‘Tis the season of liquid gold here in Umbria
Italy and olive oil go together like two peas in a pod and some say that Umbria has some of the best olive oil (at least the people in Umbria say that!). You know when the olive harvest is approaching as when you drive down the local roads you see little clusters of people talking around olive trees. These consultations go on many times as people are trying to predict the best time to harvest to get the best oil possible. In truth, it depends who you talk to and what olive varieties you have as people harvest anytime between mid-October and mid-December.
If you are lucky enough to spend hours harvesting olives by hand (my preferred method) you really see the details of these trees up close. The shape of the leaves and the many colors of the olives, even on a single tree, make this task a joy.
A trip to the frantoio (olive mill) is a really fun experience, a favorite being the Inches mill in Morre. The staff are so friendly and they let you get close and watch each phase in the process. The process starts with having your olives weighed which after hours, if not days, of harvesting is quite exciting. After this the olives are de-leafed, de-stemmed, and washed ready for the mashing and mixing part of the process. The final stages are the pressing and lastly the centrifuge which removes out the remaining water. It is at this point that you stand over the spout where your oil will first appear – a seriously exciting moment, and once the luminous green liquid pours you really feel it was worth all the effort.
It is this liquid gold that is celebrated everywhere in Umbria this time of year. At the Borgo di Olive we were lucky enough to score some of Guiseppe’s oil and decided that the proper way to celebrate would be to have a New Oil Dinner. Every course showed off the different flavors that you will find in olive oil. The highlights of the dinner were the gnocchetti (little gnocchi of course) with saffron, sausage, sprinkled with some ground coffee and generously drizzled olive oil, and the filo pastry cannelloni filled with apple sitting on a bed of rosemary and olive oil cream with chocolate shavings. The combinations of these dishes brought out totally different flavors in the olive oil I had not experienced before.
If you are as mesmerized by olives and olive oil as I am check our website in the coming months as we will be creating a great olive celebration package which will take place in October next year!
A presto, Marisa