Tuesday, 5. March 2013
One of the joys of traveling is the food connection. While in Croatia later this month for IWINETC, we are looking forward to learning about the cuisine as well as the Croatian wine varieties and olive oils.
A few days ago Terry noted that we are almost out of olive oil in the kitchen. Recalling that I had read that Croatia has olive groves, I figured we would wait to buy olive oil while in Croatia. According to some online sources, Croatia has only 0.2 percent of the world’s global olive oil market.
Tourists will discover large areas of Croatia along the Adriatic Sea with many olive groves. According to the International Olive Council, the majority of the olive oil groves are less than one hectare. In 2009 only 10 producers had more than 50 hectares. Croatia has 30,000 hectares (74,131 acres) of olive groves. More acreage is added each year. Today Croatia is home to many olive varieties. However, olive varieties are dominated by the Lastovka, Drobnica, Buža, and Oblica varieties.
According to “Croatian Olive Oil” booklet published in 2012, “Findings of olive pits in Vrnjica, near Split, prove that the olive was cultivated for five centuries prior to the Greek settlement in the area.” Ancient olive oil presses have been discovered on Brijuni island where it is also reported that a 1600-year-old olive tree is growing.
Like numerous areas of the world that have wine trails, the Istria region of Croatia has “olive oil roads.” Olive oil producers have setup tasting rooms. Look for opportunities to discover Croatian olive oil tasting sites.
While visiting Croatia be on the look out for Croatian olive oils. Reportedly, Zagreb the capital of Croatia has an Olive Oil Gallery. I am hoping to make a quick trip to investigate and hope they offer olive oil tastings.
Saturday, 4. February 2012
What better way to say I love you than cooking dinner for the ones you love! The Valentine’s Salad recipe below is from B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil Company, a wonderful winery to visit in Sonoma County, California. Visitors to B.R. Cohn can experience wine tastings and olive oil tastings. Enjoy this creative salad and plan a trip to B.R. Cohn.
“My Heart Beets For You” Valentine’s Salad
2 beets 1½ – 2” in diameter, trimmed and scrubbed
3 c mixed spring greens
3 T chopped and toasted walnuts
2 T B.R. Cohn Raspberry Champagne Vinegar
1 T B.R. Cohn Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 t honey
½ T finely minced shallots
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch sea salt
Goat cheese, if desired
1. Rub beets with 1 T B.R. Cohn Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with salt.
2. Place in double layer aluminum foil and wrap to make tight package.
3. Roast beets in 375-degree oven until tender, about 1 hour. When cool, rub skin off beets and slice into 1/4” rounds. By hand or using a small cookie cutter, cut beets into heart shapes.
4. Combine B.R. Cohn Raspberry Champagne Vinegar, olive oil, honey, shallots and ground pepper in small jar. Shake well.
5. Just before serving, toss mixed greens with 2 tbsp of the walnuts and half of the dressing.
6. Arrange on 2 plates and top with heart shaped beets. Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with walnuts.
Note: Chioggia or golden beets can be used as well. Roast each variety separately. Try adding goat cheese in the shape of hearts or crumbled.
Suggested Wine Pairing: B.R. Cohn Sonoma County Chardonnay
Recipe provided by B.R. Cohn Winery & Olive Oil Company
Monday, 9. January 2012
On Saturday, I took my usual jaunt to the public library, from which I had borrowed Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil which details the misconception about extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Even though I had already read it and written a review of it, I would have liked to have written down a few of the reference websites mentioned. However, seven library patrons have requested the book, obviously people are interested in olive oil. Add scandal and its almost a thriller.
The good news is that the author, Tom Mueller, has started a website where you can find the article he wrote in 2007 as well as links to olive sites etc.
Only released in early December, Extra Virginity, seems to have hit a sore spot for the manufacturers and distributors of olive oil that is labeled as extra virgin olive oil but in reality is not according to the definition.
In California at UC Davis, a reputable university, a test was done to check the quality of extra virgin olive oils that were purchased at a variety of stores. The results were dismal showing that a large majority of extra virgin olive oils were not “extra virgin.” One critic of the study indicated the testing methods were not accurate. Who should one believe: someone related to the olive oil industry or or university research?
Pure and simple selling any item the information on the label needs to be accurate. Shouldn’t there be truth in labeling for olive oil and all products?
For more information about Extra Virginity, see my review.
Wednesday, 4. January 2012
Wine is a topic that isn’t thought of in a vacuum. When discussing wine, one often ventures into a discussion of food. It made sense that as we journeyed into the world of wine, food accompanied our travels. After five years of visiting and writing about 750 wineries, WineTrailTraveler introduces a companion website about food: Food.WineTrailTraveler.com. The initial food site will focus on cheese, vinegar and olive and grape seed oils.
Wine and cheese simply go together. Wine vinegars are made from wine. The process of producing olive oil and grape seed oils have similarities to making wine. These topic areas were selected for the new companion website that will feature articles about these topics as well as visits to places that make them. Articles are featured in the Epicurean section of the site. The Recipe section of the site features recipes that use cheese, wine vinegar or olive oil or grape seed oil as one of the ingredients. New recipes are added monthly. The Calendar section offers glimpses of events that feature cheese, vinegar or oils. The Forum section is a community of visitors to chat about cheese, oils and vinegar.
This new companion website has been six months in the making. During the time visits were made to two Maryland creameries, three California olive oil producers and a Washington grape seed oil producer. Articles will continue to be added. In January, WineTrailTraveler staff will visit an olive oil museum in Umbria, Italy.
Life-long learning is a practice by former educators Terry & Kathy as we continue to learn about cheese, vinegar and oils. In 2008 we decided that if we were going to write about wine, we should make it. The companion website, Winemaking.WineTrailTraveler.com debuted in 2009. Since then we have made eight wines including six at home, one at a Maryland teaching winery and one at a Virginia winery. It made sense that if we were going to write about cheese, we should make cheese. The same applies to vinegar. The new website will chronicle successes and failures faced with cheese making and vinegar making. Take time to explore the newest site.
Monday, 12. September 2011
Many wine lovers talk about wine and enjoy discussing where the grapes are from, the variety of grape, the nuances and the aftertaste of the wine. The same can be said of olive oils. There are numerous types of olive trees. Some olive oil making facilities concentrate on producing single varietal olive oils, just like winemakers may decide to produce vineyard specific wines. Olive oil nuances are also affected by the climate, weather, soil, and geography just like wine. Even the manufacturing process can affect the quality of the olive oil.
Anyone planning to travel to Italy will want to take the opportunity to visit an olive oil producing facility. Fèlsina in Castelnuovo Berardenga SI, Italy offers beautiful views of olive groves and produces several single varietal olive oils. Olive oil tastings are available. Call ahead to make an appointment.
Olive oils are produced in many countries including the United States, predominantly in California. The next time you travel for vacation or business take some time to find out about the olive oil production in the region. More information about olive oil production and tasting is available.
If you have the opportunity to do an olive tasting at a festival or store, take a few minutes to do so.