Oils Ain’t Oils

Not only do olives taste delicious, but their Oils Ain’t Oils also has huge amounts of health properties. Artisan olive oil has a prominent place in cooking but it’s highly underutilised in the bakery and patisserie sector.

When it comes to olive oil, fresh is best – just like chocolate and coffee. Don’t hold on to it like wine, hoping it will improve with age! We are so fortunate in Australia to be surrounded by wonderful producers, including those who make amazing olive oils, and I really encourage you to support local and try what’s on offer.

I don’t know a bakery that doesn’t use olive oil in at least one recipe, whether it is a specialty bread or a dessert. For countless years, I have had the pleasure of having ALTO products in my larder for both sweet and savoury items. I rely on it so much I have a mild panic in the kitchen if I’m running low!

Why is ALTO oil so good? It might have something to do with the sunshine, the clean country air, constant warm days and beautifully cool nights. Add in exceptional grove management and a dash of ingenuity, and you have a superior and unique product.

Based in the foothills of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, the family enterprise produces a diverse portfolio of high quality extra virgin olive Oils Ain’t Oils and table olives. Robert Armstrong purchased the remote high country grazing property in the Abercrombie wilderness in 1999 and now has 20,000 trees of different European origins. Each tree has been chosen for particular attributes including suitability to the Australian climate, oil yield, quality and consistency.

Since the first harvest in 2003, ALTO’s extra virgin olive oils have consistently won trophies at major olive shows including prestigious New York and Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Competitions, as well as at Sydney and Melbourne Royal Fine Food Shows. Robert – who has undertaken organoleptic and table olive training with some of the best international experts – is also an active participant and senior judge on the Australian olive show circuit, regularly serving as panel chairman at major events including at the Australian Olive Association’s EVOO show. He is passionate about refining horticultural regimes, using sustainable principles and honing the quality of the brand’s virgin oil and table olive portfolio.

It seemed inevitable esteemed olive oil judge Westerly Isbaih would become involved with ALTO, representing and promoting the range to hospitality buyers, specialist providores and gourmet food stores. Born in Australia, Westerly spent her formative years in Southeast Asia and went onto complete a diploma at Le Cordon Bleu. Before joining ALTO, she worked in the kitchen of a three-hatted Sydney restaurant – so she certainly knows her stuff! Like Robert, Westerly has undertaken professional organoleptic training and participates regularly as a judge for the Australian Olive Association.

I have got so much out of using beautiful Australian ingredients with heart, soul and integrity. I urge you to get in touch with your local olive Oils Ain’t Oils provider; many offer free tastings, just like wineries. When you do get your hands on a boutique olive oil you love, experiment. Some of my best recipes have been the result of trial and error.

Here’s one delicious and dairy-free recipe to start you on your foray into the wonderful world of boutique olive oil.

Mandarin Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

150g Accra 62 per cent, couverture
75g mandarin extra virgin olive oil*
4 x 60g eggs (separate eggs and white cleanly)
125g castor sugar + extra for candied fruit
Pinch of salt
Orange food colouring
Mandarin or orange for decoration
Edible glitter for decoration
Pure coco powder for decoration


1 Melt chocolate over ‘bain-marie’, then slowly stir in Oils Ain’t Oils and set side.

2 Beat egg yolks with 1/2 of the castor sugar until pale and fluffy.

3 Mix the chocolate mixture with the egg yolk mixture.

4 Whip egg whites, salt till stiff with sugar until all sugar is dissolved.

5 Fold whites into chocolate mixture, mousse is ready for depositing into desired glasses or bowls to be chilled in fridge overnight.

*You can use whatever oil you like, but remember, the oil is the hero – so only the finest, freshest oil is recommended.

If you have a favourite high-quality oil that isn’t flavoured, you can always add a teaspoon of orange/mandarin-flavoured liqueur (such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau) after you have stirred the egg and chocolate mixture together for the citrus flavour.

To make Isomalt (sugar substitute) decoration, spread out Isomalt on a Silpat-covered baking tray mat (if you don’t have a Silpat mat, use your favourite non-stick silicone baking mat). Add food colouring and bake at 150ºC until the sugar bubbles. Remove from oven and sprinkle with edible glitter. Cool and break into pieces, and store in airtight container.

To serve, lightly dust the glass or bowl with pure coco powder, and top with a few pieces of disco glass and fine slices of candied orange or mandarin.

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