If you’ve ever seen the inside of a professional kitchen, you may have noticed that chefs on the line often decant their oil into squeeze bottles. I saw this trick while working in restaurants in high school and college, but the idea of trying to pour the oil from my mother’s Costco-size jug into a smaller vessel seemed like a recipe for disaster. Plus, I had always followed the conventional wisdom that olive oil should be stored in a dark bottle, and all the fillable squeeze bottles I ever saw were clear. Which is why I was so excited to discover Graza earlier this year.
Graza, which launched in January, sells just two olive oils: Drizzle, a finishing oil, and Sizzle, a high-smoke-point cooking oil, both made from 100 percent single-varietal Picual olives sourced from Jaen, Spain. Generally, single-varietal olive oils are better tasting than cheaper brands that blend multiple strains of olives together. Plus, Picual olives are known for producing extremely shelf-stable oil that retains its flavor longer. The Drizzle olives are harvested first, early in the season in October. When pressed, these young olives yield a spicier flavor, while the more mature Sizzle olives are harvested in November and December, producing a mellower cooking oil. You can buy the bottles separately or as a duo, and Graza also offers a subscription model that saves you a couple of bucks per month.
The chartreuse-and-olive-green squeeze bottle is smartly designed (every single person I’ve had over for dinner has picked up the bottle and exclaimed about the cute illustrations) and brilliantly utilitarian. The squeeze bottle means no slippery caps, no greasy bottles, and, most important, no accidental overglugging. Never again will I overdress a salad or drown my roasted veggies. Instead, I drizzle and douse with precision and control.
As fellow Strategist writer Emma Wartzman wrote in our roundup of the best olive oils, “light, heat, and oxygen are all enemies of olive oil, meaning your best bet is that the liquid gold is contained in a dark glass or entirely opaque bottle.” The plastic Graza uses is completely opaque (and recyclable, for what it’s worth), so it keeps the precious oil inside stable. And, while it takes me about a month to go through a bottle, I didn’t notice any changes in quality.
In my kitchen testing, I found that Sizzle has a very mild flavor, great for frying eggs, searing tuna steaks, and roasting potatoes. It imparts richness and is perfectly pleasant but doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the ingredients themselves. Meanwhile, Drizzle adds a punchy, grassy note to my salad dressings. It has a slightly vegetal, peppery, bright quality that zips through everything, even when drizzled on ice cream with a little Maldon salt. I carefully added a few drops to a dirty martini and felt like I had made a drink worthy of Temple Bar.
And I’m cooking in good company: I’ve since seen the bottles stocked at Yowie and Big Night in Greenpoint, and I noticed the telltale green nib in posts from chefs Bettina Makalintal, Dan Pelosi, and Aimee France (a.k.a. Yung Kombucha). If I had to place a bet on what the next status EVOO is, I’d put all my money down on Graza.
I have lots of great olive oil in my kitchen that I love — from Brightland to Kosterina — but I often find myself rationing the really fancy stuff, saving it for special occasions and dinner-party guests. When I vaguely did the math on the dollar per dash, I began to understand why the expensive stuff should be called liquid gold. Graza, on the other hand, is relatively affordable, so I don’t feel like I need to be so precious with it; in that way, it’s like a really excellent drugstore beauty product. It’s the one I keep reaching for when I want to glug and drizzle with abandon.
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