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Amazing Fat That Does Not Come From an Animal: Euphoria Olive Oil from Peloponnesus

Euphoria Extra Virgin Olive OilFAT: delicious fat; light, but subtly peppery. From olives; not animals. But in spite of bacon’s stature in taste, this one hasn’t a thing to be ashamed of. Quite to the contrary.

…It was December, 1991 when, as a US Navy exchange officer and navigator of the French missile destroyer DUQUESNE (pronounced kinda like: Duquain), we pulled into port at Patras, Greece on the peninsula of Peloponnese.

And after a few days of doing the standard Greek thing of going to eat dinner at 10-11pm (restaurants are empty until then, even on weekdays) and being shit tired the next day and absolutely needing the 12-4pm siesta break that describes the Greek way of life which is essentially, in my estimation, two days in every one, three other officers from the ship and I decided to rent a car and trek.

Olympia is on that peninsula, so that’s where we headed. As I recall, it’s quite mountainous and along the way near the top of one summit or the other, we came across the typical Greek rural restaurant…some family’s home, with a dining hall attached.

…I must first spend a moment telling you how much I love this. My first experience had been another trip, to Athens. You don’t get the same sense of rural Greece, there. But again, a different ship (Le COLBERT — pronounced like the comedian), a different set of officers and we set out in a rental to the outcropping of Corinth. Having attended divinity school I’d have expected something quite more substantial (actually visiting Biblical places will make you an atheist more than anything). We got there about 1pm to a literally deserted town in any important way. It was so empty and quiet that I had to wonder if Jesus might not actually have come again whilst we were on the road en route and typical, I’d just fucked myself in the last year, ’cause I was assured I’d be along for the ride before I became such a blasphemer. But what the hell, at least I was in good company…sure glad the driver musta been my kinda heathen. And after all, the city’s Biblical, so how could I hold any grudge that they all got raptured out?

Long story only a little longer: we found this family home / restaurant at the southern end of the Corinth canal and they served us a Greek salad, the equal of which I have yet to taste. Not even close. Not anywhere. Price, location, ratings irrelevant. This was the best ever.

Now back to the original story, we stopped at this rural home / restaurant at the top of this mountain with a wondrous view, and it was dead. No customers. Long story short this time, the family roused and prepared us a meal I still remember. Very simple — minimalist, actually — grilled thin lamb chops with essence of garlic & rosemary, drizzled in luscious olive oil. There were other things, but I still seem to recall only the lamb and the way it was prepared and so modestly presented.

…Uh don’t tell the FDA or local food service police, y’know, in this place that lazy, fat, complacent, slumbering "Americans" still ignorantly refer to as "The Land of the Free." It’s complete BULLSHIT! for anyone who has bothered to actually travel or live outside its borders.

LOL.

We made our way from there to Olympia, getting there after noon and as typical, the town was desolate. But being a bit more touristy, there was a shop or two open — even a museum — as I recall. And of course, the original stadium…which is only really impressive if you consider the timeframe, and not the hype surrounding the Olympic Games. But al least we got to see the vestal virgins (I’ll bet) in white silk robes rehearse the lighting of the torch for the 1992 winter Games in Albertville, France.

…OK, Richard, is there, after all, any point to this post?

I’m glad you asked because we did have to get back to Patras, back to out staterooms on the ship. But not before a coupla more memorable encounters. The first was some ancient amphitheater high in elevation which I know only because I recall the snow on the ground. Anyway, it was parabolic, very well preserved, and there was a disc in the very bottom center to stand upon. We found that you could talk at normal volume and be heard in the cheap seats. Fun.

And then it turned dark and we were still on the road, now low on gas. And so it was that we came upon a rural station and filled up. This would have never occurred to me, a crude American lacking in culture, refinements and essential tastes. But the subject turned to olive oil, of all things. You see, while Italians may likely have turned up their noses in stubborn pride, the French are kinda like the Swiss in terms of olive oil neutrality. Or perhaps not, as I recall a few mon dieus expressed in describing the wondrous fruit of the region.

Olive JuiceSo we asked. It was mom & pop and present was the obligatory, pretty fat, nice old lady sitting inside. You could tell she finally understood by the ear-to-ear smile and before we knew it, we had in our possession two, 2-liter bottles of the most lime green olive oil you have ever seen in your life. And it was unfiltered: teentsy, tiny bits of olive colloidally suspended throughout. I described it at the time as "olive juice."

I don’t know how long we spent heading down the road whilst dipping our pinky fingers into those bottles, tasting.

I never, ever forgot it and to this day have always tried to source Greek olive oil. But kalamata olive oil is about all you can get, easily, and even that’s difficult though very worth it in my estimation. The Italians have really fucked us. Or, it’s those excessively late dinners and 4-hour naps on the part of the Greeks…

Whatever the case, I will go to my grave flatly asserting that Italian olive oil is rat piss in comparison to koroneiki olive oil and can barely, but not quite, hold its own against kalamata, my everyday oil.

And so it was on on a day last week while at the mountains when someone, somewhere on Twitter, linked to the wares of the The Konstantopoulos Family Grove in Messinia, Greece, that I immediately linked over, quickly ascertained what could be in store, and having a good idea of what I would rediscover, ordered six bottles without wasting any time.

…The box from Euphoria was sitting on my desk at the office when I returned today.

When I got home I was like a kid at Christmas, but this time, waiting on a rediscovery. I opened a bottle, poured a bit into a dipping cup, and tasted. And there it was: that, at once, sweet of fruit and hot of pepper — all at the same time. Now I’m energized for dinner. It will be no bone-stock based sauce tonight.

I peeled one clove of garlic, crushed it, and put it in the dipping cup along with about 1/4 tsp of dried thyme, filled it with Euphoric nectar and placed it in the oven at 150 to warm & infuse while I got busy. Then I made a standard dijon vinaigrette and pan fried a grassfed flap steak (bavette) in cast iron with just enough leaf lard to avoid sticking. When done, I drained it because I had other plans.

