2007_02_food_olive.jpgThe great divide between New York City restaurant chefs and serious home cooks is becoming narrower by the day. Chefs pen guest columns for the New York Times telling us what to look for when buying turnips and get interviewed by bloggers about where the most durable knives can be found, all in the name of improving the home cook’s game. A chef might even be followed around the city in order for us to learn, for example, which Chinatown street vendor has the best charcoal-grilled chicken hearts. These things all are well and good, but here is one product used in many high-end restaurant kitchens- up until now a well-kept secret, really- that isn’t available in many, if any, New York gourmet food stores, despite the breadth of all the cold-pressed, virgin, and refined choices to be found. Yes, it’s a type of olive oil, one that chefs don’t want you to know about.

Formerly available exclusively to restaurants with globetrotting chefs, and completely unavailable to consumers in the U.S. until very recently, Terre Bormane is a private label olive oil made from Ligurian taggiasca olives. Daniel Boulud at Daniel and db bistro moderne uses the stuff, as does Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park and Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern. It comes in two varieties: Riviera di Fiori, an unfiltered, pure taggiasca bottled at the beginning of the harvest season and slapped with a D.O.P. designation (like Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano), and Colombino, a blend of 3-4 olive types pressed each fall. While the Riviera di Fiori is a 6,000 bottle per year limited edition and comes numbered as such, the less expensive Colombino, with its sweet, strong, and non-bitter olive flavor is a good choice for cooking, vinaigrettes, and dressing vegetables. You can buy it by the 500 ml bottle for $15.50, or a case of 6 for $84 from the Chef’s Warehouse, the same supplier Chefs Boulud, Humm, and Anthony use. And if you don’t feel like waiting for mail order you can always make arrangements for pick-up at the Chef’s Warehouse cash-and-carry, in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx. While it’s never open for supermarket-style shopping, the place is, at least in some sense, the largest specialty food store in the tristate area.

Terre Bormane at The Chef’s Warehouse
1300 Viele Avenue
Bronx, NY 10474
(718) 842-8700