I finally got to try a fantastic artisan olive oil from Italy that’s now available in West Virginia, thanks to two of the Charleston sisters whose family makes it.
Luisa DiTrapano and Lia DiTrapano Fairless graciously offered to share a bottle with me in exchange for my “professional” opinion.
Professional or not, this stuff is fantastic.
Made on the family’s 16-acre estate near the Mediterranean Sea in Sezze Romano, Italy, the cold-pressed, extra-virgin DiTrapano Oil is rich and earthy, with a faint trace of sea salt. It also has a more greenish tint than the yellowish olive oils you see in stores, because it isn’t processed nearly as much.
Because it has such a clean and natural taste, you’ll want to drizzle it over fresh salads, roasted vegetables, bread, pasta or cooked meats — but not use it for cooking or sauteing, which would mask its great flavor.
“Recently, I used the oil to make a basil pesto that was delicious,” Luisa told me. “It’s also great on summer vegetables in a grill basket on the grill!”
She said Chef Rich Arbaugh is using the oil in his bread service at South Hills Market & Café, plus his new burrata cheese dish is drizzled with it.
For my first taste, I splashed a little over vine-ripened sliced tomatoes with a sprinkling of J.Q. Dickinson salt, then did the same thing again but added a drizzle of balsamic glaze to the mix. Divine!
But don’t just take my word for it. You can pick up your own bottle at The Wine & Cheese Shop at the Capitol Market, Eggplant in the Bridge Road Shops and The Shape Shop at Patrick Street. It’s also available for purchase on VillaDiTrapano.com.
That awesome quality comes at a price, though. At $32 a bottle, you’ll definitely want to savor every last drop.
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Last week’s mention that I’m still on a quest to find the area’s best burger drew a response from one reader throwing another hat in the ring.
“If I may add to your burgers to eat list, try Oscar’s Breakfast, Burgers & Brews in Barboursville,” wrote Leslie. The restaurant is in a strip mall on Route 60 down from Kroger and beside Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant, which I’ve been told is great also.
“We stopped last Saturday, and while it’s a tiny place, they make up for it with the size of their burgers,” she said. “Freshly patted, juicy and delicious. And the bun sets it apart, but the FRIES! Oh, my goodness, these French fries are the BEST. They are fresh cut! If you find yourself down that way, give it a try. We received excellent service as well.”
As luck would have it, I recently stumbled upon Oscar’s myself, enjoying a nice burger and beer there with my dad. I went with the recommended Pig Destroyer burger, topped with pulled pork, pepper jack cheese, a fried egg and housemade barbecue sauce.
It was good, but the other burgers I saw flying around me looked pretty awesome as well.
There was the Koerber, with fresh-made slaw, Swiss cheese and spicy German mustard; the Clutch, with avocado, fried egg, bacon and spicy mayo; the Trooper, with Cajun spices, bacon and blue cheese; and the Astro, with bacon, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and barbecue sauce.
Other burgers featured toppings like maple Sriracha or buffalo sauce, and there were turkey, veggie and low-carb options, too.
But those are all in Barboursville, Leslie reminded me.
“The best burger in Charleston is found at The Grill,” she added. “Don’t mess with me.”
Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/foodguy. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as “WVFoodGuy.”