Last May, Esperanza, my mother-in-law, bought two olive oils for us to try. One was a picual from Jaén, and the other was an hojiblanca.
As I mention in my post Rafael's Tips on Choosing Spanish Olive Oils, Ana's uncle Rafael, who worked for decades with the Spanish Department of Agriculture, really knows his olive oils. Picual de Jaén is one of his favorites, along with some blends from his native Córdoba.
Picual olive oil from Jaén is spicy, herby, peppery, and complex--what I think most people expect when they try a fine olive oil, but even better. This oil makes a fabulous salad dressing all on its own, as I describe in my recipe for a Simple Spanish Salad. My father-in-law Andrés also thought it was a perfect oil to use with pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style octopus).
Hojibanca olive oil is quite different. It's smooth, buttery, and subtle. Hojiblanca is perfect for almond soup (ajo blanco) and it makes a terrific Spanish-style mayonnaise. (Try an hojiblanca mayonnaise with grilled shrimp or steamed lobster or even a homey Spanish "Russian" Salad, ensaladilla rusa). Salads of delicate greens, such as lamb's lettuce or mâche (canónigos) can be simply dressed with a drizzle of hojiblanca olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt--nothing else. It's almost like a cream-based salad dressing.
Both of the olives oils we tried were the Coosur brand--a large company based in Sevilla that sells all sorts of Spanish olive oils. Coosur is available in the U.S., but I never see it in our area. The on-line Spanish food store La Tienda does sell a quality brand of both of these types of oil. Click here to see their aceite picual de Jaén and click here to see their hojiblanca. See La Tienda's olive oil page for many other olive oils from Spain.