After resting, I sliced it, plated it, and drizzled it with my infusion, which I had strained after suitable time in the oven to pick up some of the garlic & thyme flavors.

Well, my wife Bea, not a huge meat eater, fought me for the last slice. And she won.

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Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

83 Comments

  1. Jason Sandeman on January 4, 2011 at 05:53

    Damn, I never knew about the olive oil situation, learn something new everyday! Now, being married to an Italian, I understand. OTOH, FUCK THAT! I am going to see if I can get the olive oil mentioned in the post here in French land.

  2. Sean on January 4, 2011 at 02:07

    I don’t think the Italians have fucked us, I think they’ve fucked themselves. Cheap mainstream Italian (and Spanish) olive oil is crap and probably adulterated as hell, it has pushed the authentic producers to the fringe. When I first read about olive oil adulteration, I got concerned and tried fridge testing my crap oils. Nada, nic, nothing. Two weeks in the fridge and not even the merest hint of solidification. Not a single particle of slush.

    Then I bought some Il Chiecino at the local high-end deli that’s been a life-saver for us.

    Just opening the bottle and smelling it was quite an experience. Green and pungent, this was what olive oil is supposed to be. IMO, worth the extra price, since it should never be cooked with, it lasts quite a while (3-5 months around Chez Sean).

    I did the fridge test anyway, and it got slushy, not a surprise: (http://praguestepchild.blogspot.com/2010/05/olive-oil-revisited.html)
    I think anyone interested in eating real food ought to be extremely skeptical of their olive oil and consider a serious upgrade. The more people who become aware of the difference between the cheap (probably fake) crap and the real stuff, the more the higher quality producers and distributors will find a market for their goods and services.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 08:20

      Sean:

      Yea, thanks for pointing out that indeed there are great Italian olive oils, but just like this, you gotta pay.

      But you know me. I have to make my points with a sledge hammer. Interestingly, even some of the mid-brand Italian oils you see at the store pass the fridge test. Every winter when we head up to the cabin where the heat has been off, my bottle of OO is always solid, usually at a temp somewhere in the 40s.



    • Sean on January 7, 2011 at 04:14

      Interesting, I suppose that given enough time and coolness even mediocre oils harden if they haven’t been overly adulterated. I’m not even sure how reliable the fridge test really is, but it certainly does seem to be correlated to quality in the four brands I tried it with.



  3. Jim Arkus on January 4, 2011 at 05:19

    I can’t say I was aware of any of this – the differences, Italian vs. Greek, etc – but this entire post was so entertaining that I went and ordered two bottles of the stuff sight unseen. Thanks, Richard!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 08:22

      Let us know how you liked it. They ship quick.



    • Jim Arkus on January 7, 2011 at 07:30

      Jeez, you’re telling me. They beat some other stuff I’d ordered on Amazon the day before. Only problem is one of the bottles leaked a little bit and about a quarter of it was gone. But they’re sending me a replacement bottle. GREAT customer service!

      So anyway, last night after an LG approved workout of deadlifts and chin ups during a 24 hour fast, I kind of parroted your recipe in a simplified way. Cooked two grainfed steaks in grassfed butter on my skillet, and while that was happening I had a third of a cup of the olive oil with some crushed red pepper, two gloves of garlic, and some rosemary from my plant sitting there, hopefully “infusing.” Finished the steak, put it on the plate along with some broccoli, then poured my concoction all over the steak and let it sit.

      Amazing. Easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had. My girlfriend, Kate, walked in while I was gorging myself and I said to her “Don’t get offended because I don’t mean anything by this… but I’m sorry you’re not paleo, because now you’ll never experience how good this steak is.” I may have seen God.



  4. Jim on January 4, 2011 at 06:10

    Hi Richard,
    I married into a Greek family, still with many relatives in Greece.
    Regarding the olive oil, my Greek relatives claim that much of the “Italian” olive oil sent to the US is actually a mixture of Italian oil and lower grade oils from China and other countries.
    Enjoy.

    • Sean on January 4, 2011 at 06:17

      Hence the fridge test. Why leave to others when you can test for yourself?



  5. pecanmike on January 4, 2011 at 06:17

    Great post. I just ordered some. The last thing you turned me on to was High Seas Tuna which is excellent. I’ll pay for good food. Thanks

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 08:29

      Excellent. I love High Seas. Have you tried the smoked, yet? I might not have thought of it except that when I ordered six tins way back when, they sent along a tin of the smoked.



    • pecanmike on January 4, 2011 at 10:53

      Have not tried smoked yet but I have ordered the regular a couple of times. I am mainly a beef and goat eater but a nice salad with tuna at lunch is a nice change up.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 11:14

      Ah, goat. I have the opportunity to get that as part of my monthly CSA (along with beef, lamb & pork). I have thus far excluded goat, never having tried it to my knowledge.

      How would you say it compared to lamb, or is it _like_ anything else, such as venison?



    • pecanmike on January 4, 2011 at 11:38

      I also love lamb but goat is different. I have a lump charcoal slow cooker, a Primo and I will salt and pepper a couple goat legs and wrap them in foil and let them get some smoke for about an hour them wrap them tightly and finish them at about 300 for 5 or 6 more hours until the meat falls off the bone. Fucking delicious. Like a beef roast but with maybe a little exotic twang. My wife also loves it. Serve it with some grilled onions and peppers and guacamole.

      After the initial meal I will make a hash with the meat, potatoes, onions, whatever and that is also fantasic. You don’t read much about goat on these paleo sites but it is really good.



