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March 29, 2010

'Local' olive oil

olivesThose of you eagerly awaiting the opening of area farmers' markets are probably licking your chops for local lettuces, strawberries and the like. But don't forget the olive oil.

Olive oil is a surprising find at producer-only farmers' markets around here. But it's legit. Seller Dimitrios Giannakos lives in Northeast Baltimore. Only his olive orchard resides overseas.

Giannakos said he had to talk his way into Baltimore-area markets.

"It was a problem coming in," he said. "It is my product. It's just a little bit outside the 150-mile radius," he added with a laugh, referring to the normal limits of the local-foods designation.

His farm is in southern Greece, 20 kilometers south of Sparta.

Giannakos came to Baltimore from Greece when he was 12 years old. He was in the restaurant business for many years, starting as a waiter and bartender in Little Italy restaurants. He owned the Athenian restaurant on Eastern Avenue and had Taverna Athena back when Harborplace opened.

Then five years ago he took over the Greek olive farm that had been in the family since his great-grandfather's day. The 65-acre spread produces about 15 tons to 18 tons of olive oil in a good year. (Every other year production is low, which is just the way it is with olives.)

He produces the oil there, but sells it over here. He has mostly focused on selling to area restaurants. Woodberry Kitchen, The Prime Rib, Blue Hill Tavern, The Black Olive, Chameleon Cafe, Ikaros, Zorba's and several restaurants in D.C. and Virginia buy his oil, he said.

But last year, he decided to sell at area farmers' markets. He does nine between Baltimore and Virginia, including the seasonal markets held under the JFX, at the Baltimore Museum of Industry and in Bel Air. He also sells at the year-round Waverly market.

Market shoppers seem to appreciate the oil, which costs $18 for a 1-liter bottle. It's extra-virgin, cold-pressed and -- most importantly, he said -- unfiltered oil.

Filtering, he said, "shines the color up but it takes everything out that belongs in there and that's what gives it the better aroma, the better flavor."


San Francisco Chronicle photo

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 12:02 PM | | Comments (52)


Speaking of local food, in NYTimes:

Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage

Call me cynical (I get that a lot...), but Mr Giannakos's presence at Maryland Farmers' Markets seems like a slippery (pun notwithstanding) slope.

See..I live in Fells Point, but I've got this feedlot in Kansas....

sean, the NYTimes article was covered on this blog yesterday.

See, that's what I get for not paying attention...

That's what you get for ignoring us sean! Remember, we won't be ignored.

Cool captcha (I think)
"appropriations pyrex"

Are there any olive trees in MD besides the potted ones at Home Depot?

I, a Baltimore resident, picked olives on Dimitrios Giannakos' farm in Greece in January - a memorable experience. The olive oil is great! And as far as I know there's no one in this area producing olive oil.

I, a Baltimore resident, picked olives on Dimitrios Giannakos' farm in Greece in January - a memorable experience. The olive oil is great! And as far as I know there's no one in this area producing olive oil.

I, a Baltimore resident, picked olives on Dimitrios Giannakos' farm in Greece in January - a memorable experience. The olive oil is great! And as far as I know there's no one in this area producing olive oil.

I, a Baltimore resident, picked olives on Dimitrios Giannakos' farm in Greece in January - a memorable experience. The olive oil is great! And as far as I know there's no one in this area producing olive oil.

Sorry. Kept saying it wasn't accepting my post - but it took it every time!

Way to go Dimitri. Buying virgin olive oil pressed from hand-picked olives grown at Dimitri’s farm in Greece at our local farmers markets in the Baltimore/DC area only proves how small our world has become. Dimitri’s olive oil is good for your health, tastes great and might just get a few people to switch to a healthier Mediterranean diet and stop eating saturated fats, transfats and junk food - and it even took Polly all the way to the fields of Sparta for some R&R Agro-tourism. Loosen up BankStreet - the Farmer’s Market is about buying real food from real people and not about selling only what we grow and raise locally.
All I can say is - What a Country!

