Buying olive oil is such fun – I buy direct from the producer, one who has been making olive oil for years.
I discovered J. when I first started looking at AOC producers of olive oil in my region.
He grows six different types of olives and produces six different types of olive oil. There is no mixing and customers know they are getting pure, totally organic extra virgin olive oil.
Customers can’t be in a hurry when they visit the 17 acre plantation; J. encourages all his customers to taste before they buy.
The ‘tasting parlour’ as I like to call it is warm, inviting and full of bottles of the good stuff; he is proud of the certificates and press releases on the walls.
Thanks to J. I have learnt how to taste olive oil like a pro.
I have learnt how to smell before I taste.
I now know how to hold the container in one hand, cover with the other, swirl, then take a good whiff. Distinguishing the different aromas is still new to me but J. is patient and lets me get on with it.
“Do you remember the first time you came? You were coughing and spitting. Now you know what to look for,” he reminds me.
I have learnt to take a good mouthful of the oil; a little sip is not enough. I close my mouth and breathe through my nose and swallow.
I get the peppery taste at the back of the throat, but this is a positive characteristic of olive oil.
Connoisseurs call this pungency and say it’s an acquired taste.
I finally leave clutching three bottles of liquid gold against my chest. It’s a cold day but I feel warm instantly.
Two of these bottles are for me; one for cooking, the other for making salad dressings.
My good neighbour swears that drinking one table spoon of extra virgin a day helps soothe his rheumatoid arthritis – I will let him have a bottle this Christmas.