2005_11_food_mannioil.jpgGothamist knows that the best restaurants in the city use the best ingredients they can find. But there are many chefs that go to extremes to find the best of the best. Chefs like Thomas Keller of Per Se fame develop relationships with local farmers, fisherman and wild mushroom cultivators in the maticulous pursuit of the best ingredients. Unfortuntely, most of these ingredients are not always available to the passionate home cook.

That's why Gothamist was elated to receive a gift of Manni olive oil from Tuscany. Manni oil is used at restaurants like Per Se, Jean-Georges, Daniel, The Four Seasons and Charlie Trotter's in Chicago. While it's pricey (close to $50 for two 100 ml bottles), it is indeed special. Beyond using a rare and wild olive variety from Tuscany, Manni goes to extensive efforts to combat oxidation and deterioration, which most olive oil suffers from even before opened (most of the olive oil we buy on the market). Manni oils are packed in special glass that protects 99.9% of UV rays, the leading cause of oxidation. They are the only olive oil producer to test its olive oil every four months to ensure freshness.

So does all of this lead to a better olive oil? Gothamist tasted the Manni oils and compared them with the quality oils we had at home. The difference is clear - Manni olis have a unique, fresh olive taste and an unbelievable aroma. Are they worth the price? That's up to you to decide, but Gothamist knows what we'll be putting on our holiday wish list.