Archive for the 'food' Category

On the pleasures of chili oil

Friday 27 October (2006)

some chili oil
this isn’t the actual oil I have, but it looks the same

I have always enjoyed a good pizza, but I’ve only ever really eaten supermarket or brand-name frozen ones. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but when you find yourself in an Italian restaurant (with a bona fide Italian maître d’ and waitress) and you order one, you know it’s going to be something special. It certainly was, but what intrigued me was the large bottle the waiter left behind with the pizza: it looked like olive oil, but it was a deep red colour and had chili peppers suspended in it. My friend Ryan had been going on at me about pouring olive oil over his pizzas, making them ‘superb’ – perhaps this is what he was talking about? So, ever one for indulgence, I poured some of this oil over the pizza. And my God…

It became apparant when I spoke to Ryan that he poured the olive oil over his pizza before he cooked it, not after, so I was confused. But that was one fucking great pizza I ate in that restaurant – so I went to Tesco and bought some of their ‘chili infused olive oil’ for £2.50. That evening I experimented – I poured some oil over a pizza before cooking it, and then also after. And fuck me, if it wasn’t amazingly tasty.

I mean, olive oil on its own isn’t a substance I really use in my cooking – if I ever fry something I always use vegetable or sunflower oil, and I don’t really go for it with salads or pasta. But this chili oil is different. I have no doubt that it’s supposed to be used as any other oil is in cooking, but with a touch of heat for connoisseurs of spicy food (like me.) The thing is, I’ve been using it differently – in a word; cheese.

Pizzas are covered in cheese and this stuff browns it nicely, and also spices it up. So when I made a pasta bake just now, which I literally covered with grated highland cheddar (I’ve gotten over my parmesan fetish, thank God,) I poured some of my magical oil over it. Good Holy God! It makes any meal with cheese (and possibly tomatoes, in one form or another) become transcendent.

Buy some.

And on a side note: no Sunday Review this week; I’ll be away on holiday 😀