Friday, September 24, 2010

A Visit to La Tête Dans les Olives, Paris

It seemed like a treasure hunt finding the olive oil store, La Tête dans Olive, or Olives on the Head. With map in hand and friends in tow, we got off at the Belleville metro stop in search of the side street, rue Ste. Marthe. My friends, Nancy and Lenny had been there last fall and spoke of this tiny store selling artisanal Italian olive oil. Owned by Cedric Casanova, it is the largest wholesaler of extra virgin olive oil in Paris. Each oil comes from a family farm in a small section in Sicily and is sold either by the bottle or from metal vats straight into your own container. If we hadn't known of this unassuming shop, chances are it would have remained undiscovered. Upon opening the old wooden door and stepping down into this minuscule space, we knew we were in for a special treat. Pablo, who runs the shop, warmly greeted us and invited us to a tasting of some of the oils. He gave us each a spoon and drew some of the greenish gold elixir from a vat labeled with a family's name. Just as wines vary depending on the soil, climate conditions and variety of fruit, each oil has it's own flavor and dimension. Tasting them side by side accentuated the differences between them. One was more young and fruity, another milder yet complex. Some had a peppery finish that Pablo explained as having to do more with the molecular makeup versus the variety of the olive. As we let the olive flavors settle on our palates, he set up a slab of Pecorino cheese with native dried tomatoes and olives in brine. It was a wonderful cocktail hour choice that would go well with wine. While we were in the shop, someone stopped in with a vessel to fill from the vat. The olive oil is less expensive that way. Just bring in your own container. This man used his water bottle....a practical but curious choice, I'd say. Not having brought my own container this time, I bought a bottle of Freres Rabito that was sitting on the shelves. Next time I'll bring my empty bottle back. And, with a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, I think I know what I'll be putting it on.

We laid our spoons to rest and left.
On the way to dinner, I couldn't stop thinking about all of the stories of the different Sicilian family farms. On the La Tête Dans Olives site, the story of each oil is told. Now I can see why Cedric Casanova has "olives on the head"!
Les Tete dans Olives, in French here.

Les Tete dans Olives, translated in Engish here.2 rue Sainte Marthe 750 10 Paris
metro : Colonel fabien, belleville ou Goncourt . Metro: Colonel Fabien, Goncourt or Belleville.
bus 75, 46 arret : hopital saint louis bus 75, 46 stop: Saint Louis Hospital
du mardi au vendredi de 14hà19h Tuesday to Friday 14hà19h
le samedi de 11h à 18h Saturday from 11h to 18h

tel +33(0)951313334 tel +33 (0) 951 313 334
Fax +33(0)956313334 Fax +33 (0) 956 313 334