” he explained, grinning. “But in this case, I’m using Manchego cheese from Spain.” His Manchego Cheesecake was tangy and smooth with a light touch of pomace olive oil. It’s topped with blueberry jelly and mango slices that add a bit of sweetness and some juicy flavor.

Chef Luis Martinez.

Martinez also gave a few reminders in using what he calls “liquid gold,” such as extra virgin oil is not for cooking. It’s best used in salads, where its flavor can be tasted to its purest form. Pure and pomace olive oil are ideal for cooking, especially deep frying, as they can tolerate high temperature.