    • Poisonguy on January 7, 2011 at 01:23

      I have goat quite often (it’s ubiquitous in Greece) and recommend it fully. It has a stronger taste than sheep, but it’s the closest taste I can compare it too. Plus, the herder uses the field next to our home to feed them as part of the rotating fields he uses, so we know we are getting good stuff.

      Plus, the tavernas nearby get there lamb from the same guy, so we can always get it there too…to supplement the paidakia. 😉



  6. Jan on January 4, 2011 at 06:52

    I have two small (read: expensive) bottles of Italian olive oil in my fridge. Yes, they are semi-solid – I have to let them sit on the counter before I can use them. Which I do sparingly – I cook and make mayonnaise with the stuff from the grocery store. After reading the comments here, though, I do believe I’ll rethink that strategy.

    I just ordered two bottles of the Euphoria. Let’s not tell my husband I just spent $54 on olive oil, okay?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 08:31

      You sure don’t want to cook with that, Jan, though it doesn’t look like you have that in mind. Hope you like it and mums the word. I was pretty certain I would love it so I got the six bottles for the lower price point. Plus, I’m giving one away to a friend from Greece.



  7. Lute Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 10:15

    We have a local olive oil producer here in Modesto. Try it, you’ll like it.
    http://www.sciabica.com/pages/Family-History.html

  8. Fred Hahn on January 4, 2011 at 12:54

    Richard thanks for the blog. Bet you didn’t know that Euphoria is my wife’s olive oil company! We get to eat the stuff every night. We have tried MANY other olive oils and nothing beats ours. Seriously.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 14:09

      I had no idea, Fred. What a damn coincidence. Well, it’s great then to support people doing so much good for others in other ways, too.



    • Linda Hahn on January 5, 2011 at 10:09

      Thanks from me too, Richard! My best friend and business partner Lori Konstantopoulos and I feel so strongly about her family’s oil that we teamed up to bring it to the US. We both really appreciate your great support, and I know she has also thanked you on behalf of the Greek contingent without whom there would be no Euphoria! You are giving a voice to authentic olive oil that needs to be heard!



    • Poisonguy on January 7, 2011 at 01:25

      Hi Linda…is it possible to find out whether the olive pits are removed prior to pressing or are they crushed with the olive flesh? Thanks.



    • Lori Konstantopoulos on January 7, 2011 at 07:02

      Lori here, Linda’s business partner. The olive pits are not removed prior to pressing. After the leaves and branches are removed, the olives are washed and then crushed with the pit. The resulting pulp is then mixed for a while which enables the oil to come together. The paste then goes through a rapidly spinning centrifuge system which allows the oil to be easily pulled from the paste. One usually sees pits removed for larger table olives such as the Kalamata olive.



    • Poisonguy on January 11, 2011 at 00:56

      Thank you very much for the response, Lori.

      Typically, when olive oils are produced with crushed pits the omega 6 to 3 ratio increases. That is a reason I usually go for non-crushed olive oils personally (and I have the pick of the litter in terms of choices living in Greece). So, I’m curious if you know whether the Konstantopoulos family have had their oil tested for this ratio? I’d be interested in trying to oil. Good luck bringing quality olive oil to the States.



    • Lori Konstantopoulos on January 11, 2011 at 07:29

      That’s great that you live in Greece…you get to enjoy so much delicious food and authentic olive oil in this small corner of the world! I’ve lived in Greece for the past 20 years myself, and though I am now back and forth between Greece and the US for Euphoria I still consider Greece home.

      Euphoria has not been tested for the omega 6 to 3 ratio. We have had Euphoria tested by the Greek Ministry of Economy’s Section of Chemical Laboratories to be certified extra virgin. The certification does not require analysis of the omega content, however.

      As to removing the pit prior to pressing, Euphoria olive oil is pressed from 100% Koroneiki olives, a very tiny olive with a very high oil content that is rated highly. Its small size would make it virtually impossible to remove the pit for pressing. Just to be sure, I inquired with someone at the chemical laboratory who tests olive oils from all over Greece, and she said she has never known Koroneiki to be pitted prior to pressing. If you know of any such instance, please let us know!

      And if you decide to take a leap of faith on the omega 6 to 3 ratio we don’t think you’ll be disappointed! The Koroneiki varietal is native to the southern Peloponnese and thus ideally suited to local growing conditions where our family grove is located. The olive itself has a unique natural balance of fragrance, great flavor, high antioxidants, and very stable shelf life within the same fruit, so it does not need to be blended with other olives to be improved, and is a great natural expression of our local ‘terroir’. The microclimate where our olive trees grow, at the base of Mount Taygetos, also plays a strong role…the same Koroneiki olive produces a considerably different flavor just ten miles over, as you undoubtedly know.



    • Poisonguy on January 11, 2011 at 23:40

      You’ve been so kind that I’ll give your oil a try. Euharisto poli.



    • Lori Konstantopoulos on January 11, 2011 at 23:45

      Parakalo!



  9. Skyler Tanner on January 4, 2011 at 13:01

    I love chimichurri and I look forward to trying this simpler olive infusion.

    Fortunately, our local market directly sources koroneiki from Greece so I’ll pick up a bottle and give it a go.

  10. Elliot on January 4, 2011 at 14:33

    “…lazy, fat, complacent, slumbering Americans….”

    Europeans are less productive and far less ambitious than Americans, on average. The entrepreneurial impulse in Europe is rare because it has been smothered so effectively. Their governments are (at least for now), more socialistic and more corporate-state oriented, more paternalistic, and generally more corrupt. And, good luck actually trying to obtain the means to defend your life in most countries there.

    Is it OK to mention such downsides to these marvels of culture and cuisine, because they tend to have leaner bodies and eat more whole foods, on average?

    and, “…crude American lacking in culture, refinements and essential tastes.”

    How much does a Greek or Brit know of gyozas or collard greens? Do you think they give a shit whether they are “lacking in culture, refinements and essential tastes” when it comes to Japanese or Southern American cuisine? Are they racked with feelings of inferiority? I kind of doubt it.