Dimitri has the best olive oil ever! After returning from his farm in Southern Greece in Jan. I have learned to appreciate what it takes to produce "awesome" olive oil. Keep bringing that liquid gold to the good people of Baltimore.

You have to appreciate the historic and organic purity of the Spartan olive grove that produces this one-of-a-kind elixir of the gods. If you understand Thermoplylae and Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, then you can understand this product and the family that produces it. If you don't know what I am talking about, then go to Giant Foods and buy the Giant brand olive oil, because you don't deserve to use this limited quantity VIP product.

I was already convinced by Polly's affidavit, submitted in quadruplicate, that Dimitri's oil is superior to anything we are producing here in the Towson olive groves. Now it seems it will rescue the world from tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.

We'll see you at the farmers' market. Come back with your shield, or on it.

Laura Lee took the words right out of my mouth!

It may be pure, but it's not to my liking. I'm comparing it to other fine olive oils, not a straw man like Giant brand. Duh. I tasted it with a little bread and some Chianti. I didn't like the flavor. Just didn't like it and I love olive oil. I wouldn't normally say anything here, but you guys are laying it on pretty thick.

Man..I do not like being put in this role, but .... the purpose of the Farmers market, at least those sanctioned by the State of Maryland, is to provide "...Maryland produce, in season." I'm sure Mr Giannakos's oil is wonderful, but it ain't "Maryland produce." I enjoy good oil (although I prefer Spanish oil to Greek, usually), but I don't look for trans-oceanic imports when I go to my FM.

My earlier posting alluded to the slippery slope. With Mr Giannakos as a precedent, what exactly distinguishes a Farmers' Market from Whole Foods (except having a Maryland mailing address)?

By the way, in answer to Polly's question:

Pompeian, Inc.
4201 Pulaski Highway
Baltimore, MD 21224

I had a farm in Africa.

My brother runs it now and he produces the most wonderful coffee beans. But I'm still part owner and since I live here in Baltimore, may I sell those coffee beans at the farmers' market?

Olive oil is like wine, with great variety among the quality versions. There's no reason to assume that this stuff is awesome. Even if it's Smurfalicious, it shouldn't be at the farmer's market.

You are either selling local products or you are not. This sets a bad precedent and how soon before local sellers are squeezed out? If it's a great product then let it compete fairly against other brands in gourmet shops, Whole Foods, etc. Taxpayer-supported farmers markets shouldn't be giving a leg up to non-local products.

Then again, Greece's economy is going down the toilet, so ...

Oh dear. All this reading has given me severe olive oil cravings for some Dimitri's. My boyfriend and I LOVE IT. Keep it coming.

I have read ( ) that the key to good olive oil is hydroxytyrosols. "Different varieties of olives will have different levels of hydroxytyrosol. The higher the levels, the more desirable (and costly) the olive oil." Does anyone here know how much hydroxytyrosol is in Greek olive oil?

Dimitri olive oil is the best that i have ever tasted...i am addicted

If you want to try good olive oil--go for Dimitri EVOO..

my eyes are bleeding from reading a Rachel Rayism!

I was having a rare period of politeness, but now that someone is obviously (and repeatedly) shilling for Dimitri's freakin olive oil, I will weigh in.

It sucks. It's not good. It's flat and one dimensional, without the herby floral notes that excellent olive has. It is distinctive, but not in a good way. It's tone and character reflect the arid deprived soil that it comes from. It is memorably not good. Look elsewhere for better olive oil.


Word on the street is that Dimitri makes a good olive oil. I've read it three times, so it must be true. Time to go off and buy a few drums.

Dimitri's? Nobody goes there anymore

hey owl meat gravy,,,,,,check your taste buds,,,,they are way out of wack,,
it's too bad you can't taste good evoo, 'DIMITRI"".
but as Dean of DC said,
you don't deserve it,

it's too bad you can't taste good evoo, 'DIMITRI"".

