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The L.A. Times Shines a Light on Olio Nuovo for Hannukah

The festival of lights should be all about the new oil!

Photo by Kirk McCoy for Los Angeles Times
Photo by Kirk McCoy for Los Angeles Times
Photo by Kirk McCoy for Los Angeles Times

Amelia Saltsman, writing for the Los Angeles Times, revives the idea of combining two long-held traditions: the celebration of Hanukkah with the celebration of the new extra virgin olive oil, olio nuovo. Olive oil holds a sanctified place in the stories of the Jewish tradition—Judah and Maccabees burned a few precious (seemingly magical) droplets for eight nights, giving thanks to the new olive oil and the very occassion that Hannukah honors. The timing of both traditions aligns in the late autumn, Saltsman notes:

"As with Hanukkah oil, olio nuovo is a fleeting ritual, best savored within a few weeks of its release."

A twist on tradition

Saltsman advises to refocus the Hannukah celebration on the olive oil harvest, suggesting that we forgo the deep-fried pastries and instead celebrate the raw freshness of the new olive oil, as the holiday intends.

"December is peak time for the new oil . . . making olio nuovo a symbolically and seasonally perfect Hanukkah ingredient—and not a bad holiday gift."

Others are catching on

Beyond the city of angels, others have started their own Hannukah tradition highlighting olio nuovo from Italy. Long-time Manicaretti customer Zingerman's Deli hosted a special dinner at their Roadhouse restaurant on the first night of Hannukah, featuring olio nuovo from Tenuta di Capezzana in six dishes over a five-course menu. Zingerman's Founder Ari Weinzweig says:

“The core of the Chanukah story—the miracle of the holy oil that burned for eight days—is pretty surely about new harvest olive oil.”

Buon Hannukah

The Los Angeles Times article highlights Manicaretti's extraordinary olio nuovo and credits founder Rolando Beramendi for his introduction of olio nuovo in the USA in the early 1990s. The article includes full menu with recipes that showcase ways to taste the green fireworks of the new oil—on the humble potato, as a finish for a simple bean soup, and to give a moist crumb to a delicate and bright olive oil cake. Whether you observe Hannukah or not, these are great options for tasting the new oil.

Photo by Kirk McCoy for Los Angeles Times

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