    I see what you’re putting down in the first sentence. Because of the unprecedented economic affluence, a huge percentage of Americans have, over the last several decades, managed to be able to afford to eat far more calories than needed and to be able to use their minds, rather than their brawn, to make a living. And, the technology and industry has lead to unfortunate consequences in the way of unnatural “foods”.

    But when gushing about how wonderful something in Europe is, to make insulting swipes at Americans by way of comparison is such a pathetic cliche. I realize you’re not one of those self-loathing Americans who think that what’s wrong with the US is lack of universal health care, “free” college, draconian gun control, and exorbitant tax rates to pay for massive bureaucracies. I always laugh at such people who similarly gush about Europe while insulting Americans, as though they expect to ingratiate themselves to Europeans. In reality, not only will Europeans still look down their noses at such self-loathing Americans, but they’ll actually think less of them for being such pussies.

    I really hate to see you making remarks which are so reminiscent of such people, even though I know you’re not one of them.

    I’ve dined at fine restaurants with Greeks and Italians, enough to see that there is much of the world I don’t know. But then, I know more about Japanese, Southern American, Tex-Mex, and probably a few other types of food than they do. So what?

    The cultural greatness of Europe is centuries in the past. American culture peaked far more recently and was a more successful boon to the world, even if it is being eroded by statists and idiots. It’s all well and good to enjoy the food from other cultures, to check out their art and relics, to sample their music and observe their celebrations and rituals. But beyond such superficial things, most other cultures have very little to offer in the way of philosophy and innovation. Sure, Asia seems to have booming economic expansion. But they are using technology for the most part invented here and exploiting cheap labor. They’re still run by dictators, oligarchies, and even a Communist Party police state which has relented on the rights squashing just a bit to promote economic growth.

    Would you want to live in any of these places?

    How do you think your entrepreneurial accomplishments would have gone over in Europe?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 4, 2011 at 15:02

      Hey Elliot.

      I get where you’re coming from, I really do.

      I’ve always loved the idea of America, but it’s not here, anymore; or, as I always do, use “Land of the Free” in quotes. Elvis has left the building. America now only exists in hearts and minds the world over, without borders.

      And yes, I do plan to move permanently from Amerika one of these days. I lived abroad for 8 years: 5 in Japan, 2 in France. I visited and vacationed in about 30 countries in that time. In terms of quotidian personal freedom, America is among the very least free of any country I’ve ever been to.

      As to entrepreneurism, I don’t honestly know, because I never looked into starting a business. I came back to the US to do that simply because of language & culture issues. I knew entrepreneurs in both Japan and France who did well and do not seem to overburdened. I knew tons of expats in Thailand who owned bars, restaurants, hotels, resorts and did booming business and had virtually zero regulation about anything. And at least a shop or bar owner in virtually any country can serve smokes or drinks to just about anyone they please, never check ID (America is the only country in the world that does that) or any of that fucking nanny bullshit.

      Fuck, I can go into a fucking gelato shop anywhere in fucking italy and get a fucking jonny walker red, on the fucking rocks. America is now only a nation of fucking busy-body whiners and hyper-risk-averse cowards.

      Three years ago, my wife & I did a 3-wk driving tour of Europe, from Paris to Barcelona, along the med all the way to Pisa, Florence, Switzerland, Germany and back toParis. In all, 6,000 KM. Other that at the border crossing into Andorra and then Switzerland, and two cop cars seen in Florence, I never saw a single cop, highway patrol, or anything the entire time, 6,000 KM, 7 countries.

      This past summer we went back, for a week this time and I saw one cop on a motorcycle in Rome, once, and not a single one during a half-day’s drive to cinque terre, and back.

      So until you’ve lived and travelled extensively and had to actually get out of the tourist routes and blaze a trail, you lack a lot of perspective as to what true personal liberty is all about.

      America does not have it and I’d venture to say hasn’t, since perhaps the 70s.



    • Elliot on January 4, 2011 at 15:43

      I lived in Okinawa and Japan as a kid. I can say that the work ethic there makes most Americans look slovenly by comparison, for example. On the other hand, individualism has a far tougher time there, as the culture encourages collectivism and conformity. So, I can admire aspects of that culture without being jealous or loathing of my homeland.

      Comparisons of smoking, drinking, and traffic cops may have some value, though they may also be anecdotal. I’ve never been to Europe, myself, though I’ve known quite a few who have, to include my father and step-father-in-law, as well as a number of nationals from a variety of countries, some who have become citizens. The Italians and Greeks I know put down their homelands for the dearth of entrepreneurial energy. I’m not talking about a food stand, but about a real retail or tech company. They also put down the governments for the entrenched bureaucracies and government-corporate stranglehold. Some are even wise enough to see the ruination of socialism. As far as freedom to start a small business, I’ll take their word over some American who spent a short while there.

      Also, imagine being a European tourist here in America, with enough money to rent a car and visit the nicer places. I daresay you wouldn’t encounter the same problems that a poor or lower middle class American with dark skin might run into in the less affluent areas of Americas.

      I have read quite a few (anecdotal, to be sure) accounts of ugly encounters with police in the UK at places like TheAgitator and Samizdata. I can’t imagine anyone making the case that the UK has more freedoms than the US. As for the mainland, maybe you can’t smoke and drink here like you can there, and maybe traffic cops are worse in the US, but I can’t imagine living in a place where owning a gun is pretty much out of the question. I’m not a gun collector or hunter, but just knowing that I’m completely prohibited to use such a simple tool for self defense strikes me as completely intolerable.

      Besides a few Swedes and Germans in the 1800s, all of my ancestors were here before the revolution. I guess I might have a different attitude if my family had more recent immigrants, but I’ll be damned if I ever abandon this place, no matter how far downhill it goes.



