When Bruce, Emma and I were in Paris we stumbled upon a closet-size shop in Saint Germaine that sold nothing but nut oils (actually, they sell vinegars, too, but that’s not their bread and butter…so to speak). Their work hours were comme ci, comme ca for over-scheduled tourists—but, there was just something about the little spot that drew us back during “business” hours—and have we been happy ever since! These are the most extraordinary artisnal nut oils, I promise. I buy them at Surfa’s here in Los Angeles, but they’re available online at a number of sources including Gourmet County. Don’t be put off by the price—they’re expensive, but these oils are positively sublime, and a little goes a long way.
Tip: Check the expiration date of any J. Leblanc oil you don’t buy at the shop in Paris. They’re made to order (the company has no storage facilities), and I have bought some at different online sources that have not been as fresh as they should be. I read somewhere that if you refigerate after opening, they should last up to a year.
My favorites are the Pistachio and Hazelnut Oils (they also have Almond, Argan, Grilled Peanut, Pecan, Pumkinseed, Grilled Pine Nut, Grilled Sesame, and Walnut Oils as a selection of vinegars). I use them for “seasoning,” not for sauteeing or cooking. Here are two of our favorite recipes (please let me/all of us know what you come up with…):
Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachio Oil and Pistachios
I don’t use any vinegar at all–I just want the purity of the pistach….
Butter lettuce, as many heads as you need
Good quality goat cheese, 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices, 2 per person
Freshly ground black pepper
J. Leblanc Pistachio Oil
Shelled pistachio meats
Good crusty baguette, 2 slices per person
Wash, dry and tear lettuce. Set aside. Pepper goat cheese slices and place in a toaster oven until they’re soft and warm all the way through. Arrange on top of lettuce, sprinkle with J. Leblanc Pistachio Oil and pistachios. Serve with bread.
Ravioli with Hazelnut Oil
I make this as a first course, usually with some kind of game ravioli—quail, duck, venison…but you could use chicken. I figure 4 to 6 per person.
J. Leblanc Hazelnut Oil
Grated fresh Parmesan
Italian parsely, minced
Cook the ravioli, plate, sprinkle generously with J. Leblanc Hazelnut Oil, Parmesan and parsely. (Could this be easier? It couldn’t be more elegant!)
A Short History of J. Leblanc
The company, now run by Jean-Charles Leblanc, grandson of the founder, is based in the south of Burgundy, France. Family-run since 1878, Leblanc uses only the finest quality whole nuts available, many grown by the same farms it’s been working with since the earliest days. Each batch of oil requires 54 pounds of nuts that are ground by the huilerie’s original granite mill, then roasted until, finally, it’s transfered to a mechanical press where it’s divided, separated, and expressed at 22,000 pounds of pressure. After resting for up to 14 days so sediment can settle, it’s bottled. Three hundred liters a day–pure, unadulterated, unfiltered, and unrefined.