Sunday, November 1, 2009

Product review: Bariani olive soap

The best olive oil in California — well, one of the best we've had — is made by the Bariani family, whose orchard, press, and bottling facilities are near Sacramento. Bariani oil is available at the Berkeley Farmers' Markets (where Sra. Bariani, who speaks Italian, enough Spanish to run the farm, and minimal English, staffs the stand), at Berkeley Bowl and Cheeseboard, and the website lists stores in some thirty states with the oil. (We don't usually buy Bariani oil, because at the rate we use oil, we need a cheep extra-virgin cooking oil, not an expensive table oil. Sometimes we get a small bottle for special dishes.)

In the last month or so, we noticed a new product at the Bariani stand: soap. In addition to their oils (a green early-season pressing and their standard extra-virgin, as well as a truffle-infused oil) and vinegar (Balsamic, available only in 500 ml bottles, and the only California vinegar we've found), Bariani now offers liquid body soap, a bar soap, and a moisturizing cream. We bought a small bottle of the liquid soap to try.

The soap is clear, flows easily, and unscented (ingredient list: water, extra virgin olive oil, KOH), a huge plus over such industry standards as Dr Bronners and Toms of Maine, and it's much less harsh than its mass-produced relatives. The soap is marketed as "body soap and shampoo", but I'm not thrilled with it as a shampoo (it's not awful, but I think I'll stick with Head&Shoulders). On the other hand, I love it as a soap. B says it makes him feel like he's being "basted" in it, so we're not buying Bariani only. But I highly recommend the stuff, and I'm excited to try their lotion and bar soap too.

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