    • Poisonguy on January 5, 2011 at 02:28

      Putting down Italy and Greece by the Italians and Greeks is the national pastime. The locals here (I live in Greece) can’t have a conversation without saying something negative/derogatory about their homeland. Tell them to leave if the hate it so much and you’ll receive an hour-long earful about how Greece is the best place in the world to live and how the Greeks are the greatest people and why they’ll never leave. Personally, I left the US to marry a Greek gal and was a patriotic guy about the US (although I’m Canadian), but one thing I noticed once I got here is that my way of driving (I tend to drive fast) didn’t get me any tickets or attention from the cops here. Plus many other subtle things like that. It’s a let live kind of society. Land of the Free is only a marketing ploy. False advertising/propaganda.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2011 at 09:16

      Yes, subtile things like that. And it’s weird because these are heavily socialist societies and we tend to associate that with heavy regulation. In a sense, it’s somewhat opposite from here – more economic control or oppression, less personal nanny state oppression. Likely tougher for the entrepreneur, a spirit that likely lacks because of regulation, in part, but it’s the personal level of minding ones own business and let live that touches most peoples lives on a daily basis and that’s why I feel freer over there and most other places than here.



    • Elliot on January 5, 2011 at 10:45

      Couldn’t part of your feelings be due to the fact that you’re a tourist there, being catered to, while you’re a businessman here, having to deal with things like city buses smashing into your company car and being legally “blameless”?

      Compare Las Vegas to London, for example. Or a small bucolic village in Greece to a corrupt town in Louisiana. If you pick and choose right, you could portray one place as superior to the other, but the thing is that you’ve got a large number of cities, towns, regions, and enclaves in Europe and the US. Not only that, but each individual has a different experience.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2011 at 11:20

      Partly, but don’t forget that I lived abroad for eight years, rented a house, paid bills, shopped, drove a car (as well as a 1000cc motorcycle in Japan) and so on.

      Hell, I was also in China in 1986 and the USSR in 1990 and the only place I’ve ever seen more cops on patrol was China. But people in the US seem inoculated to the continual presence, thinking they’re there to “protect & serve” when more often than not, they’re just looking to raise revenue or hassle people for their own advancement.



    • Sean on January 7, 2011 at 06:07

      I get what you are saying about feeling ‘more free’ in a place like Russia or China, I certainly get that feeling, to a certain extant, here in Prague. Not sure why, maybe just knowing I could drink a beer in front of the local pub in the summer or the dog days of autumn (even if I don’t drink beer anymore), or just the general anarchy and silliness of the legal system.

      Still, I beg to differ about the police ‘just looking to raise revenue’ issue. I’m a big, big fan of the rule of law. People drive like assholes in Central Europe and Russia yet at the same time one can be pulled over at any time arbitrarily and given a ticket for things like not have a fire extinguisher in the car (in Russia). In the US if you drive like a human you generally won’t be fucked with. My wife, who is a very safe driver, never once got pulled over in The States during the year we lived there. Here she gets tickets fairly regularly, driving carefully with a kid in the back. Meanwhile, people regularly get away with insane, dangerous driving. Here the police really are just looking to raise revenue, for themselves, in the form of cold hard cash.

      The law, being completely arbitrary, ceases to lose meaning. It is simply what one can get away with, and if one has the money to bribe, that is practically anything.



    • Elliot on January 7, 2011 at 10:05

      I’m still rubbing my eyes over the USSR remark. I’m guessing you didn’t see the GULAGs or “mental hospitals” as a visitor, either. Though I’m not sure what that has to do with measuring the freedom of a place.

      I’ve read accounts of tourists in post-USSR Moscow being hit up for bribes by police (“militia”, I think) on a regular basis. The explanation was that the cops were paid peanuts and thus exploited their power to essentially rob people at will. So, even while the government machinery which so efficiently chewed up Soviet residents was falling apart and freedom was arguably improving in the former republics, the police presence and corruptness may have been a counterweight to such changes.

      My son and his cousin had a run in with police in Mexico, who were threatening to detain them on a bogus charge as they were headed to the cruise ship. They were saved by some cruise ship musicians who talked the police out of arresting the boys, luckily, but I wonder how many other Americans end up tossing a few hundred bucks to avoid missing the boat. The rest of our group never saw a cop. I saw Cuban cigars for sale, which I can’t get here, and my 20-year-old son was able to buy alcohol there, which he couldn’t do here. I still don’t see how such anecdotal experiences should lead me or my son to draw sweeping conclusions about the place.

      You point out how the UK is a police state now. I’m flabbergasted to read what the British tolerate over there, particularly when I read the comments of people justifying the mistreatment of their countrymen. (Reading the comments of “Americans” in response to things from the TSA molestations to violent DEA rampages similarly fills me with dismay.) That said, there are aspects of British culture which I still recognize as being superior to the rest of Europe, not to mention other parts of the world. Keeping a stiff upper lip, devotion to honor and integrity, a respect for intellectual curiosity—perhaps waning virtues amongst the British today, but they still make the Brits I know who were brought up right to have superior character, even if they were insufferably willing to bow to “legitimate authority”.

      “Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it is all organised by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organised by the Italians “.

      If we could pick and choose cultural traits and subsets of people from here and there, and ship the “frozen telephone sanitisers, hairdressers, and advertising account executives” to an alternate planet, what a wonderful world this would be.



    • Elliot on January 5, 2011 at 10:23

      I call bullshit on the notion that Europeans are more free than Americans, because the comparisons being offered up are anything but comprehensive. Freedom cannot be boiled down to traffic cops, smoking, and drinking. There are taxes, regulations, gun ownership, choice in health care, cost of gasoline, toys for pigs, etc..

      I’m not an apologist for the US, either. If you want to talk about the “Land of the Free”, just look at my website at the tombstone graphic I made in 2008.

