I was recently contacted by Gaea, a company that makes natural and organic Mediterranean/Greek food products. They wanted to know if I had any interest in trying a product or two. Greek AND natural/organic? Sounds right up my alley! I gladly accepted the offer (though I didn’t know what product I was getting) and awaited my package. When it came, I was excited to learn I had some Greek extra virgin olive oil and Corfu cooking sauce.
Now, let me tell you, I can be a bit of an olive oil snob. For cooking, I am okay with many olive oils/extra virgin olive oils, including ones from the grocery store. But for things like dressings and drizzling, I like a nice, tasty…olive-y oil. Many times this ends up being a Greek olive oil and usually when I get hooked on a product, I end up not being able to find it again. Grr.
So, that said, I definitely wanted to use this olive oil in its natural state, as opposed to cooking with it, to see how it tasted.
First, I just dipped my finger into it, and licked my finger. :)
Then, I poured a little onto a plate, grinded a little bit of black pepper over it, and ate it with bread. Oh, did I eat bread. Buying a loaf of French bread for two people is never a good idea. In my defense, I did walk about 3/4 of a mile home–in the heat–with the bread, so I think I deserved to eat a lot of it.
And it was good. So good. The hubs agreed. The olive oil is nice and fruity, but it’s not overpowering. It just tasted nice, and clean and…well, olive-y. :) Well balanced.
Here are two things I immediately loved about the cooking sauce.
1.) I recognized every single ingredient on the label (tomatoes, wine, spices).
2.) There was still a whole bay leaf in the jar!
The first time I used the sauce, I decided to keep it simple and just heat it and serve it on top of some steamed brown rice, which we ate alongside keftedes. It was a tasty, easy way to add flavor to a not-terribly-flavorful rice, and complemented the herbs in the keftedes wonderfully. While I initially liked the sauce, I did find it just a teensy bit sweet for my tastes (more the tomato flavor than the spices like cinnamon – I love spices in my savory foods!). So, the next time I used the sauce, I decided to add a little savory to it to balance it out (on my palate – I’m sure that many people would not find it too tomato-y; my husband didn’t).
That said, I wanted to keep the meal simple. After all, this is something you’d use on a weekday to make things easy on yourself, and not worry about having to go grocery shopping or adding a bunch of stuff you have around to the sauce. What would be the point of that?
So, what I did was sprinkle a small beef roast with salt and pepper and sear it in a little oil on the stove. I put said roast in the crockpot. I then added just about 1/2 cup sliced onions and a couple cloves of garlic to the pan, and deglazed with a little beef broth, and stirred in the cooking sauce. I poured it over the beef, turned it on low and let ‘er rip while I was at work all day. When I came home (to an incredibly delicious smelling house), I shredded the beef (incredibly easy to do with 2 forks as it had been cooking all day), mixed it with some whole wheat pasta, and topped it with myzithra.
It was really delicious, and so easy. It tasted a lot like beef makaronatha (yikes, please excuse that picture), and it took me like 5 minutes to get ready (especially since I had sliced the onions the night before). I am always looking for new ways to use my crockpot, so this was fantastic.
So, I definitely recommend both of these products, and plan to try out some other Gaea oils!