Jaques Médecin, late mayor of Nice, was commented on by Rowley Leigh, chef and food writer for the Financial Times: "Things changed in 1983 with the publication of the English translation of Cuisine Niçoise: Recipes from a Mediterranean Kitchen by one Jacques Médecin. In spite of the fact that Médecin was a famously racist mayor of Nice who was extradited from South America in order to face trial on corruption charges, the book, unlike its author, was a delight... However crooked Médecin had been, none of us doubted his cooking.” What’s the connection between Medecin and Alziari? Primarily, because a tin of Alziari oil is illustrated on the front cover of the afore-mentioned book, and that it was that that drew our attention to this staple of Nicoise ingredients.
We visited the shop and met old M. Alziari with our then one-year-old daughter. We told him we wanted to wholesale his oil in the United Kingdom, and asked the price. He lifted a tin off the shelf and showed us the price label stuck on the bottom. We explained that we needed a wholesale price, that we would be importing by the pallet. He would have none of it; a price was a price. Negotiations failed. It was some years later when our new half-French secretary started talking to him again, and her charm persuaded him to sell us some oil.
The only problem is that the wonderful packaging has created a product that sells more than can be produced locally. For the past 100 years, Alziari have selected the best varieties of olives from selected farms across Europe. Like many wine producers, they carefully blend different varieties of olives together to create their unique blend – the exact varieties are a closely-guarded secret.
Harvest takes place between late Autumn and the beginning of winter. Their partners are carefully chosen to ensure that they do not use intensive harvesting methods like vacuum harvesting or night harvesting. Instead they use electrical and vibrating rakes, which is better both for the tree, and the fauna in and around the trees. However, they still blend to a quality that reflects the style as it used to be – gentle and sweet, no bitterness and only a touch of pepper.