      As far as the tendency of locals to deride their homeland, then turn around and praise it, an Italian friend recently described that apparent paradox to me nearly verbatim of your own words.

      But it’s also important to make a distinction between criticisms of government and praises of cultural traditions, for example. My Italian friend loves most of the culture of his birthplace but despises the political machinery which has stifled ambition. It’s wrong to view that as being contradictory. Most of the confusion over this apparent inconsistency is a result of the ambiguous collective fallacy (like saying “Italy” or “Italians” sometimes to refer to the people in government and sometimes to refer to the man on the street).

      Likewise, as an American, I can spend hours explaining all the things that are happening in the US which are rotten, but turn around and praise this country (particularly by way of comparison to everywhere else). And, I don’t even have to change hats to do so, because for the most part, the people I criticize and the people I praise are usually different people, who just so happen to both be called “Americans”.

      But what I avoid doing is to bitch about the US to foreigners, particularly if they are critics. It’s one thing to trade stories with an intelligent person willing to make objective comparisons, where we can both see the good and bad in our own homelands. It’s quite another to try to “fit in” with snobs who don’t appreciate what is/was best about the US, who only see the “Ugly American” stereotype and know next to nothing beyond that–and wouldn’t bother learning anything if you paid them. It’s a bit of gazing at one’s navel, contemplating how wonderful it is that world-changing events happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago in this place and they didn’t happen over there.

      I have no use for such people, unless they’re cooking up some lamb chops, perhaps. And, then it’s just a temporary business exchange.



    • VW on January 4, 2011 at 15:05

      As Sgt. Hulka once said, lighten up, Francis.



  11. VW on January 4, 2011 at 15:04

    Okay, Richard, I just ordered a bottle based solely upon your recommendation. You’re on the hook for this.

  12. Gene on January 4, 2011 at 16:04

    I think I’ll order one as a gift. Looks great, and your recommendation doesn’t hurt.

  13. Contemplationist on January 4, 2011 at 19:08

    Hey Richard.

    Just ordered a bottle for a try. This one’s all on you! I’m totally skeptical of much difference between olive oils, but I’m totally ignorant of them so obvly I would think that!

  14. Lori Konstantopoulos on January 4, 2011 at 22:42

    Thanks so much for the great blog Richard…you captured the essence and soul of Euphoria beautifully and have done our family’s olive oil justice! Support from people like you who get what real authentic olive oil is all about is invaluable…Bravo sou!

  15. Poisonguy on January 5, 2011 at 02:37

    Hey Richard, just in case you go to a Greek restaurant and want to re-experience the lamb chops, here’s a suggestion. In the neighborhood, if a foreigner goes to a “taverna” and asks for lamb chops they’ll get something the resembles a pork chop, because Greeks think that’s what foreigners want or mean when they order a chop. But what you are likely talking about is the small luscious ribs. Locally (that means in Greek), they are called paidakia (pie-DA-kia), which is Greek means heaven (not really). You order a half kilo of paidakia in a Greek taverna, you’ll get a plate of the select chops with the characteristic round of lamb and one end of the bone with the rest of the bone being a thin strip of meat layered with a fatter strip of fat (Greeks love foreigners using their language). Is your mouth watering yet? Enjoy your next plate of paidakia…I think I’ll head over to Kalyvia tonight for some. Kali orexi.

    • Poisonguy on January 5, 2011 at 02:39

      Sorry for all the typos. Blame it on the paidakia.



  16. Kevin Hughes on January 5, 2011 at 08:08

    “And at least a shop or bar owner in virtually any country can serve smokes or drinks to just about anyone they please, never check ID (America is the only country in the world that does that) or any of that fucking nanny bullshit.”

    I have worked in bars in Canada, England and Scotland. We checked ID in all those places.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2011 at 08:22

      Yea, I still haven’t replied to Elliot’s comment but Great Britain is basically a police state just like the US (I have never been there). And of course, Canada in large part has a lot of the same nanny mentality.

      The lesson of America is that never again ought you let a bunch of puritans get in a boat. 🙂

      That’s a joke, BTW.

      But seriously, eight years of living and traveling abroad (much in my early 20s) and never was there any such thing as carding and teens would regularly gather in bars & other places.

      In Japan, I could walk a few hundred feet from my house and but not only beer from vending machines, but bottles of whiskey.



    • Kevin Hughes on January 5, 2011 at 09:42

      Of all those places, Canada is much the worse. You still can’t buy beer or wine in grocery stores or convenience stores in most pats of Canada, Quebec being an exception; far less puritanical with strong ties to Europe I guess.

      As an aside, I remember my Dad warning me before I went to France; “You’re guilty until proven innocent” which helped me keep my nose clean. It seems despite the stated presumption of innocence that the US is heading that way too.



    • gallier2 on January 5, 2011 at 12:14

      Quebec is catholic, that makes a huge difference. The special link (interest) of Quebec to Europe (mainly France) is imho a relative recent developpment (after De Gaulle’s speech “vive le Québec libre” in 1968).



    • Elliot on January 5, 2011 at 11:00

      According to a Greek friend, there was no drinking age when he lived there, but teenage drunkenness was not a problem. I’m a big critic of prohibition and regulation of intoxicants, for a long list of reason. One reason is that making something verboten often results in young people using an unmeasured or unknown quantity in an underground location. Having some wine in a public place with responsible adults in proximity is almost never going to be as dangerous as a secret keg party when the parents are out of town.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2011 at 11:34

      Yep, and in the Med region, even kids often get a little wine mixed with water for meals. Wine is considered food. Liquor is considered an appetizer. Alcohol in general is associated with eating, socializing and relaxing at the table.