I think that came out wrong.

Anyway, all the shilling has made me completely uninterested in Dimitri's oil. Oops.

it's too bad you can't taste good evoo, 'DIMITRI"".

me talk pretty one day

GREAT olive oil from what I have tasted. I have introduced it to my family and friends, most of them love it, a few thought it had a ok taste to it, and some didnt like the taste of olive oil at all. However, for the anonymous "Owl Meat Gravy" it's clear that he/she is a board loser.  I won't be reading what you write back because I don't have the time for anonymous losers as yourself, but have fun trashing something that is good...bum. I just have to say for those of you who haven't taste it, go out and try it for yourself. Wish you all the best for the year.     

"Owl Meat Gravy" it's clear that he/she is a board loser.


Has anyone seen that two by four that I had? Where oh where is it?

hey Owl Meat Gravy,
when you find that two by four,
slap some olive oil on it and take a ride....
oh! don't forgett the gravy,,

Looks like I hit a nerve. Angry shill = vested interest. Nice to meet you again, Dimitri.

like wise sam,
would you like for me to send you a bottle of 'DIMITRI' olive oil,
it's really good for the skin as well...

Better hide, Owl. Word on the street is that the Spanikopita brothers have flown in from Sparta to rub you out.

it's really good for the skin as well...

Oh great, now I have Spartans covered in olive in my head. This is Sparta!

Who is Sam?

Mister so-called Owl Gravy you are a coward and a fool. Dimitris olive oil is the greatest olive oil ever.

Dear "A real person"--just wanted to let you know that "Mister so-called Owl Gravy" (you left out his middle name) is a long-time poster here and has many fans. He is not only real, he's hyper-real. You might consider laying off before you alienate his friends.

It's freaking olive oil, people.
OMG is NOT a "coward" or "a fool" for having an opinion. That's what we like to call "projecting" in therapy-like venues. E.g. attributing one's own failings and or feelings onto another person to make them safe for us to evaluate. Seem familiar "A real person"?
And let us not forget the Red Sonja like body guard that is mysteriously in the background at OMG's public events.

Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad Owl Meat Gravy. Not like going down the pond chasin' RoCKs and Sting RayRays. This Owl, swallow you whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', an' down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back your Shillers, put all your Olive Oil Bloggers on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three bottles of Olive Oil, Dimitri. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and Cage him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, you'll be using Pompeian Olive Oil the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's just too many captains in this Sandbox. Ten bottles of Greco-Baltimorean Olive Oil for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.

Bring me his head. On a golden platter. And my daddy's riches shall be yours.

DIMITRIS is sheer bliss!!!!!!!
It is pressed to perfection!!!!!!!!!!!


Prepare for glory!

For tonight we dine in hell!!!!

Dimitris olive oil is the greatest olive oil ever.

Shark, consider yourself jumped.

Great story - very romantic. That's the way olive oil is meant to be sold. You want to imagine the beautiful grecian countryside and picture the workers picking olives that will later be pressed and made into some magical unicorn blessed olive oil...

But does it meet the IOOC standards for Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Fraud in this country is rampant. Legislation is beginning to form thanks to the NAOOA. Be advised, you may THINK you're buying some fancy extra virgin, but in reality, it could be virgin or even pomace. Which is fine if it tastes good to YOU - but you shouldn't be paying top $$$ for a lesser grade of oil.

There are a lot of plants in Europe that pack olive oil for the American market based on the fact that they can't sell the oil as EV in Europe.

Do some research and check out the NAOOA website or the IOOC website. It's great info.

But pomace has more experience and sometimes that's what you want.

"I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy."

Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcis....

"I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy."

Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia....

Put me to the left of you, garnish me with green spices, olives and turmeric. Then buy my sweet electronic Chinese shoe mortgages.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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