When Angelo first began ruminating on the dream that would become The Naughty Greek, one thing was very clear — the pressing need for ingredients coming straight from Greece. Minnesota has a bounty of wonderful, locally-grown produce, and ethically-raised meat - but feta, honey, and olive oil from Greece were non-negotiable.
That decision was not only based on the pride of a nation revered for its olive oil — it’s also about terroir, that wonderful, sometimes nebulous relationship between land and food. No man is an island, and no food grows in a vacuum: relationships are formed between soil and cultivar, minerals and water, bacteria and climate. We talk about terroir when we talk about wines, but terroir is a conversation we can have about everything from meat, to honey, to cheese, to olive oil.
Let’s begin with Greece. Specifically, Kalamata, a southern region of Messinia in the Peloponnese: the peninsula that juts southward from mainland Greece into the Mediterranean Sea. Marked by rolling hills, lagoons, and mountains, Euripides called Messinia, “the land of the good fruit,” where today figs, sultana raisins, Kalamata olives, and olive oil are produced from fertile soil, enriched from the Pineios River Basin and reserves, and sent across the world through Kalamata’s busy port.
The winters in Kalamata are mild and wet, and the summers hot and dry. The extra-virgin olive oil we use at The Naughty Greek is pressed from Koroneiki olives, which are well-suited to the climate, as the trees are drought-resistant, respond well to high-density growing, and the small olives grow in abundance, peeking out beneath leaves dappled light green and purple. Koroneiki olives, often known as “the queen of olives,” for the high quality of oil they produce, are grown throughout the world, but without rich humus and prolonged sunlight, the trees often struggle.
Koroneiki olives are recognized throughout the world of olive oil producers for their robust flavor and the high quantity of oil within each olive. Distinguished by the velvety texture of the oil, and the bright vegetal flavor with grassy notes and a peppery final kick, Koroneiki are often blended with other olives to elevate the final product. Its flavor and texture elevate everything the olive oil touches, really - from our Greek salad to our pita, and it’s why we keep a bottle handy at every table.