Zingerman’s Ari’s Top 5: Quinta Luna Gaudenzi

Nothing makes our hearts flutter more than receiving wonderful feedback about one of our olive oils. Even more when the compliments come from an incredible food connoisseur like our friend Ari Weinzweig at Zingerman’s! In this week’s Ari’s Top 5 he talks about our latest addition to the Gusti selection of real Italian extra virgin olive oils, Quinta Luna.

Quinta Luna—Excellent Umbrian Elixir in a Bottle

Terrific new olive oil from one of the least known provinces of Italy
Although most American tourists pass it by en route to more famous destinations, there’s a beauty to Umbria that makes it particularly special to stop at. I fell in love with the quiet elegance of the ancient hilltowns ages ago. Away from the hustle and tourist bustle of the bigger cities, small enough to seem quaint, and cultured enough to have great eating and interesting things to experience. It’s the historical home of the color Umber, great wine, wonderful lentils, and fantastic beans. And some terrific olive oil. Like this new arrival from the Gaudenzi family in the town of Trevi.

Beatrice Ughi, the importer who started and owns the firm Gustiamo and who has excellent taste, shared that:

It’s been 15 years since we have chosen a new olive oil producer to join the Gusti family. Fifteen years. Why so long? Because we are dedicated to our olive farmers/millers. Part of the Gustiamo mission is to contribute to our farmers’ livelihoods. When we choose a new olive oil, we commit to the people who make it. We have been getting to know the Gaudenzi family for the past three years. We couldn’t be more delighted. The Gaudenzi family runs an honest and transparent olive oil production. Their trees are beautiful, their mill is technologically next level. Their oil has personality, balance, and is characterized by rare and exciting Umbrian local olive varieties. Notes of artichoke from the Moraiolo olive, complex herbs and tomatoes from the extremely rare San Felice and Borgiona varietals, sweetness from the Dolce Agogia cultivar.

The label on the oil is lovely, and bears the name Quinta Luna, a reference to the five moon cycles that take place between the flowering of the olive trees in the spring and the harvest in the fall. My friend and famous food writer Elizabeth Minchilli who’s spent near all of the last ten months in Umbria with her family (getting out of Rome) says, “We visited Gaudenzi last month, just as they had started pressing. Their oil is fantastic. They have the most advanced system I’ve seen in a while. Amazing.”

The Gaudenzi family harvest very early—a month before most Umbrian farms—leading to lower yields, but more intense and more interesting flavors. Don’t miss the impressive aroma—put your nose up to the top of the bottle after you take the cap off and you’ll know immediately what I mean. Like Umbria itself the oil’s flavor is sort of in the middle, but in the best possible ways. Modest but magical, engaging and elegant. It’s not the hard rock of the pronouncedly peppery oils of neighboring Tuscany, but neither is it the gentle acoustic folk music of the delicate oils of the Italian Riviera either. The oil is boldish but not too big. Slightly buttery, but not too much so. Calming and comforting. Clean and lovely. Slightly sweet. Artichoke. Almond. Green tomato. A long finish.

The Quinta Luna oil is lovely on fish. Awesome on an arugula salad. Really good with steamed Romanesco or drizzled over sautéed local spinach or mushrooms. Superb on roasted sweet potatoes. The Quinta Luna would be wonderful on that fall salad I love so much—chopped celery, Belgian endive, chips of Parmigiano Reggiano, and walnuts dressed with olive oil. (Email me and I’ll send you the write up.) Or simply pour some onto just-cooked pasta. It’s terrific for bruschetta, poured (liberally) onto toasted Paesano bread.