About Me

Monday, November 27, 2017

Spanish Olive Oil School in London

London based Olive Oil lovers and enthusiasts are in for a treat!!

An Olive Oil venue, The Spanish Olive Oil School, has just opened in London. Mar Fernandez, originally from sunny Malaga has followed her passion: she has created a venue for learning, tasting and buying extra Virgin Olive Oil in the United Kingdom.

You couldn’t ask for a better olive oil ambassador.

Spain is the world’s largest olive oil producer, and much of it is high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Mar is a Certified Olive Oil expert who completed her studies at University of Jaen (Spain) in 2016 and became a Certified Expert in EVOO tasting.

We wanted to know more about Mar and the Spanish Olive Oil School so were delighted when she agreed to tell us about her new venture.

Can you tell us a little about your background, and what triggered your love for olive oil?

I have always loved cooking ever since I was a child and living in Malaga I was surrounded by olive trees. But it all started when I was diagnosed with Diabetes type 2 back in 2011. The doctor recommended three things; to start taking extra virgin olive oil, to follow the Mediterranean diet and to exercise regularly. I began studying more about olive oil, and got hooked on the product and all its possibilities.

I first studied in Madrid and later on in Cordoba & Jaen with Experts Tasters and doctors.  I also met lots of professionals with in- depth knowledge on the subject, and this triggered me to learn more. I finished my studies in December 2016 at the University of Jaen,and became a Certified Expert in Olive Oil Tasting.

You now live in the U.K, not a producer of olive oil, a country which has only recently discovered extra virgin oils. Do you see that as a challenge? What have you noticed as regards to eating habits and using olive oil in the U.K?

When I came to London 6 years ago, I noticed there weren’t many good extra virgin olive oils from Spain in shops, and there was lots of misconception about the product and the subject. As London is such a cosmopolitan city you can find EVOOs from Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, etc, and we’ve seen the people here are open to tasting new varieties and discover its healthy attributes. Little by little consumers are becoming more health conscious and want to use EVOO in their diets: they want also to appreciate the improved taste in food as well as   their well-being. Fast food is still a habit though vegetarians and vegans are more conscious of their options and the challenge is to educate the public to change towards healthier eating and lifestyle. We’ve got a big job to do!

How important is learning to taste olive oil for the general public?

We’re introducing our participants to flavours, aromas, and textures that they’ve never seen or experienced before, so it’s a big and fun task. It’s key to appreciate the ingredients, and each variety tastes different so it can be an amazing experience learning which one pairs with your porridge, salads, soups, chips, pulses, vegetables or meat & fish! You’ll never see anyone cooking fish with butter in the Mediterranean countries, and we even use EVOO very often for baking purposes.
We’re also teaching them how to find defects and avoid fraud by learning its attributes.

You have some exciting plans for the Spanish Olive Oil School; can you give us a few details of what we can look forward to?

We want to educate and share our knowledge.   We will tailor our program to adapt to each audience - from chefs to nutritionists, importers, foodies, schools/ colleges and the general public. We have an introductory course set up, an advanced one for those with some knowledge as well as tasting workshops.  This means we have something for everyone however knowledgeable or not they are!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Join us at the Olive Oil School and learn about this interesting, exciting and ever- expanding world culture of olive oil.  

Mar Fernandez(left ) and Elena Garcia her business partner (right)  from The Spanish Olive Oil  School                                          

Thank you Mar and Elena and best of luck for this exciting project.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

5 Good Reasons for Considering Organic Wine

Swirling, Sniffing and Sipping Organic Wine from Provence: why wine drinkers are switching



Looking for a gentle way to say goodbye to the summer, I finally took time to discover our very own Maison des Vins here in Provence.  Home to around  800 red, white and rosé wine from the Côtes de Provence, this is where wine producers showcase their produce and an excellent way for wine lovers like me to taste and appreciate fine blends of Côtes de Provence wine.

What I found refreshing during my session with the resident oenologist was the choice and taste of organic (bio wine in France). Up to now, I had not paid much attention to organic wines but I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh taste and wanted to find out more about organic wine here in France.

  Here are 5 good reasons why you should take organic wine more seriously:

1.       Winemakers make the switch because they realize the damage that constant use of pesticides   causes to their domaines. Chemicals rob soil of their natural properties. Today, more and   more vintners are seriously making an effort to protect their domaines and the environment.Organic grape farming requires grapes to be organic which means no chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides but using instead 100% natural products.

2.      Farmers are the first victims of the substance intensive-based agriculture. If it’s that harmful to them, it must also be unhealthy to us. It takes three years for them to convert their soil from traditional grape growing too organic.

3.      The organic wine industry is growing considerably In France.  According to Agence Bio, the French Governmental body for organic affairs, French households bought nearly 800 million euros of organic wines in 2016. 

4.      Wineries that make organic wine have to follow specific guidelines not only in the vineyard but also in the vinification process. To get the certified organic label in France winemakers turn to organizations such as Ecocert which ensures that all European regulations are met.

5.   French households bought nearly 800 million euros of organic wines in 2016. More organic  wine is available these days; it’s easy to opt for healthy organic wine not only in supermarkets but also in restaurants.

One thing is clear, more and more of us are keen on a  healthier lifestyle and thankfully, we are paying more attention to the environment. Don't you think these are  perfect reasons for taking organic wine seriously? Wine drinking should always be a pleasure and if we pay attention to our beautiful planet, even better!!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The First National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting Team Championship in France

Tasting skills of olive oil enthusiasts to be assessed in Provence 

France will be hosting its first ever national olive oil tasting competition September 16 in Lançon-de-Provence, an exciting event for olive oil producers, growers, and olive oil enthusiasts. The country might not be known as a big olive oil producing country, but France’s exceptional terroir produces sublime extra virgin olive oil and what better way to encourage excellence in extra virgin olive oil?

The main organizing committee for the competition Savantes, The Association FrancaiseInterprofessionnelle de L’ olive (AFIDOL) and Cécile Le Galliard creator of  Jus d’Olive are understandably thrilled to be a part of this exceptional competition where the main focus will be on the olive oil tasters and not  on extra virgin olive oil.

Founder and Director of Savantes Simon Field from Australia will be working together with the organizing team to oversee the championship: The Savantes tasting program is recognized worldwide also for its marketing program for extra virgin olive oil.  Also assisting in the competition will be the technical team whose task is to ensure the highest technical standards.

Tasting Teams

The organizers say they hope to ‘create a relaxed atmosphere around olive oil,’ they say they would like the teams to enjoy a pleasant day surrounded by other olive oil enthusiasts.
Cécile Le Galliard, French olive oil expert  says enthusiastically: “We have been planning and working hard to prepare this event since last year. We have 15 teams registered. “
She says that participants do not have to have to be experts on olive oil tasting to take part that they should relax and enjoy the day.

The tests

The first test will test each participant’s knowledge individually.
The second test will be a team effort where each team will be given the same blend of extra virgin olive oil.  Points will be given for correct identification of the given oil.
Test 3, also a team effort involves analyzing 6 six monovarietal numbered samples from 6 producing regions.

The setting up and organizing of this competition at Château Virant in Provence is a tremendous achievement, a superb opportunity for French olive oil enthusiasts to test their knowledge and to discover new extra virgin olive oil. What’s great about this sort of event is that that participants will be discussing that primary method of describing olive oil – the flavor of course.

                                         Olive Oil expert Cécile Le Galliard judging olive oil at a recent competition

Credits: terraolivo Jeruslame 2017