Greek men used to smear themselves with olive oil, what Homer described in The Odyssey as liquid gold. It seems unfair, then, that Italy -- not Greece -- has become the gold standard for olive oil. Until recently, Greek oils were routinely and covertly shipped by tanker to be mixed with inferior oils from Italian producers. Happily, thats changing. More and more countries in the Mediterranean basin and beyond are reconnecting to ancient traditions by producing high-quality olive oils. The olive tree is a remarkably tenacious plant, able to grow all over the globe, and today olive oils coming out of places like Chile, Croatia, and Tunisia rival -- if not trump -- those from the Boot in terms of taste and value. Wine country is oil country, and olives, like grapes, draw from the land in which they are grown; its common to see knotty olive trees alternated with leafy grape vines. The Colchagua Valley in Chile, where both the best Chilean wines and the new Santiago Limited Edition olive oil are made, boasts long, hot summers that allow the olive to mature slowly and develop an intense flavor. In Tunisia, in the mild Medjerda Valley where Abdel-Majid Mahjoub runs Les Moulins Mahjoub, the oil is sweeter, with hints of green apple. On the western flank of Croatia, olive trees tumble over stone walls on the island of Brac, buffeted by the same breezes that imbue Tuscan olives with their robust grassiness. But to leave Greece out of the mix would be unforgivable. lia olive oil, pressed on the isle of Crete with a rare varietal, is so pure, golden, and virginal, it could have been the oil that launched a thousand ships. Slick Picks 1. Tunisia Les Moulins Mahjoub Grown in the small town of Tebourba, this cold-pressed, hand-decanted organic oil is sweet in taste and low in acidity. Olisur .com 3. Croatia Lozisca The countrys coastline is among the Mediterraneans most beautiful and fertile stretches of land. Lozisca produces some of the sweetest, most flavorful oils in the region. RoundPond com
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