Food Reviews

An award-winning extra virgin olive oil

Introduced By

Japan is in love with the olive oils from New Zealand producer, Telegraph Hill (as am I!) Over the past three years they have won multiple awards at the "Olive Japan - International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition" (try getting your mouth around that), one of the premier olive oil competitions in the world. It's not difficult to understand why, as their products are of the highest quality. However, to be honest, I was quite surprised when I heard this, as I didn't think that olive oil would be a 'thing' in Japan.

Telegraph Hill's extra virgin olive oil is from New Zealand and is best for every-day use

Jump down to the At a Glance summary section (we won’t be too offended!)

Well it turns out that it is! Japan is Asia’s largest per capita olive oil consumer, ranking 14th in the world for consumption. In hindsight, based on the number of Japanese professional chefs cooking in Paris it makes sense that it’s become an ingredient of interest. When I lived in Paris, I witnessed and tasted first-hand the influx of young Japanese chefs taking classical French cooking techniques and adding their own Japanese twist.

Telegraph Hill’s unfiltered estate grown oils result in a thicker and creamier product compared to commercial olive oils

I’m a bit of an olive oil aficionado, with two or three bottles on the go at any one time. I like to try oils from all around the world … many times, a bottle will be the sole souvenir I bring back from my travels.

Choosing which one is the best to use depends on my current mood. I love a peppery, fruity oil drizzled on salads, especially those made with rocket (arugula). A mellow, buttery one to finish off a dish of braised chickpeas and chard, or as a crucial ingredient in an orange almond cake. (If you’re interested in trying a cake made with olive oil – I have a recipe that I can send you!)

Smooth and buttery with a balanced acidity

Sourdough bread with thickly sliced tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and a generous splash of Telegraph Hill's medium intensity extra virgin olive oil
Keeping it simple – really good sourdough, tomatoes, salt and lots of Telegraph Hill extra virgin olive oil

When I’m back visiting New Zealand, I always pick up a bottle of Telegraph Hill’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Medium Intensity Premium Blend. Not only do they win awards in Japan, but they also received a Gold medal in 2018 from Olives New Zealand. It’s such a versatile, well-balanced oil that goes with everything.

What I love about Telegraph Hill’s olive oils:

  • All their oils are extra virgin, which is the highest quality you can get. ‘Extra virgin’ signifies no use of chemicals or heat in the processing.
  • Their proximity to the olives ensures pressing within 24 hours of being picked. Speed is of the essence when producing a fresh, high-quality oil.
  • By cold-pressing their olives, this preserves the quality and doesn’t destroy the antioxidants.
  • They don’t filter their estate grown oil, resulting in a thicker and creamier product when compared to commercially produced extra virgin olive oils.

I’ve visited their HQ in Hawke’s Bay and can attest to the freshness and quality of their products. (Remember, olive oil does NOT get better with age!) For more information about Telegraph Hill and their fantastic range of products, check out my interview with owner, Geoff Crawford.

If you can get your hands on some of this liquid gold, give it a try!

At a Glance

  • Telegraph Hill Extra Virgin Olive Oil Medium Intensity Premium Blend – Tasting Notes

    • Aroma: freshly-cut grass, apples and bananas – yes, that’s right, bananas!
    • Intensity: this is a medium intensity oil, which means you can use it with everything. I love a peppery, throat-clearing olive oil, but for everyday use prefer something a little tamer.
    • Taste: it’s smooth and buttery with a balanced acidity.

  • Serving Suggestion

    A favourite, quick-fix lunch is to roughly chop a couple of juicy tomatoes, add a few basil leaves, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and finish by drowning in olive oil. Pile on top of lightly toasted bread (the crustier the better), perhaps pre-rubbed with a cut garlic clove. Sometimes I might add some torn-up mozzarella. But mostly, that’s it. I always make sure there’s some bread left to mop up the leftover oily tomato juice! Messy to eat, but so good!
  • Where to buy:

    Japan! Telegraph Hill can also ship direct to you, and while it doesn’t make sense to have heavy bottles of oil shipped, they package their olives in resealable pouches making it a lighter option to put in the post.
  • Not visiting NZ (or Japan) anytime soon?

    Unfortunately, a bottle of Telegraph Hill doesn’t last long in my house, so I’m always on the hunt for an alternative. If you’re travelling around olive-producing countries, keep an eye out for locally produced oil. Fortunately for wine lovers, many wineries grow olives alongside their grapes, so check for bottles at the cellar door (my last ‘foreign’ purchase was from a tiny producer located in the Prosecco region of Italy. We had to do a quick u-turn on a narrow farm road, but it was well worth it!)

    Otherwise, an olive oil I adore and recommend is from Nicolas Alziari, Provence, France. Another u-turn was done when I realised that I could buy directly from their shop in Nice (my husband is getting used to my ‘stop the car’ cries!) Here in the UK, it’s available from the supermarket (Waitrose) or online at Souschef (my spies tell me that you can also buy in the US and Canada). You might suffer a mini-heart attack when you see the price, but believe me, it’s worth every penny (or two).

N.B. Many bottles were purchased (and consumed) by Introduced By for the purposes of this review. We have also been very fortunate to receive a further bottle free of charge after a visit to the olivery. No compensation (monetary or in-kind) has been solicited or offered. In fact, they don’t even know that they’re getting this glowing review! We love this product, so the decision to write about it was our own and all views and opinions are our own.

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