    • gallier2 on January 5, 2011 at 12:23

      Do you know what my 10th birthday present was, from my Calabrese (south Italy) neighbours?
      They gave me a bottle of Marsala all’ uovo ) 18° sweet wine.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 5, 2011 at 12:27

      That could get you tossed in jail here in the US.

      We’re so fucking stupid here we’ll toss parents in jail who supervise a party for their teens, with alcohol, figuring it’s a lot safer than what they’re gonna do on their own anyway.

      Americans are into this zero tolerance (zero thinking) thing.



    • rob on January 5, 2011 at 12:09

      My parents are immigrants and I used to get a bit of beer or wine at family gatherings, but the weirdest thing when I was a child was drinking milk when I started school.

      I had never had milk without coffee in it, and the taste of regular milk was utterly repugnant to me, it took years before I could drink it. Asking for coffee in your milk in an elementary school cafeteria gets you nowhere.

      Putting coffee in a 4 year old’s milk would probably be strange by today’s standards but it would never have occurred to my parents to give me milk without coffee in it.



  17. Fred Hahn on January 5, 2011 at 12:30

    Richard –

    I need to make a correction. My wife freaked when she saw I said it was “her” company. So as not to get my ass kicked in, I need to clarify that Euphoria Olive Oil is the oil made by the Konstantonopolous family from their groves. Lori Konstantonopolus and my wife Linda started a company called Greek Artisanal Imports and ship this oil from their family groves to GAI. They named it Euphoria.

    I hope I got that right. Women can be tough.

    • VW on January 5, 2011 at 12:58

      Can’t you outrun your wife? 😉

      Hey, Fred, did Euphoria get a sales bump since this article went up? I can’t wait for my shipment to come in. Reading this made me realize how much I’ve been getting by with cheapo olive oil.



  18. Fred Hahn on January 5, 2011 at 14:00

    We did get a decent amount of orders. My wife and Lori were thrilled. Thanks for your order – you will not be disappointed. The stuff is addictive.

  19. Sarah on January 5, 2011 at 19:31

    Like I needed another post-holiday gift for myself. Yum – can’t wait! Next time hook us up with a coupon code 😉

  20. AJP on January 6, 2011 at 06:03

    I’m going to order some for sure.

    Where did the blog roll go Richard?
    Click on it and there is nothing.

  21. Mallory on January 6, 2011 at 13:32

    droooooling after your description of succulent food haha. i am so in a hole financially right now i am living on tuna, sardines, eggs, sour cream and crappy butter….with frozen veggies

  22. Debbie on January 6, 2011 at 16:50

    Cool post. Ever since I made a trip to Greece in 1994 I have hankered after Greek olive oil, but can never seem to find it anywhere. I’ve gone and ordered a bottle of the Euphoria. Pretty pricey for someone currently unemployed, LOL. I hope I’ll love it as I won’t be able to order it often, so need to enjoy while I can.

  23. Contemplationist on January 6, 2011 at 19:46

    Since I’m no olive oil connoisseur, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to notice much of a difference from my regular department store olive oil. So I tasted it first, and then tasted the Greek one I ordered couple days ago due to this post. Man, your description was perfect! Tasting the regular oil made me feel pukey and disgusted, but the Greek one was pleasant! And that tingly spice at the back of the throat – wow.

    I’m hooked. You’ve definitely given them a new loyal customer.

  24. wilberfan on January 7, 2011 at 09:24

    You fucker.

    After reading this I just HAD to try some… I just ordered one bottle.

    I don’t think I’ve spent $34 (including shipping) for ANYTHING edible… 😉

    • wilberfan on January 7, 2011 at 09:42

      (And the irony is, I put off reading this post for several days (because it was so lengthy)…!)



  25. Richard Nikoley on January 7, 2011 at 09:53

    “You fucker”

    Who, moi?

    🙂

    • wilberfan on January 7, 2011 at 10:06

      Yes, YOU!

      Just got off the phone with Lori (great gal!) and we had a long conversation about olive oil–and about YOU, Sir! She was very impressed with your write up–and NOT because of the sudden increase in orders.

      Seriously, she was impressed (as was I) with it’s credibility and it’s he-knows-what-he’s-talking-about-ness. She also emphasized that you had done it on your own–there was no product-in-exchange-for-praise going on… (Which was obvious to me.)

      I should have my bottle by the end of next week (it’s gotta get from NYC to LA), and I’m lookin’ forward to it!



    • Richard Nikoley on January 7, 2011 at 11:21

      That’s cool and no surprise, all at the same time.

      Given the quality of the people involved.



  26. Willis Morse on January 7, 2011 at 11:34

    I placed my order yesterday at noon and my bottle showed up today at 11. Now that’s service.

    This is some great stuff. I generally hate olive oil. Now I know why: I wasn’t using olive oil 🙂

    I’m going to try your infusion on a brisket tonight. Any other good ideas for what to do with this stuff? It’s expensive enough that I want to use it in ways that highlight it, rather than bury it in some sauce.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 7, 2011 at 11:46

      Willis:

      Well. I’m experimenting too. i already use Kalamata regularly, for years, which I get from TJs and it’s decent. I rarely go to the trouble of a vinaigrette. I just drizzle the oil on the salad, toss, taste for coating consistency, then add either fresh lemon juice, lime, balsamic, or some combination.

      But now I want to try a salad with none of those other things but the oil.

      Also, quality tuna, canned, as in High Seas Tuna. I want to try a drizzle on that.



    • Willis Morse on January 7, 2011 at 12:03

      Thanks for reminding me about the tuna; just fired off an order for that, too. You could probably run a pretty lucrative shop reselling all this stuff. Or how about a “Free the Animal Approved” logo program… worked great for the AHA 🙂

      BTW – I’ve been meaning to send out a general thank you for all the food preparation posts. I’ve been having a lot of success playing around with stock and wine reductions; I never tried them before your posts, and it makes all this meat a lot more interesting.

