28 Feb

Best olive oils are often hard to get, but Springs foodies soon have a chance

By Teresa J. Farney,

Lauren Stuart is to Franco Lombardi’s olive oil what Johnny Appleseed was to apples.

Last summer, the Colorado Springs cooking teacher took a culinary trip to Tuscany, met olive oil producer Lombardi, tasted the oil pressed from the olives grown on his land and began passionately spreading the word about his product.

A few months ago, she taught a special Tuscany cooking class, where she waxed poetic about Lombardi’s olive oil.

As olive-oil aficionados know, the best comes from the warm, sunny areas of Europe — Tuscany, Spain and Greece. They also know that these superior oils are hard to come by in the United States. The reason? Some of the best extra-virgin olive oils — those pressed and processed without heat or solvents — are produced in such small quantities that they can supply just the locals.

Lombardi’s olives produce only a few thousand bottles of olive oil a year.

“But it’s such a good product, with outstanding quality,” Stuart said at her Tuscany cooking class.

“I use this as a finishing oil. It’s got such a full, fruity flavor, you only need a drop or two on a salad or piece of bread.”

I had to agree. The oil was delicious, but on the expensive side at $30 a bottle. But, I thought it was just that good and jumped at the chance to get some when Stuart took orders for a shipment. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my stash and am eager to get more.

Not only will it be possible to order more oil soon, but “the olive oil man” himself will take orders when Lombardi travels here in April to talk about olive oil production, the benefits of the oil, what to look for when buying it, and how to cook with it. His appearance is courtesy of the devoted Stuart.

“I was so impressed with him, I wanted him to come to Colorado Springs, and he said he would.”

Lombardi makes regular trips to the U.S. to talk about olive oil, so once Stuart nailed down the dates of his planned travels to New York, she started organizing events locally.
Here’s a rundown:

  • April 22: Stuart hosts a Tuscan Dinner Buffet at her cooking school, Cooking Naturally, from 5 to 8 p.m. $65 per person. Call 527-9356 for reservations and location.
  • April 23: Cocktail party with hors d’oeuvres and wine at Walter’s Bistro, 146 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 4 to 6 p.m. Cost is $45 per person. Call 630-0201 to make reservations.
  • April 24: Appetizers and wine at Mollica’s Italian Market and Deli, 985-A Garden of the Gods Road, from 6 to 8 p.m. $45 per person. Call 598-1088 to make reservations.
  • April 25: Four-course Tuscan-themed dinner with wine at Plate World Cuisine, 9420-D Briar Village Point, starting at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $75 per person. Call 475-8000 for reservations.

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