Recipes and News
A New Book from Judy Ridgway
A number of our extra virgin olive oil producers are featured in the new e-book Remarkable Recipes by international olive oil expert Judy Ridgway. They include Castelas from France, Colonna, Badia a Coltibuono and Ravida from Italy, Morgenster from South Africa, and Marques de Valdueza, Nunez de Prado, and L’Estornell fromSpain.
All 76 recipes in the book come from olive growers and olive oil producers around the world because, as Judy says, who knows more about cooking with extra virgin olive oil? “Some of the most interesting and delicious dishes I have ever eaten have been served at the tables of the olive growers and oil producers”, she comments.
Some of the recipes are traditional, others are family favourites and yet others are modern creations from gifted cooks; but one thing Judy is sure of is that they are all quite different to the recipes found in general cookbooks of the various regions.
It should retail at £4.99 or the equivalent in the relevant currency.
2013 Harvest Report
We have now received the last of the new season oils from the 2013 harvest. It has been fascinating to taste each one, and note any differences that the conditions of the year have bought to the flavour of the oils. In general, happily this appears to have been a very good one in terms of quality.
The harvest started during our summertime for Morgenster in South Africa, who had the biggest crop to date. Also exceptional in quality, it lead to their oil being awarded 98% in this year's Flos Olei Guide, about which they are understandably delighted.
Many of our producers in Europe have had a bumper harvest too; Badia and Frescobaldi in Tuscany have enjoyed exceptional production, and the quality of olives that the wet spring and the warm - but not too hot - summer produced can be tasted in their wonderful oils. We thought that Badia's Albareto oil was particularly good, with surprisingly little bitterness but a rich, aromatic flavour.
Colonna also had an abundant crop, and luckily the year appears to have been marked by and absence of olive fly and disease for all of our producers. Over in Spain, Vea saw a significant increase in production compared to last year, thanks to heavy rains during the spring, as well as a better quality, fleshier olive than they had in 2012.
Valdueza (in the south-west of Spain), however, did experience a lower yield of oil from their crop, though it was still good. The area suffered a long winter and a consequently delayed flowering, followed by a very hot summer. Luckily they are prepared for this with good irrigation systems, and so avoided most of the problems a drought of this kind can bring.
France has had a successful year in some parts, and not so much in others. Lulu de Waldner, in the Vaucluse, saw a 25% increase in their crop, while Castelas was down on their production by nearly 40%. This has had no effect on the quality of the oil, however, which is tasting even better than last year, if possible.
Click on the links to read each producer's harvest report in full.
I have in front of me a Press Release, dated 28th April 1990 for “The first public tasting of a wonderful new oil –Colonna Granverde” at The Conran Shop, London. The previous year I had visited Marina Colonna and her parents at their farm in the Molise, and Marina had poured a little oil out of a can over some grilled fish. It tasted wonderful, and Prince Francesco explained that it was a family recipe; a few lemons were chucked into the press along with the last of the olives at the end of the pressing season, which had a double propose: to produce this zesty citrus oil, and to start the cleaning process of the machinery. It was easy to persuade the Colonnas to produce a bit more the following year, and that was the start of it: the first Lemon Oil to be sold in the UK. Simon Hopkinson created a couple of recipes using it, one subsequently published in Roast Chicken and Other Stories.
In November Sika and I went to visit Marina and the production of Granverde it much as it has always been, just on a larger scale. The lemons are not picked from the tree outside the front door anymore, but are bought in from Sicily. They are, however, still peeled by hand, by the harvesters on a rainy day when they cannot get out in to the fields. The lemon rind still goes through the machinery as it used to. We pour it over asparagus, we mix it with good balsamic vinegar, and, of course, we pour it over grilled fish, like Marina did 23 years ago!
Here you can find a link to a short film Marina Colonna's son, Eugenio, has made about the farm. Very informative, and beautifully shot.