      Any thoughts on bulk preparation of these reductions and sauces? The prep time for these things are a killer; I’m getting tired of making it all from scratch for each meal. I’ve had a lot of problems with reusing sauces after a few days in the fridge; they get pretty funky. Have you tried making a week’s worth at once?



  27. Richard Nikoley on January 7, 2011 at 12:33

    Willis:

    Have never tried bulk. Have thought about it, but done nothing. I suppose that in the end, I just like doing it. I really do.

  28. Susan on January 7, 2011 at 15:32

    What does the ‘refrigerator’ test indicate exactly. My TJ’s olive oil doesn’t look any different in the frig, nor does my fancy estate grown stuff.

  29. Obsolete on January 9, 2011 at 19:29

    The best olive oil I’ve ever had is the most recent bottle I bought. I just looked at the label; “product of Greece.” Coincidence?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2011 at 19:31

      Trader Joe’s has a very decent Greek Kalamata EVOO that has been my standard, up to now.



  30. VW on January 10, 2011 at 17:05

    Just got mine delivered. Will try it out tomorrow.

    Thanks for the tip, Richard, and thanks for the stuff, Euphoria.

  31. Fred Hahn on January 11, 2011 at 04:35

    Poisonguy –

    Do you have any papers to support the idea that crushing the olive pitts into the oil changes the O3/O6 ratio for the better or worse? I’d like to read any scientific evidence you might have on this.

    Thanks!

  32. mike on January 11, 2011 at 07:49

    Hey Richard! Great site. I just wanted to add that with your out-of-the-box, anti-conventional wisdom applied to health, diet and nutrition, why have you not applied those same skills and thinking to religion and God? Obviously Christianity ruined it for you like many. In my opinion it was designed that way, as a stumbling block to be overcome. You can do it.

  33. Richard Nikoley on January 11, 2011 at 11:18

    “anti-conventional wisdom”

    If being an atheist for 20 years and a free-market anarchist for just about as long isn’t anti-conventional wisdom, then nothing is.

  34. wilberfan on January 17, 2011 at 10:22

    My Euphoria arrived late last week.

    Hmmm. No Olive Oil Nerdgasm. I was disappointed.

    Have made half-a-dozen salads topped with it. Have licked it off a well-drenched finger. I don’t dislike it, but it doesn’t live up to the hype (yet). I strongly suspect that my taste buds aren’t ‘educated’ enough to fully appreciate it. I intend (but haven’t yet) to perform a taste test between it and my Trader Joe’s Kalamata Extra Virgin.

    I’m not unwilling to buy another bottle when this one is gone–but that *might* change after comparing the Euphoria to some other oil(s). Have to see if the taste difference (for me) is worth another $12-$15 a bottle?

    Don’t despair. I don’t think I can tell the difference between a really good wine and a two-buck-chuck, either. Very little experience in either the olive oil or vino areas…

    • Richard Nikoley on January 17, 2011 at 11:13

      I didn’t expect everyone would love it, and of course, my testimonial is from my own experience. I use the TJs Kalamata as well. The distinctive difference is the spiciness of Euphoria, but some people may either not like that, or otherwise not appreciate it ’cause it’s no big to them. And nobody ought feel any obligation to like it simply because I do or other commenters do.



    • wilberfan on January 17, 2011 at 13:49

      Yeah, I just took a swig straight out of the Euphoria bottle–and the peppery aftertaste is fun–but I’m not sure if it’s $33-worth of fun. The ‘main’ flavor isn’t that different to *me* than my TJ’s.

      I don’t regret the purchase–and I REALLY admire what they’re doing–but I may explore other ‘higher-quality’ options that aren’t *quite* so *quality* when this bottle is empty. (And I’m definitely going to hang onto the bottle–in case I want to store a less-expensive oil!)



    • Lori Konstantopoulos on January 19, 2011 at 00:10

      Olive oil is something my business partner and best friend Linda Hahn and I are passionate about, so it has been exciting for us to follow this conversation, and we’d like to weigh in here. First, a nice thing to know about that peppery zing is it indicates high levels of oleocanthal, a chemical found naturally in fresh olive oil that acts as an anti-inflammatory similar to ibuprofen but with no negative side effects. The following is a link to a recent study on the subject which you may find intriguing.

      That said, one cannot, and should not, discount taste preferences. Whatever olive oil works for you, make sure your olive oil has been stored in a dark glass bottle or tin. If the packaging has a press date even better since quality deteriorates over time. Also, try to make sure your evoo is authentic because the industry still engages in unscrupulous practices, as any google search will reveal. We know this through personal experience as well. Every year my family sells its surplus oil from the previous year to Italy where it is relabeled Italian. Which is why our preferred choice of supermarket oils is always of Greek origin…for the price they are great backups to have in our cabinet when our family stock runs low, and work wonderfully as cooking oils. TJ Kalamata and Fairway Koroneiki come to mind.

      Sometimes people don’t realize what fresh authentic olive oil like Euphoria can do for food. A simple drizzle at the end can take the most inconsequential ingredient to an entirely other level. Try this…puree steamed cauliflower and then blend with some herbed goat cheese, a tsp or two of heavy cream, salt and pepper. Then drizzle with fresh Euphoria at the end. We find this simple recipe a delectable side dish or vehicle for gravy. Maybe you will too.

      Bottom line…if you’re swigging your evoo straight up or drizzling on food, it’s good to know your producer, whatever olive oil taste suits your fancy. The rest is up to you. We’re not born knowing what to drizzle where…we learn tasting and experimenting as we go along. Enjoy!



    • wilberfan on January 19, 2011 at 08:51

      Lori, you’re reminding me that learning truly can be fun! Who knew there was such difference in olive oils out there? Keep up the good work! Wherever I ultimately end up on the cost/quality matrix, it’s good to know Euphoria is available and setting a very high standard…



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